Malmö-based alternative rockers with shoegaze leanings, Spunsugar are on the brink of dropping their new EP, “Things That I Confuse”. The Swedish trio stroked us around 2 years ago with their debut single, ‘I Shouldn’t Care’, a ‘blistering bursts of fuzzy shoegazing guitar noise to beautifully challenge sombre vocal harmonies’ we wrote and they have never stopped since: an acclaimed powerful debut album, ‘Drive-Through Chapel’, and several compelling singles, gradually incorporate synthesizers, electronic and goth post-punk elements, to develop a more refined sound and songwriting quality. The new EP is proof of the natural and compelling growth of Spunsugar, deftly teetering between early energetic abrasive distortions and new lush nostalgic melodicism, without sacrificing a shred of their energy, sensitivity and peculiarity that immediately made them so special.
I had a nice chat with Elin Ramstedt (vocals & guitar), Cordelia Moreau (guitar) & Felix Sjöström (bass).
Thanks so much for the interview. Let’s trace back to the early stages, how did you get into music, where did you meet, what led you to form a band? Which were your early musical influences and inspirations that shaped your sound?
E: My mother and my grandparents played Swedish folk music when I was growing up so I got into music kind of early, always loved singing haha. When I was around 12-13 years old I listened to a lot of metal and pop and when I got a little bit older I started listening to post-punk and shoegaze. Me and Cordelia met in school when we were thirteen and studied German. We had a band when we were 15 with two others but it wasn’t until we were in high school that we started to write music together for real. After that, we didn’t live in the same city for some years so we didn’t have much contact. Around five years ago we started to write music together again and after a while, we decided that we wanted to do something more serious.
C: Then I met the most beautiful boy in the world: Felix!
F: Yeah, I met Cordelia first when we studied at university. I remember we started talking about Jazzmasters and The Jesus and Mary Chain so I guess we kind of bonded over that. That was a very lonely period in my life so I got kind of hooked and wanted to see if we maybe could play music together or something. That is how I got introduced to Elin as well.
What do you most admire and possibly can’t stand about each other?
C: I admire Elin‘s growth as a person and Felix perseverance. Sometimes Elin is too negative and Felix is too positive and I’m left in the middle of this high-school informative cartoon about puberty mood swings. I make myself notice by forgetting how to play our own songs. Sorry for the read…
Over the years I’ve never heard about a real Swedish scene, just plenty of excellent bands more or less linked to each other, what’s your take on the past/present Swedish underground music ‘scene’ in general and in your hometown Malmo in particular?
E: I think that Sweden has had a big scene for indie music, especially in early 2000, with bands like Caesars and Broder Daniel. Nowadays the underground music scene is probably a lot more split up as you say.
F: I can’t really talk about the past because I wasn’t there but the scene here in Malmö now is quite small, every band knows each other in some way, even if it’s just by name. I think it’s pretty easy to reach out to someone for help with something here because of that. Everyone has worked with everyone in a way.
It’s often usual to talk about the distinctive Swedish melodic quality, maybe it’s too easy to trace everything back to Abba, what’s your take on it?
C: I guess when other people were busy fighting in wars we just ate fermented fish and sang beautiful melodies about it. I think we had time and energy to just create a strong musical culture. And yes, the way ABBA structures songs, progressions and melodies are unmatched to this day. They’re, honestly, one of my favorite bands.
F: For us, it always came naturally I think. Maybe it’s in the DNA of Swedish songwriters, honestly hard to tell. Even melodic metal has a big stronghold in Sweden so maybe. But for us, it’s very natural. We’ve always worked in a very ‘songy’ way in that the songs have a very classic structure with like a strong chorus for example. I wouldn’t be surprised if we did a song with a key change or something in the future.
How is your approach to the song composition? How songwriting is divided between you three? How much of your creative process is cerebral and how much is instinctive?
E: Usually me or Cordelia have made a foundation for a song by ourselves, for example, some drums, guitar riffs and a song melody, then we try it out together the three of us. If we feel like the song is a keeper we usually finish the song together, adding the flavours and details.
F: Yeah and the collective way of working is something we’ve talked about doing more of. We’ve never been a band that jam you know. Other than that I think in general we try to not overwork songs. That was something we did a lot in the beginning.
Is the conflict between the dreamy, whimsical sound and the horror fantasy lyrical content intentional?
C: Well yes and no. It happens organically and the contrast isn’t something we sat down and decided upon. And if we’re whimsically that’s definitely not something we intended to be.
F: It’s only rock and it happens naturally.
A constant in your music seems the desire to not repeat itself; in every single release there’s something different and this latest work is no exception. Is it the need to always push your music forward or is there more to it?
