The Swedish newcomers prove they aren’t afraid to make things personal in their latest track.
Hot off the heels’ of 2020 folk-pop offering “Walk”, our favourite Swedish newcomers POOLS are back with new single “Looking For Trouble”. Frontman Arvid Hällagård sees the oft-Americana track as a prophetic tale about his daughter, explaining the track is about “how, when she gets older, will go out to some bar and dance her way through the night, looking for trouble, which is actually the love that we all need and crave.”
The two began their journey as POOLS somewhat bittersweet, with their inception marking the end of an era for former electro-pop alias, WYRES. There’s no bad blood of course, and Arvid, ever the creative polymath, has even kept his role within stoner rock group Greenleaf. The pair just felt it was time for a change, to forge forward with some much-needed new beginnings after the rollercoaster ride that was 2020, and a chance to create a different sound entirely.
The result is You & Us, the duo’s forthcoming debut released towards the end April. Compiling a selection of brutal yet poignant tracks themed around love, loss and the disorientation felt particularly by Arvid stemming from a recent divorce, the two take on an array of genres – from folk to gospel – in their experimental quest for musical enlightenment. And they also might tug on a few heartstrings on the way there…
We recently caught up with half of the talented duo, talking all things their upcoming album You & Us, and how COVID has totally rocked their world. Take a look below…
Hi Arvid – how have you been during this uncertain time?
To be completely honest it’s been shit. I went through a very rough divorce in the beginning of the year and then COVID-19 happened. So all of my planned shows were cancelled and so on. I spiralled down into a sort of depression. The solution, however, was to create music with Fredrik. And the result is POOLS. And looking back at this time I can at least be happy about the fact that we have made an album that I am really proud of. And hopefully, we will soon be at some turning point where stuff will be better.
How has it impacted your music and creativity?
Well COVID itself might not have a huge impact on the music, except maybe the fact that we had more time for writing. The isolation may also have had an effect on the lyrics. But mostly I’ve just been really heartbroken and felt the need to get it out somehow.
Why the name POOLS?
We liked the name Pools because it’s like an oasis in the suburbs. A man-made watering hole (haha!). And we felt that that’s how we sound. The folky stuff gets mixed up with the noise from the city. To blend the roots with blinking screens and mad shopping malls.
How did growing up in Sweden influence you sonically? Who were your musical heroes?
For me (and many other swedes) I think pop melodies are a big thing. We want them to be hooky but still sad in some way. I think I’ve been influenced a lot by stuff on the common radio without even recognizing it myself, but also my dad had a really great record collection of soul, blues and folk that I listened to without a stop. I wanted to sing like Joe Cocker and Otis Redding. And as a kid I spent a huge amount of time imitating those types of vocalists.
You guys combine Americana, Folk and even Gospel – how would you describe your genre?
Well I guess it’s a modern pop-folk kind of fusion thing, hard to describe for us. We tried to put the lyrics and vocals in the centre of the song and then just build sonic walls surrounding the whole thing. We talked a lot about how we could make the music cinematic, that you would get a certain emotion while listening.
Congratulations on your new track – “Looking For Trouble” – what was it inspired by?
It’s about those first couple of years in your early 20s when you leave the bar or club before you find somebody, or trouble in this case. That feeling of longing but still being happy with searching for it. I could see my 2-year-old daughter in this scenario when she gets older. A summer breeze in her hair while she’s biking towards some hip place in the summertime. Being happy but still wanting something more.
And it’s taken from your forthcoming debut album You & Us – what ties it all together as a body of work?
The album is very much a result of my divorce. Lyrically that’s mostly what the album is about. Pain management, guilt, anger and sadness. All wrapped up in a cosy folky pop-box.
You tackle love and loss in your songs – how cathartic is the process of you putting together songs?
It helped me a lot. It was a way for me to let the thoughts go and at the same time feel better about myself again.
How much of yourselves and your personal pain do you put into your music?
I put most of it in there and it is very personal. At the same time, I think a lot of people can relate. I’m not the only one that’s been suffering mentally this year and I’m certainly not the last either. Hopefully some sad music will make sad people feel better.
How does it feel releasing new music when most of the world is in lockdown/everything feels so uncertain – what do you hope your music will bring?
Not great, but at the same time, it feels like we couldn’t hold onto it any longer. And if people listen and like it that’s great. If not at least we did something that made us feel better.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Hopefully playing the music live at some point. It’s my only hope. A small bar or an open-air festival, does not matter. Just being able to play again in front of a crowd would be enough.
POOLS’ debut album You & Us is out April 30th 2021 via Something Beautiful.