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Archive: The Knife

With their new singles Full of Fire and A Tooth for an Eye and the accompanying videos, Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson aka The Knife have already made very clear statements about where they are heading right now: Their approach in their own sounds, lyrics and artwork has become more opently political, more radical, and less easy to consume. With the full stream of the new album “Shaking the Habitual” on the duo’s website it is now finally possible to experience the consequences of their new turn in full force: Many of the songs on the record are longer than 10 minutes, most of the tracks have no clear song structure and are full of unidentifiable sounds and noises, the lyrics are full of open statements against heteronormativity, capitalism and patriachy.
After the interview I did with Olof and Karin for the German Intro magazine a few weeks ago I was really impressed by how hard the duo has questioned not only their whole project, but also the structures under which they’ve been working as artists and musicians in the past. I’ve rarely met artists in the pop industry that have so radically rethought their work and transformed it into something new and more reflected. This English transcript of the interview published below was edited by Sean Dunn, the German article I wrote about the interview and my experiences with the new album can be found on the website of Intro magazine. All pictures were taken by Alexa Vachon.

In the note you submitted to journalists to read before the interview you mention that you started working on the new album by reading together. Tell me a little bit about this, how did you do it?

Olof: I was in Stockholm at the time at the Gender Studies Department and we both decided to study more and read more theory around the issues that we had already been into, like feminist theory and queer theory. We wanted to learn more about colonial history and anti-racist theory. We hadn’t studied so much theory so both of us were into learning more. So we kind of read the books from the field of Gender Studies, both of us, and wrote down many common interests that we wanted to learn more about and gather books on. And started a common ground, a good equal starting point.

Karin: Olof came to Stockholm and I’ve been in Berlin a lot as well in the past years.

Can I ask what you read?

K: First it was the literature list from the Gender Studies Program, like Mohanty’s “Feminism without borders”, also Franz Fanon, Judith Butler, Foucault, Spivak and some of Wendy Brown. Some fiction as well, I’ve been very into Jeanette Winterson… Olof, did I forget anything?

O: Well, there is so much, but I mean we’ve also read a lot of Swedish post-colonial feminists who are really good at summarizing different international thinkers and talk about intersectionality. Are you familiar with this term?

Yes I am…

O: … kind of how to use that. And that’s been really important for us. It has really helped us understand many things, like limits in feminist activism for example.

You’ve involved other artists into your most recent work, both the video and the album. At least four of them queer women – you worked with Shannon Funchess and Emily Roysdon on the song „Stay out here“ and with Marit Östberg and Liz Rosenfeld on the video for „Full of Fire“. Is the Gender Studies background the link to these artist, is this how you approached them and why you chose them?

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+++ RODEO – Way Back Home +++

New single from the upcoming debut album. Video directed by Black Cracker

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From The Knife’s upcoming album “Shaking The Habitual”, which can be pre-ordered now via Rabin Records store. The short film was shot by Berlin and Stockholm based artist and filmmaker Marit Östberg (“Dirty Diaries”),  director of photographer was Berlin based artist and filmmaker Liz Rosenfeld. This is what Östberg writes about the project:

“The film started to grow as an embryo in the song´s lines ‘Who looks after my story’. Who takes care of our stories when the big history, written by straight rich white men, erase the complexity of human´s lives, desires and conditions? The film consists of a network of fates, fears, cravings, longings, losses, and promises. Fates that at first sight seem isolated from each other, but if we pay attention, we can see that everything essentially moves into each other. Our lives are intertwined and our eyes on each other, our sounds and smells, mean something. Our actions create reality, we create each other. We are never faceless, not even in the most grey anonymous streets of the city. We will never stop being responsible, being extensions, of one another. We will never stop longing for each other, and for something else.” (Quote via YouTube).

Berlin based Janine Ronstron aka Planningtorock is the first female artist ever to release a solo LP on DFA records (“W” is out now) and has created quite a hype around herself  with her releases “Doorway” and “The Breaks” recently – especially because of the irritating, transgressive visuals that accompanied them. It’s been a while that a pop artist has played so effectively with gender roles and concepts of identity in such a straight, puristic way I think, this is why I was quite happy when the German music magazine Intro asked me to interview her a couple of weeks ago (The issue with the text was published a couple of days ago). This is the transcript of the conversation, in which Janine talks about her approach to “extent herself” as a (feminist) artist on different levels and gives a little insight on the origins of her new nose drag appearance.