E: We have talked about what kind of music that we would like to write after we have released “Things That I Confuse” and I think that we all agreed that we want to do some fast and heavy riff-based music. So I think that we in some way want to go back to the roots, but we don’t want the music to sound exactly the same as the songs that we have already made. I think that every recording symbolises a time frame, what we felt and did during that time, so maybe that’s why the sound differs.
F: What she said! And also you mention desire. I don’t think we had a desire to change anything, it just happens. Often we have a thought about where we wanna take a song but usually, the result differs a lot. I think it’s impossible to decide how a song is gonna turn out you know. But yeah, I think we’re excited to experiment with heavier sounds again.
Your lyrics use inspiration from other art forms, such as literature, comics or movies. What is the significance of
C: I think it’s just the simple fact that especially movies and TV shows boil down feelings into dialogue, imagery and storylines. And you can project things from your life onto things from pop culture and make them metaphors for it.
Let’s talk about your next EP…seems almost exactly split between the synthy pop leanings and the guitar-laden noisy ones, filled with the tastier part right in the middle, like a filled candy, how did the tracks come
E: We wrote the tracks shortly after we had moved into a new rehearsal space. I guess that we felt inspired, a place with windows and stuff! We really have a thing for making fast and noisy music, but for this EP we wanted to try something new. We wanted to peel off some layers, slow down the pace a bit and let the music be more distinct and stripped. In some ways, it is a new direction for us as a band but it still has the elements of bittersweetness and sounding both new and old.
F: Yeah, I remember us talking about how we wanted to EP to almost sound exactly like it did in the rehearsal space. We didn’t wanna overwork it at all, almost the opposite, letting the songs go very early in the songwriting process. I think we were pretty tired of how long it took for a piece of music to go from written to released so this was a symptom of that.
What was the concert and record that had the greatest impact on you and changed your perspective of how you saw rock music and somehow your life?
C: I saw Lady Gaga‘s Art Pop Tour and when six naked men carried Gaga out on a bed where she preceded to have choreographed sex with a woman while singing and dancing, I realized that it is her world and I should be grateful to breathe in it.
F: I saw Entombed play in a small basement in my hometown, the same basement where I had my rehearsal space at the time. This was many many years ago. It was a crazy experience because here they were, the mighty Entombed, and in the crowd were me and maybe 15 other kids just beating the living shit out of each other. I still remember the smell and feel of LG’s hair when he headbanged on stage, sweating everywhere. After the show, the band stayed for autographs and pictures. The whole thing of seeing this for me huge band on such a small stage being so humble was a beautiful thing to see. The whole thing was a crazy experience that I cherish a lot today. Rest in power LG!
What do you enjoy most about performing live? Can you remember your 1st gig as a band and your highlights so far?
E: Our first show was in our rehearsal place with our friends as the audience. It was a great start because they couldn’t say any bad things!!! Our first “real” show was at “Plan B” in Malmö 3 years ago. We were the opening act for the American band Nothing! Our sound has changed a lot since then but it kind of blew our mind that we got to do that since we really love Nothing.
How has the current dystopian state of world affairs affected the band both physically and mentally?
C: It affects us as human beings, but I guess we’re more grateful.
F: It was a bummer not to play any shows, even if we could find a bit of time to rest in that.
What current bands/artists are you excited by and what are your most treasured all-time albums?
E: A current band that I can listen to for hours and hours is Choir Boy. Some of my most treasured all-time albums are ‘Red House Painters I’ – Red House Painters, ‘Future Perfect’ – Autolux, and ‘Treasure’ – Cocteau Twins.
C: I follow everything Nothing does! Also Teenage Wrist and Trixie Mattel. My favorite albums are some Cocteau and Red House as well. Also ‘Live Through This’ – Hole, ‘Forever’ – Broder Daniel and ‘Trio’ by Dolly, Linda and Emmylou.
F: The current bands I really like are The Weeknd, Action Bronson and Electric Youth. I really like Viagra Boys also. Talking bout favourite albums (if you ask me today) would probably be ‘Avalon’ by Roxy Music, ‘Storm Of The Light’s Bane’ by Dissection and probably something by the Ramones or Misfits. A Daniel Romano album should be there too, probably ‘If I’ve Only One Time Askin’’ (even if ‘Come Cry With Me’ probably is my most listened album ever). His way of taking a specific era of country and perfecting it is amazing to me. And the fact that he seems to be the most productive person in showbiz? What a fucking madman.
Many thanks for being our welcome guest, your final words if you still have some?
C: Final words? I guess “I would just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back, like Independence Day, with Jesus”.
F: ‘’When the seagulls follow the trawler it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea’’
Spunsugar‘s new 4-track EP, “Things That I Confuse”, is scheduled to be released on October 1st, via Adrian Recordings.
Featured/cover Image by Maja Strömberg (@majastrmberg)
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