When Johanna and Klara Söderberg of the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit began planning their current tour, they told their manager they had to find a way to come back to one of their favorite cities — Austin. In 2008, the two sisters, at 17 and 15, began touring after their covers of country and indie ballads gained popularity on YouTube. The duo came to America in 2010 after the debut of their first album, The Big Black and the Blue. This summer, the band released its third album, Stay Gold. The Daily Texan spoke with First Aid Kit about their work and their upcoming performance Saturday at Fun Fun Fun Fest.
The Daily Texan: Where did the name ‘First Aid Kit’ come from?
Klara Söderberg: The idea behind it is that music really helps you. That’s what music did for us when we were younger and still does. It makes you feel less lonely, and that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to give that gift to people.
DT: What’s it like working with each other?
KS: Horrible. The worst.
Johanna Söderberg: Yeah. We hate each other.
KS: No, no — Johanna and I know each other better than anyone else in the world. It’s a very intimate relationship, and, when we sing, it’s great because we don’t really have to talk to each other. It’s just something that comes so natural to us. It’s just a very, very special thing, and I’m just so lucky to have a sister with such a beautiful voice.
DT: What or who are your music inspirations? Is there anything particular that inspired Stay Gold?
JS: We have so many influences; it’s an endless list. But for Stay Gold, we’re very inspired by the record Our Mother the Mountain by Townes Van Zandt. It’s an old record that has these amazing string arrangements, and we just love how psychedelic and dramatic and beautiful they were — a very ’70s sound. We also listen a lot to Fleetwood Mac. We love Stevie Nicks. There’s this Canadian sister duo, Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Everyone tells us, ‘Your harmonies are really cool, and you’re sisters,’ but it’s hard for us to grasp what that means. But listening to other sibling duos, you can tell there’s something special about it.
DT: What has been your favorite moment in your career so far?
JS: It’s really hard to pick, but I’ll never forget when we performed for Patti Smith. There’s this thing in Sweden called the Polar Prize, and it’s basically the Nobel Prize for music. Smith was awarded the prize, and we got to perform her song ‘Dancing Barefoot’ for her. She cried when we played the song. It was intimidating, but she was so sweet. We got to open for her on her tour later.
DT: How have you and your music changed since your first album?
JS: I think in many ways, we’ve grown more
confident on stage and in our songwriting and singing. Our voices have grown even more attuned to each other, and our harmonies are even tighter. This record is more about us. I think if you feel like you’ve experienced something to write about, then write and dare to be more private in your songs.
DT: What can the audience expect from you guys at Fun Fun Fun Fest?
JS: A lot of harmonizing. A lot of head banging. Gold outfits. Hopefully, they’ll be moved by our songs. Pretty much our only goal in playing is that we give an honest performance and that people feel something when they hear our music.