In 2005 «Lowe» rushed into the playlists of many belarussian music-lovers with their debut electro-pop album «Tenant». The release seemed to be a perfect one, where each song could be a hit. And we were so lucky to get 5 singles, 4 videos and a fantastic show in Minsk in 2007.
And now «Lowe» is backwith a new record «Kino International»! But it seems to me that they have never disappeared from the musical horizon, releasing singles, shooting videos and touring a lot. This swedish pop-noir band enlisted the support of gained fan base, new frineds, old frineds from «Rezonance», Tobias Ersson and Sebastian Aberg, and decided to try the experiment way despite of conservating in sound, found on «Tenant». «Lowe» represented the release full of different music variations, the mix of synth-pop, electro-pop and indie.
A year have passed since our last meeting. And before «Lowe’s» concert in Minsk. I had a chance to talk to Leo and Rickard about «Kino International», their label «Megahype» and the recent tour.
Really nice to see you again, especially in Minsk!
How are you? How is Minsk this time?
Leo: We are good. We’ve been on tour for 3 weeks. You can feel it. But we are all healthy.
Rickard: It feels a bit sad that it’s the last show for this tour.
Let’s talk about your new album «Kino International». The release has come out and you’ve got some results. Are you satisfied with them: the reaction of the public, mass media, the selling rates?
Leo: First, the response has been very very good: both old fans, new fans, magazines, media. I think even better than we hoped. This record is a little different from the first album, and we wanted it to be different. We didn’t think so much but we felt like this. But people seems to take it to their hearts, we gained new fans. I don’t think we lost so many.
Rickard: This tour has been tremendous. Really great. A lot of usual people, not like on the alternative scence, have come to watch our shows. That’s really amazing.
Have these results matched your expectations or even were higher?
Rickard: Yeah, higher
Leo: Higher. This could be considered as a promotion tour, where you shouldn’t expect too much people. But there’ve been a lot of people. The reacrion was really good from smaller clubs to big clubs, it worked in both ways.
Rickard: During this tour we’ve had classic «Lowe» shows. Like one in Tver’or Volgograd. But I think tonight it will be a very special one.
«Kino International» is very diverse electronic and divine album full of guitar sound. What was your conception, the main idea for this release?
Leo: Our main goal was to have more variations, both in tempo and expression. On the half of the album we used Tobias Ersson as a producer just to experiment more. It seems really good. So we are very happy about that.
Rickard: Sebastian also played drums for a few tracks. We talked about that and we wanted this album to be more vary in tempo and expression than «Tenant» which was kind of mid tempo all the way. Now we have faster danceable tracks than some slower ones. The rest just came by itself.
So, «Kino International» was co-produced by Tobias Ersson. Why have you chosen him?
Leo: Do you know about «Rezonance»?
Of course, I know this band.
Leo: They are friends of us and we have seen what they can do. Last time and even this time Mehdi couldn’t come with us. We used Tobias on the previous show here in Minsk. And we thought that he worked really really good. And we felt like he understood our ideas. Sebastian is really tight with him. So it was a perfect set up for us. Both live musicians and session musicians.
Rickard: Tobias is really talented, so is Sebastian. Tobias didn’t know all the live songs, but it didn’t take him more than 5 minutes and then he could play them. And also me and Tobias we’ve known each other since we were 15. We played in like an electronic body music band.
How was this band called, tell me, please? I’ve forgotten. «Enemy...»?
Rickard: «Enemy Alliance»
What was different in the process of making new album in comparison with «Tenant»?
Leo: The difference was that the first album was about what was happening in our lives at that time. The studio set up was a bit different. On the new album we had experienced a lot on the tour across Eastern Europe. Some sad things happening in our life, some good. It’s like a melt pot of feelings that turned into «Kino International» music.
Rickard: For us this is a very emotional album. It’s got big feelings on it.
But it seems to me that «Kino International» is a bit darker and more sad than «Tenant».
Leo: Yeah, it is darker.
Rickard: Most of the songs are, I mean the lyrics actually is more darker, but on the other hand some melodies in songs, danceable traks they are more upbeat. And that in itself feels more happy. I mean songs like «A 1000 Miles» or «Shadows Rising». Those are not really happy ones in the lyrics wise but the melodies, the songs itself, they are very upbeat.
Which step of creating a new record was the most difficult for you: songwriting, sound production, mixing, mastering, the promotion work?
Leo: I think the problem was that we are on label which is good in so many ways. But we are at the same time regularly changing deadlines. Of course we wouldn’t release the album unless we were on 100% happy with it. Sometimes it could be good to have a note just to be ready. But it doesn’t need to be less good just because you focus more on a shorter time. The next album we will focus on a less period of time to make it ready faster.
