Alternative Swedish group based between Barcelona and Malmö – Case Conrad are about to release their new album LEIKKO on Valentine’s Day. This talented bunch of musicians offer a collection of charming rhythms and melodies topped with great vocals. Their truly captivating sound flows with diversity, as one of the band’s vocalists Gustav Haggren explains in our interview, the five-piece are not afraid to experiment and push their sound into a different level. So if you haven’t heard of Case Conrad just yet, read on and find out about the band’s formation, recording journey of their new album, creating the sound and which other Swedish bands and artists are worth checking out.
Eva: Let’s start with a little introduction of the band and your sound for the music fans here in the UK…
Gustav Haggren: vocals and guitar
Per Henrik Adolfsson: vocals, guitar, keys
Robert Johansson: lead guitar, keys
Petter Bengtsson: drums, percussion, back vocals
Vasco Batista: bass, back vocals
Gustav: We are currently a group of four Swedes and one Portuguese living in Barcelona, Spain and Malmö, Sweden. It’s difficult to define who we are and what we are doing because it keeps changing. We formed Case Conrad in 2010 as maybe more a musical project than a band, it was going to be songs about Conrad, The Case of Conrad. We all came from different bands and I suppose CC was a reaction to what we had experienced when playing in bands in a traditional sense. We wanted to do things slightly different so we went on tours without scheduling shows, released our album without reaching out to labels, with the hope that the songs would wander on their own.
And our sound…well our music has been defined as indie, dream pop, surf pop, alternative pop, folk, folk rock. I am sure all and neither fits. It’s pop songs that we try to play as honest as we can: we experiment, push both our own and each others limits, but most important is that we aim to keep the process playful and fun, not matter how dark a song may be.
You’re releasing a new album LEIKKO on Valentine’s Day. Could you take us through its recording process?
Our first album Dew Point was recorded live in two days. Recording LEIKKO was a very long and important process. It took us three years to finish but I wouldn’t say it was a bad experience. It was a creative process and we made sure not to rush things.
Long story semi-short: Me and lead guitar player Robert Johansson went to USA for a three-month tour. In a freezing hostel in Santa Fe we realised we wouldn’t have enough money to fly to Mexico City as we first had planned. We went to Barcelona refusing to return to Sweden in February. In Barcelona we met up with an old friend of mine Per Henrik Adolfsson that I hadn’t seen in years. I asked him: “Whatever happened to your electronic project Leikko?” He replied: “Nothing I suppose. Hey, I like your new band. The Conrad one.” A few pints later, after we had given each other enough praise, we decided we’d make a record together. Soon the project merged into a second Case Conrad album. We bought one microphone and a sound card and went to different flats to try and learn how to record ourselves. Neighbors and cockroaches kept chasing us out so it took some time. We went to Malmö to record drums, horns and strings with John Roger Olsson (who recorded Dew Point), everything else we did in Barcelona. When we were done we sent it all to Christoffer Roth in Stockholm for mixing.
In what ways does this record differ from your previous album Dew Point?
The recording process. We now have two lead singers. The line-up has changed a bit and everybody in the band has been more involved at an earlier stage of production and songwriting. LEIKKO’s got a bigger sound than the stripped, direct and naked sound that Dew Point has, this one’s got wider strokes. Maybe the main difference is that Dew Point was not meant to have a follow-up, but this time we already have our next album ready which we’ll record this summer.
The latest single taken from the album, Copper Thief, is out now. I’ve heard the video for it was shot in Barcelona so what was the filming like?
Suppose I shouldn’t answer that since I was only there for some of it. For both our most recent videos, Lonelylightlylowshine and Copper Thief, we worked with German filmmaker Margarita Leonore. The project was funded by crowdfunders and both videos were shot in Barcelona.
For Copper Thief, Per Henrik had an idea that Margarita helped him carry through. They worked together on it, directing Murray Woodward to walk in slow-motion down the busiest streets or lying in a bathtub in freezing water. He was a real champion.
I had written that song about being lost in cities and how they start looking the same after a while. You start longing for something else, something that suddenly seems impossible, a creek, a field, a place that has a smell and a sound that is not coming from a diesel-chewing engine.
Who writes the songs and where does the inspiration usually come from?
For this record it was me and Per Henrik who wrote the core of the songs, as in the first basic melodies and lyrics. But a part of the inspiration is knowing that I am writing that first idea for this specific group of people, it’s an ongoing dialogue and the song doesn’t really start breathing until we have all approached it in our own way. The dialogue goes on also after the recording, a good song should always be given a chance to transcend and transform – like a language or a personality.
Inspiration is everywhere, I couldn’t really say, besides I am sure all of us in the group find it in different places. To me, songs are stories as stories are songs. The question what it means to have been given a life.
Regarding live shows, what’s your favourite gig you’ve played so far?
We’ve had so many great ones. Beautiful people. It would be a crime to choose only one.
What’s the music scene in Sweden like at the moment? Any artist/band you’d recommend for us to check out?
The scene is currently quite impressive! Here’s a few I’ve been listening to lately: 1900, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Mattias Alkbergs Begravning, Idiot Wind, Skriet, Björn Olsson, Alice Boman.
So after the release of LEIKKO, what else do you have in store for your fans this year?
Germany release tour in February. In April we go to the states for one month, touring with our friends in King of Prussia. In June we record the next album…I think that’s as far as we can plan right now.