Meet First Aid Kit, Swedish Sibling Sensation

“We’re the only girls in our touring party,” observes Klara Söderberg. “Where are they?”

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Is it any wonder that Johanna and Klara Söderberg of the band First Aid Kit are in high demand? The attractive young sisters from Sweden sport ’70s-inspired wardrobes that would make Stevie Nicks drool and write forlorn folk ballads that recall true, vibrant Americana. I was prepared to interview them at Austin City Limits, but their schedule changed and they had to cancel. As fate would have it, I ran into Johanna at the hotel gym, but then figured she probably didn’t want to be interrogated while running. So I caught up with the pair later, by phone, as were preparing (of course) for their next tour.

First Aid Kit’s itinerary may be chaotic, but the sisters’ music has a timeless quality. You could easily imagine them singing it, in their same long-flowing skirts, around a campfire on the Oregon trail during the 19th century—well, the Swedish equivalent—or strumming guitars inside a big silver bus, living out a real-life Jack Kerouac novel.

In any case, global fame isn’t poisoning the sisters’ music. (There are definitely no Lady Gaga beats to be heard, here.) As the song, “King of the World,” goes: “At 10 in the morning, I was laughing at something, at the airport terminal…Well passing the border from a state to another, filled with people whom I couldn’t help to relate to.”

I spoke with Johanna and Klara about preshow rituals, covering Paul Simon for Paul Simon, and all the dicks on the dance floor.

Mother Jones: Do you see any differences between touring in the US and Europe?

Johanna Söderberg: In the US we like Austin and Ashville, and we love playing in the South—

Klara Söderberg: The weather is so exotic to us! We’re really cold in Sweden. But everywhere we play in the States, we’ve gotten such a good response. When Americans go out to a show, they’re ready to party, even if it’s a weekday. They’re totally into it. The whole point of playing a gig is to have a conversation with the audience and it’s so much easier when they’re responsive.

“We do try to kill each other sometimes, but…we always end up friends again.”

JS: European crowds are more respectful; they’re quiet and reserved and listening in a different way. But I wouldn’t say I prefer one to the other.

MJ: Do you have preshow rituals before hitting the stage?

KS: Before we go on stage, we listen to a lot of female musicians like Emmylou Harris, Jenny Lewis, and Joanna Newsom. They’re all strong women who make incredible music and I like to think about them before I go on stage. I want to channel them, have them inspire my performance.

MJ: What do you think about the gender ratio in Indie rock?

KS: We’re the only girls in our touring party, so I think we’re setting a good example. But it’s so hard to find other female technicians and tour managers. Where are they? We miss other ladies. It’s so typical that women aren’t supposed to do the technical stuff, but I wish that there were more girls out there. It would be good for everyone. There are so many dudes on the dance floor. I mean too many dicks. [That’s a Flight of the Conchords reference.]

MJ: Is it harder or easier working with a family member?

KS: We do try to kill each other sometimes, but we’re very close and we always end up friends again. When we’re working creatively, we can throw out ideas and I don’t have to be scared of what Johanna is going to think because I already know. I usually come up with that first idea, and then I usually get stuck, so I turn Johanna, and she says, “Let’s do this.” And we end up working together.

MJ: Anyone else you’re dying to work with?

JS: It’s hard to say, as Jack [White] and Conor [Oberst] are people we’ve always admired and never, ever thought we’d get to work with, so it’s weird that’s now come true. We got to meet Paul Simon this summer and we performed his song “America” for him, so we’d love to sing with him. We’re just overwhelmed by the talented people we’ve gotten to work with, but we’re not sitting around dreaming about it—it just kind of happens. 

Click here for more music coverage from Mother Jones.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate