We catch up with Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation ahead of their UK tour.
Swedish indie rockers Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation are simply incredible. Creating beautiful shoegaze songs, they have already released two amazing albums, 2015’s debut album Horse Dance and last year’s Mirage. The band have been hailed for their dream-like sound and ambient vibe, creating music that sounds like it descended directly from the cosmos.
In preparation of their upcoming tour, the band have just released a reworked version of smouldering Mirage track, ‘Sister Green Eyes’. With tribal-like percussion and Josefin’s haunting vocals, the track is elegant, melodic and wildly compelling. We caught up with Josefin to find out more about the track and what 2017 has in store.
How did you all meet?
Fred and I met at an after after hours party in a record store and then we drove around the Mediterranean and slept in an old car for quite a long time, ending up with Argentinian friends in Andalucia. The rest of the band are great people we’ve played with for a good while, and now we’ve brought in two London based musicians, Angela Maki Won-Yin Mak of Parlour and Warm Brains among many other bands.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
My parents listened to Bowie, Neil Young and the Beatles. As a teenager I found Mazzy Star, Catherine Ribeiro, Velvet Underground, Jason Pierce, Popol Vuh, Suicide and Cheval Fou.
Who are your main musical influences?
I would say… same as above really… Mazzy Star, Catherine Ribeiro, Velvet Underground, Jason Pierce, Popol Vuh, Suicide and Cheval Fou…
How would you describe your sound?
Fluid at best, other than that I like those moments when monotony and melody become aligned and the songs float into each other and become something else than I thought they were.
What is your creative process?
It shifts a lot, sometimes it’s really, really fast and sometimes it’s drawn out over what seems like forever. I hesitate to say “dreamlike” but that’s really how it is, at least the impulse and meandering aspect of writing, just playing and playing quite aimlessly, and then later parts of the process are quite rational. “No, that’s way too long, cut that out,” that sort of thing.
“I like those moments when monotony and melody become aligned and the songs float into each other and become something else than I thought they were.”
Can you tell us about ‘Sister Green Eyes’, which is a reworking of a track from your album Mirage?
There was some percussion that didn’t come through on the first mix. When we stripped it down and listened to the separate tracks this other, all percussion driven arrangement appeared and we brought in a Swedish percussionist, Fredrik Gille. This version has more space, really, and less drone, even if there is a sitar like one chord strum all the way through that was done on a benjo. Not a banjo, but a benjo!
What was the inspiration behind the track?
The forest, or the sense of being in the presence of nature spirits. There’s a Japanese expression or word, shinrin-yoku, that seemingly translates as “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest” where you take in the atmosphere so deeply that it’s like a healing bath that induces meditation. Being at least partly Swedish, nature is present in everything to us.
You’ve just released the accompanying video. Can you tell us about your creative vision for this video?
It’s directed by Dom Thomas, from Whyte Horses,. We’ve worked with Dom before both musically and visually, he also did the video for ‘Rushing Through My Mind’ (the first single of Mirage). Both Fred and I play with Whyte Horses every now and then. He is a great friend with a great vision, both musical and visual, if that makes any sense.
You recently won Composer of the Year at Sweden’s Manifest Awards, congratulations! What did that feel like?
Unreal!!! I hadn’t had a single thought of us winning so I was completely stunned and so honoured.
What else have you got lined up for 2017?
There are quite a few festivals coming up this summer, as well as gigs in Germany, Portugal, Spain and hopefully Greece. And we are writing new stuff, hopefully something new emanates and turns out ok.