PHOTO CREDIT: Julia Stjernlöf
I Am Karate
I have been given the chance to chat…
with the awesome Swedish duo, I Am Karate. Marta and Erika talk about their new single, Expectations, and what its story is; what they hope people get from the song; whether they’ll be more material this year – they tell me how they got together.
I ask them whether there are new artists we need to look out for; what the scene is like in Sweden right now; whether we might see them on tour this year; if they will come to the U.K. – they reach select a song to end the interview with.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Erika: Great! We’ve just been on this songwriting camp arranged by Flow Sessions in this magical outdoor concert venue in Dalhalla, Sweden; pretty close to where we’re originally from. We met a lot of great people there!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Marta: We’re Marta and Erika and we have a band together called I Am Karate. It has been our baby project and love since we started it in 2014. We make Electronic-Pop and have written and produced our own music for a long time but for our latest release, Expectations, we worked with the really talented Norwegian producer called Eirik Røland.
Expectations is out. How did it start life? Is there a tale behind it?
To be honest; Expectations is one of our most personal songs ever. It was both hard and liberating to write and record the song because it means so much to us. There’s a tale behind it that’s a little too private to get into but we think a lot of people can relate to the message of the song. It’s about a relationship that’s falling apart, because of different priorities, but you’re too in love to let go yet.
Did you have a lot of say regarding the lyric video? Whose concept was it?
Erika: The video is actually an I Am Karate Production, so we’ve made it ourselves. It was a bit frustrating directing balloons because they do whatever they want but, in the end, it worked out fine! We’ve had this balloon theme for Expectations because it’s such a great metaphor for the word itself.
The track is a bold and summer-ready song. What do you hope people get from the song?
Marta: We hope we can be a company heading home through the night; a comfort for those who feel what we’ve felt. It’s a true heart-on-your-sleeve song.
Is there more material coming later this year?
Erika: Yes! Next up is a new single later this summer! We’re super-excited!
PHOTO CREDIT: Julia Stjernlöf
How did I Am Karate get together? When did you meet?
We first met in 2012 but we both had other bands back then. In 2014, Marta got a gig at a library in Stockholm that her bandmates couldn’t take and she asked me if I wanted to do something with her instead. It just clicked right away - like musical symbiosis, kind of! We played some covers and things we’d written for our other bands. After that, we knew we had to start a band together!
Sweden is where you are based. Is it a great country to make and record music in? What is the local scene like?
Marta: Yeah. It’s a great country to make and record music in. We have a studio in a studio collective near Slussen, the south part of Stockholm, and we’re really happy to be a part of that. Stockholm is a musically vibrant city to live in and Swedish music export is magnificent. Just to mention some awesome people: Robyn, Tove Lo; Icona Pop, Fever Ray; Tove Styrke, Miriam Bryant; Skott and so on!
PHOTO CREDIT: Ninja Hanna
Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?
We’ll do some promotional concerts here in Sweden this summer but we’re planning to put together a proper tour after the summer.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Erika: We’ve just started collaborating with an organisation called Dala Pop and they’ve been really supportive - and we have some cool stuff planned with them both concerts and releases. We’ve been focusing a lot on writing and producing lately but now we’re hoping to do more concerts abroad and connect with our Karate-Kids outside of Sweden.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Marta: Two years ago, we went to New York and got to play with the one and only Benny Andersson (ABBA) at the Guggenheim Museum. That was mind-blowing.
Erika: Yes. What she said. But, also like the little things…like when our song, Bitter, came to life; it was just so easy like a puzzle that just laid itself. That state of (just) total flow and being in the music.
Marta: Okay; now I wish I said what she said. No offence, Benny (Erika smiles).
PHOTO CREDIT: Sara Björkegren
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
We’d go crazy if we got to support Post Malone. His melodies and flow have been such an inspiration for us. In terms of riders, we’re not that picky. We just want only red M&Ms, thirteen trained white-headed capuchins and ten bottles of your best locally-brewed beer.
Erika: … and a batch of Swedish snuff: Lundgrens Skåne Vit.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Marta: Do you. Always go with your gut. Sounds cliché but, if you’re not 100 % in it, you will not be able to hold on to what’s so great about making music.
Erika: Also; don’t rush it! Be prepared; write A LOT of songs so that you can pick the absolute best ones to release.
IN THIS PHOTO: Claudia Jonas
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Erika: Yes these two crazy-creative sisters who are friends of ours:
IN THIS PHOTO: Julia Jonas
Also, a friend Thea (called Becky and the Birds):
Marta: These three girls write and produce everything themselves which is so just inspiring and awesome!
IN THIS PHOTO: Becky and the Birds
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Erika: I try not to listen to too much music when we’re in a writing phase: I listen to a lot of podcasts and YouTube channels. My favourite one is the H3 podcast with Ethan and Hila. Just love them.
Marta: I have a hard time to chill away from music. But, I need breaks and then I usually read a book or bake to unwind.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Marta: Nights by Frank Ocean
Erika: Stay Off My Mind by Skott
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