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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

These Go to 11: Interviewing Northern Spies

Today we start a new section of the blog, long-time planned, with a series of interviews to musicians, bands, indie label owners and all sort of indie culture promoters (maybe I should say defenders). The questionnaire was intended to be as enjoyable to answer as it was to prepare it. And of course, fun for you to read as well. Ladies & gentlemen, These Go to 11!

Ms. Wiezell, the charming  Swedish
Astrid Wiezell, aka Northern Spies 
Our first interviewed is one of the most amazing music discoveries of 2013. This lovely young Swedish is responsible of one of the best EPs of the year, "My Middle Names", available on the infallible EardrumsPop for free!. A disarming charm permeates her indiepop/singer-songwriter tunes, a natural grace that can't be faked and you'll easily find in her answers to the questionnaire. Perfect choice to start this section!

1. First record that you bought (be honest)
The first album I got was probably "Anthology I" with The Beatles, a two CD compilation with early recordings when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. I pretty much learned English to all the Beatles lyrics and skits on that album, so much goofy stuff. The first single I bought was "Circle of Life" by Elton John, from "The Lion King". I was obsessed with the movie. I was also really into Meat Loaf, haha.

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)
My first concert was the Spice Girls when I was 11 years old. I am still really proud of that! They were my heroes, a fantastic pop culture introduction to feminism as a tween and it was where I started before I found riot grrls in my teens. They were all about sisterhood and having fun with your friends foremost. The last show I saw was Slow Magic last week which was really fun as always, I've seen him play a bunch of times. I am SO excited about my next show: Night Beds, a new-ish country rock band from Nashville. The singer Winston has one of those magical voices.

Astrid turns into a poster PopArt girl!
3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
I don't believe in guilty pleasures at all. So boring and restrictive! You like what you like. I think many would think of it as a guilty pleasure that I love Taylor Swift. I think RED is one of the best albums of the last ten years and that most people will get that with time. Usually anything adored by teenage girls gets mocked and ridiculed. I just think she's a really great songwriter and performer.

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
I don't really collect records in the way some do, but I love buying records since I got a proper stereo and record player. In terms of prettiness, "Vol. 3" by She & Him win by a long mile. Pastel pink vinyl is pretty dreamy.

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
I don't trust anyone who can just throw out an answer to this one with ease. For me it changes every day. One of my favourites is from the song I Remember by Joel Alme, that song just kills me in all its Swenglish sweetness: "Our life is short/No time to waste/I am your friend, don't hesitate/There is not only stars up in the sky"

6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
I've said Jonathan Richman before, but I'd really love to sit down with Joni Mitchell too. I'm just getting into her music now and she is spectacular. As a wordy songwriter myself, I love the way she writes. I'll settle for watching interviews on YouTube though.

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
Oh man, I'm not really that cool with these things, I just love pretty album covers that work well with the music. Some recent favourites: First Aid Kit- "The Lion's Roar", She & Him- "Vol. 3", The Very Most- "Just A Pup", The Smittens- "Believe Me", Tigercats- "Isle of Dogs"... I could go on, which is turning out to be the theme of this interview.

8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both)
Books: "The Best of Everything" by Rona Jaffe is a great little read. Some books stay with you and I think about that one quite often.
Movies: "Frances Ha" moved me so much and is beautifully shot in black and white. Maybe my favourite movie of the year! Otherwise my favourites are "Almost Famous" and "Moonrise Kingdom", I think.

9. Song (of yours) you are most proud of
I just wrote and recorded a song called "E 6th" that I'm loving on. I wrote it for my step sister about our week in New York in September. It made her happy, and made her cry, and so if anyone else likes it that's just a bonus. It's our song.

10. What’s does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
I think there are two branches of it. Indie as independent - music being made outside of the more traditional big label means, less commercial, more DIY ethos. Then there's the indie as genre question which always raises a lot of debate, indie pop, indie rock... people argue over what's what all over the Internet. I guess I identify my music mostly as indie pop as in being part of a community and sound that calls its music that, and as in that I write, play and record everything myself. I feel passionately for the DIY spirit.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
If I can be a dreamer (and I'm totally a dreamer): on stage, singing in some capacity.

Zillion thanks Astrid!

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