Rickard: I totally agry. And we work in a slightly different way than other bands. We have our own label and we started it when we did the last «Statemachine» record. And also we are involved in everything, in the making of everything. We work like «Abba» did. So we have our own label but then we license it to different labels, to diffirent territories and to different countries. It’s a lot of work to keep in touch with every company and especially when you are on tour. Maybe we’ll change something to the next album.
Leo: To synchronize releases in diffierent territories.
Rickard: Yeah. Our personal original album, the Megahype edition, came out in June first and then it came out in Poland, then came out in Ukraine, two weeks ago. And then the russian version, which also will be relased here in Belarus, is coming in 3 weeks or something.
Leo: But the difference this time was that first we started in Scandinavia, then we got really good response from Poland. We came on focusing on that playing «Lowe» shows . On this album the touch is coming from everywhere: Germany, Russia, Ukraine. So it’s much bigger apparatus. Which is fun, but at the same time it’s forcing us to focus on efficiency. Not choosing between 50 songs on the next album, but we’ll have to choose between 20 or so.
Rickard, you’ve written lyrics for «Sirens Calling» and the bridge for «A 1000 Miles» and of course lots of your lyrics on your my space blog. What inspired you and may we expect more lyrics of yours in further in Lowe’s music?
Rickard: Yes. Leo writes most of the material, but on the last album me and Mehdi, we contributed more. All that depends on how the song is. If Leo writes an excellent song , then it’s an excellent song and I don’t need to involve myself. I write not poems, but more lyric, lyricism. It’s not really poetry. We call it lyriс in swedish. Like short feelings.
Leo: It doesn’t necessary have a rhyme, it doesn’t necessary have a context.
Let’s continue speaking about lyrics. «Thick As Theives» is one of the potential hits on your new album. Very interesting idiom is used in the lyrics «thick as thieves». Which additional meaning does it have in the song?
Leo: When I wrote it, I think it came from two or three different things. One was my personal life at that time, one was our relationship as a band. You get really tight, it’s like a family. And at the same time first it came align from «The Mission» song. I’m not sure they use «thick as thieves», but it’s in that context. And it’s a description for when two people are as tight as they can be.
Rickard: «Thick as thieves» it’s an english expression. Do you know the expression?
Yes, I know what it means. In russian we say «ne razlej voda», two people are so tight to each other that you even can’t spill water between them.
Rickard: But it was also meant in a bad way. Like thieves, you do something bad together and you’re bound together because you can’t tell anyone else. Only you two know about this.
Leo: And the third thing. You are as a person, you are so tight to your own routine, you are thick as thief with yourself. Sometimes you have to see that. I have to change this, if I can’t I will try this. To step of yourself. There are many meanings.
While touring across Ukraine, you shot a video for «Dice Roller» with an unknown local artist. Why have you chosen Ukraine as a place for shooting a new video and who was that singer?
Rickard: We did it in cooperation with our Ukrainian label «Universal Ukrainian Records». That girl is one of their artist, she used to be a part of a famous band.
Leo: We had this idea of making a duet in different countries. Ukraine was the first. The label manager had a few ideas: «What do you think of this girl, what do you think of that girl?» We chose her. She’s called Eve.
Was she only like an actress in the video?
Rickard: We all were (laughs)
Leo: It was very funny. We went there and we knew that were plans for the video. We were sure that would be some recordings for Eve. We spent some time in the studio, recorded her voice. We made a version, like a sketch version that we would use the other day, the day after for the videoshoot. Then we met and heard for the first time about the guy who would make it. Really energetic emotional guy. We just said: «Ok, we’re all yours». He was really an Ingmar Bergman fan. He was always like [Leo screws his eyes upon and imitates that director] «do like this, do like that». It was fun. We were terrified but at the same time really looking forward.
So this time the director of the video was the other person, not you, Leo.
Rickard: It was the first thing we were not involved in. It was a really hard day. We did the same day the morning show on M1, Ukrainian big TV chanel. Leo even perfomed a short piece of the song. Then we went straight to to the videshoot. And all of this was in the morning, freezing cold, the bridge across Dnepr. We couldn’t have hats or gloves or anything and just stiffed during the whole day. We were recording all day long in different locations, went to the recording studio to shoot on green screen, then to the club to record some other scenes. And then we just rushed to the venue owner. We came in, he gave us just a couple of vodkas, pored three big shots of vodka into Leo, gave us sushi and bags and shiped us directly to the train. And we were off again to the next city.
«Dice Roller» by Universal Poplab is the only cover on «Kino International».
Rickard: I wouldn’t call it a cover. It’s our version of the song.