Sunday, 6 April 2008

Those Dancing Days interview

Backstage in a tiny box room, Sweden’s next big thing, Those Dancing Days, find time for a chat and a perfect introduction to those who’ve so far skirted the buzz. Their music is oozing with gaiety, and it’s not until you meet them that you become fully aware of their age (currently ranging from 17-19) – and they have no qualms about it. They’re definitely recognisable as individuals, and all have varying quirks in their stage presence, their influences and their personalities, and the best way to understand the excitement is to have a little delve into just what it is that makes them what they are, in between a united cacophony of giggles.

Linnea, she of the crazy hair, mostly takes a bit of coaxing to get anything out of. She’s every inch the Casablancas frontwoman on stage - bug-eyed, shuffly and fancy-free. The youngest of the band, she finishes school in a few months and describes the band as her “inspiration for life”. She’s pensive beyond her years. Cissi the power-drummer is helium-pitched ramble personified; bassist Mimmi appears the studious, sensible one. Guitarist Rebecka provides the jokes, the ditz, the eccentricities and synth princess Lisa may justwell be the crazy one. If it was 1996 and this was for ‘Top Of The Pops’ magazine, they might well be described, respectively, as Unfazed, Exultant, Nerd, Madcap and Goofball. Maybe.

“We were so proud when we got a gig in Stockholm, we were like ‘we’re big now!’” Mimmi and the rest of the band continue to be amazed that they’ve made it to London from their small Swedish suburb. She says they formed Those Dancing Days “to make happy pop music”. And they certainly seem very happy with what they’ve achieved so far. Although they never foresaw the band making it across the water, the decision to write in English was conscious. “It’s more international’, offers Lisa, whilst Rebecka says: “in Swedish it gets a little bit silly”. Linnea, in her soft, slightly nasal tones, on this occasion is free-flowing: “There are few bands who sing in Swedish but if you sing in Swedish you are stuck in Sweden and we didn’t know that we would get the chance to [go international] but we had it somewhere in the back of our minds.”

With so many bands being tipped for great things in 2008, Those Dancing Days could understandably feel like they’re lodged under a rock, trying to spread their name, break into the mainstream, and not let their fans down. But the only pressure they feel is to assuage fears that because they’re a girl band, they can only offer style instead of substance. “It’s not a genre” – Lisa’s right, and it is strange that is even gets a mention. Because when would you read a review beginning with “the all-male five piece…”? It’s a very interesting point, but one which Cissi is all too aware of: “it’s bad because that we’re girls it has to be like some sort of competition”. So whilst they do plan their outfits – Mimmi describing a “summer festival kind of sports theme…we were really good looking!” – it means that they can stick their fingers up (chance’d be a fine thing as butter wouldn’t melt…) at anyone who claims that that’s all they’ve got going for them. “The band is democratic”, pronounces Rebecka.

“We want to be the female Rolling Stones!” “If people like us now they’ll like us more in a few years because all the time we get so much better so we’re going to be so good in a few years time.” Lisa and Cissi’s ambitions are part-joke, but who knows what the future holds for Those Dancing Days. With only a demo and an EP out there, it’s phenomenal the attraction that the band’s received – the album’s half recorded and the rest will be done in late February. Linnea: “It’s hard to combine [the band] with education. We are still in school, Mimmi and I, and the rest of them work and it’s hard to get some time when you can just be in the studio, focusing.” Their sound engineer is on production duties, and although the songs to be recorded aren’t quite written yet, there’s no rush on what Rebecka describes as “a good mix, the best parts of each person”.

“We all have our common songs…” Linnea puts forward before Mimmi pipes up – “we’re all music nerds”. Like most, when put on the spot they find it difficult to codify just what their favourite music is. Rebecka suddenly leads an unexpected sing-along of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s finest, and then the girls get all credible. Cissi’s favourite album of all time is ‘Hunky Dory’ by David Bowie, and Mimmi loves The Velvet Underground’s self-titled third album. These two are the group’s musos. Linnea once more remains inward, offering “I don’t know, I’m not that good at listening to music”. It’s pretty strange that her Northern Soul tones may not be derivative at all. “Food and the good looking guys” are what inspires the infectiously chirpy Rebecka, whilst Lisa is into “hip-hop, books and movies”. They all, however, agree on the Spice Girls. Because after all, they were just regular school kids in the 90s. Next comes a best left anonymous admission that, one of the band, as a proper youngster, had a thing for Michael Jackson where she was watching him on-screen in concert and “went to the TV and kissed him because he was so cute” – it’s surely best left nameless, isn’t it Lisa?

And why ‘Those Dancing Days’, pray tell? Well of course it’s not eponymous. It’s after the Led Zeppelin track ‘Dancing Days’. Mimmi clarifies: “I just went through my iTunes list because I like song names and I looked for inspiration and I just found it”. Rebecka goes on: “It was ‘Dancing Days’ in the beginning and then it was going to be ‘The Dancing Days’, and ‘Those’ is more flowing.” It suits them – it’s got the twee that they may not be aware they possess in droves, and the kitsch cuteness they surely must be more conscious of.

Off-track of music, does their relationship ever get a bit intense? Cissi thinks so, but it’s not a problem: “It would be weird if everything always was perfect because that would make you not appreciate when it’s good.” It’s the best attitude to take, surely. “And of course we got up this morning at 4.45… you get tired but it’s nothing serious. We like each other!” Mimmi offers a similar reflection. These two are perhaps the mouthpieces of the band, with Lisa and Rebecka offering sporadic bursts of light and Linnea’s presence and few words providing as much intrigue. “It’s like a marriage”, Rebecka submits. “Or a family”, provides Cissi. They’re having way too much fun for anything else to get in the way. It’s just normal day-to-day friendship for them.

And the interview couldn’t be closed without mention of The Strokes. A chorus of drools is initiated upon mere mention of their forefathers, and whilst there are similarities in that each musician in both bands is not a filler but instead a recognisable individual, Those Dancing Days do not belong to that imitative post-Strokes, pre-schmindie school of thought. Mimmi believes that “they’re iconic but still in the game… they’ve inspired us to make music”, and Lisa realises she’d never thought about that before but admits it to be true. Their gushing on perennial NYC cool sums up everything that they are: they aren’t ashamed to be long-winded on certain things for fear that they’ll be accused of lack of imagination. They’re only too eager to have the chance to tell more about themselves, in fact they jump at it.

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