Janine, as part of your artistical work you’ve always been wearing masks and playing with concepts of identity. At the samt time this new “character” you’ve created as part of your new record seems to hide yourself less than before. Like you’re being someone else and yourself at the same time. Was this part of the conecpt.

Kind of. It’s an evolution from the masks and the helmets, because for me they were always like extensions and adding. But I didn’t want to do that this time, I didn’t want to repeat myself. I thought it was interesting to push this side more.

But it’s still some sort of an extension.

Yeah, absolutely. There’s this term in English – “augmented”. It means that you maximize something, add something and by that disturb or disjoint reality, but it’s still reality. This is what I wanted to do. Also, I’m not the kind of person that feels a “the real me” kind of thing, there’s no “real me”, and that’s what it is about.

It’s also very interesting from a gender perspective. I wouldn’t have expected that changing the nose and the brow would make such a difference, would make a person seem so androgynous…

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Pitchfork is currently featuring a recording of The Knife‘s legendary live show “Silent Shout: An Audio Visual Experience”. The concert has been recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2006 and will be only online for one week. Here’s my favourite part of the show, where they are playing an alternative version of “Heartbeats” with a bass line that reminds of the one in the “Twin Peaks” opening theme. You can watch the complete show here. Via YoungCreature.

UPDATE: The show is no longer online.

Olof Dreijer of The Knife, Matthew Sims aka Mt. Sims and Janine Rostron aka Planningtorock have worked together on the soundtrack of “Tomorrow, In A Year”, an opera about Charles Darwin and his evolution theory which was brought on stage by the Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma (I already posted a clip of the piece here). As far as I know the soundtrack is going to be released tomorrow and can be prelistened to on The Knife’s webpage.

You wanted all journalists that are going to interview today to read the transcript of your roundtable conversation about the way this whole project started and on what ideas your soundtrack to Hotel Pro Forma’s Darwin opera is based. But something that still isn’t really clear to me is how you actually interacted with the other ones involved in the project. For example: At what stage was the stage performance when they asked you to make the music?

Olof Dreijer: It started the same for all people involved in the project. In the beginning Hotel Pro Forma gave us a loose framework for the piece. It was a long list of literature and they also told us that the play was supposed to feature three singers, six dancers and that it should focuse on biology and geology. We also did some research by going to museums wit them, we went to the Nature history museum and the geology museum for example.

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+++ “Do Go” is another song that will be on Jonsi‘s first solo album “Go” that’s going to be released on Aprtil 5th. Click here to listen to the song and here for the tour dates his record company has just announced +++

+++ On the website Fairtilizer you can now listen to a roundtable conversation of The Knife, Mt. Sims and Planningtorock. It was recorded to provide fans and journalists with some backround information about “Tomorrow, In A Year”. It’s pretty interesting +++

+++ Musically Two Door Cinema Club may not be the most exciting band of the universe, but I liked the video for their debut single “I Can Talk”. Watch their latest one for “Undercover Martyn” here, it’s also kind of nice +++

+++ The Magnetic Fields not only have a new record out, there’ will also be a documentary about songwriter Stephin Merrit released in the next few weeks. Watch the Trailer for “Strange Powers” on OMG blog +++

+++ The beautiful video below has been recorded for Gil Scott-Heron‘s new single “Me And The Devil”. His album “I’m New Here”, will be released next week. It’s his first new studio album since 1994 +++


+++ Terre Thaemlitz aka DJ Sprinkles has recorded a georgeous ambient mix for Resident Advisor (Thanks, Jan) +++

+++ The Knife have recently been working on a studio version of the Darwin opera they have staged in collaboration with the Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma last year. One of the tracks of this new album (that will be released on the 1st of May) features Planningtorock and Mt.Sims and can now be listend to and downloaded on their website (via GorillavsBear) +++

+++ Ali Love (who’s track “Diminishing Returns” completely made my New Year’s Eve evening) is back with another addictive song called “Love Harder”. Listen to it on his MySpace page or download an extended version of the song on Big Stereo +++

+++ Check out this version of  Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” by Grum – it’s even catchier than the one Hercules And Love Affair have done (Thanks, Gunnar) +++

+++ After Dizzy Rascal’s “Dirty CashRóisín Murphy gives us the next good reason to be happy that the (early) nineties are back. Click here to listen to her new song “Momma’s Place” on Youtube +++

+++ This is another beautiful music video I found on Life Is Not A Rehearsal. Warpaint is a band from L.A. and the video for “Stars” was released in autumn last year: