After topping charts with an earworming smash hit, the question of ‘what is next’? surfaces. And, for duo NEIKED, the answer is a star-studded musical collaboration, naturally. Having birthed the absolute tune that is “Sexual”, the Swedish duo is now looking to catch our ear with a new bop, “I Just Called”. Turning to two of the biggest names in the pop sphere, Anne-Marie and Latto, the group have taken Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and given it a fresh face, culminating in a summer-tinged anthem that pays homage to the diverse range of musical abilities within the collaborative collective and one that is sure to be replaying in your mind all day long.
Speaking on the collaboration, the duo explained, “Anne Marie had a vocal that we heard just a snippet of, sort of a possible flip of a record from Stevie Wonder and we thought it would be a really cool idea to do a full version of that and flip that version, so we started to work around something completely different from what we heard. We felt that we could really do this, and it really works. We started to work on production, and we really wanted a rapper on the record because we felt that we needed another flavour, so that was the process to see who we could get on the record. With Latto, we love her, so we asked if she wanted to be on the record and she really liked it. She started to work on some bars and finally she sent over a version that we really liked and that’s sort of how the second verse came about, that’s how we all started to collaborate. We’re really happy with how it turned out. It couldn’t be better.”
Upon the release of their latest single, the pair took some time to sit down with Wonderland and reflect on the impact of their smash-hit, “Sexual”, how their varying inspirations fuse to form the perfect sound and a career filled with collabs. Head below to enjoy our interview with NEIKED…
Hey NEIKED! How are you? How has this past year been for you?
It has been great. It started off rough because of COVID and everything. We had big plans coming that we had to change. Since the “Better Days” record and what happened with that, everything feels pretty insane.
And with everything that happened during the pandemic, how was your creativity affected?
I mean we were making lots of music. I think creatively we were able to just be in the studio and do our thing there. Basically, just waiting for it to be over and be able to go out and do the other stuff as well. We were lucky before the pandemic because we did a lot of travelling. We worked with a lot of people before it hit, so it gave us an opportunity to just be at home and focus hard on ideas we had. I think we were luckier than many as we didn’t have any life plans at that time so we could do everything in the studio, everything was just really focused. But there were also a lot of uncertainties about what would happen in the future with everyone we were working with.
How did you guys both meet? What sparked the interest?
We started at the same school and we both came from songwriting in different aspects, working behind other artists. We both felt that we wanted to have an outlet where we could actually be super creative ourselves without having a million opinions to take into consideration. Creatively we wanted to just have a free space, so we called it NEIKED. We wanted it to be a platform and just a fun project. We started in 2015 but met in 2011 when we studied together.
And with you both having different creative inspirations how do you go about combining them?
We like indie music and jazz music like Herbie Hancock, I guess like a mix of styles. We both came from the singer-songwriter stuff, the band stuff and electronic music – but more left of centre electronic music. When we started, we started at a music school, a songwriting school, so we both understood how hard it is to write pop records. We’ve got like a mutual respect, knowing writing pop songs is actually really hard, and that’s how all that came about, and I think the other side, that we still like what’s not super down the line commercial. It makes some of the records like “Sexual” sound a bit off as well, but in a good way.
You first started in 2015, since then how would you describe your growth?
You get a bit humbled about the whole industry, being an artist in general. When we started nobody cared, we did stuff that nobody cared about and eventually, you notice everybody cares in a way. Well, not everybody, but a lot of people start caring about what you do and what we’re doing, they expect stuff from you. I think that experience itself is pretty humbling, but it also gives us a perspective that we also want to do things that the people that listen to our music will really like, and it becomes like a bigger community. Doing more interviews and speaking to people about the project is one thing that we feel is a development, we’ve been really quiet! The biggest growth is starting to speak to magazines and going to do some interviews and telling people about the story.
And you’ve seen huge success since then with “Sexual” and “Better Days”, seeing such an amazing response, how does this make you feel?
It makes us feel really good. It felt unreal for “Better Days” to be as big in the US as it was, we are still super small so to see our records just taking off like that in those markets, it’s just unreal.
And now you’re back with Latto and Anne-Marie, how did this collaboration happen?
Anne Marie had a vocal that we heard just a snippet of, sort of a possible flip of a record from Stevie Wonder and we thought it would be a really cool idea to do a full version of that and flip that version, so we started to work around something completely different from what we heard. We felt that we could really do this, and it really works. We started to work on production, and we really wanted a rapper on the record because we felt that we needed another flavour, so that was the process to see who we could get on the record. With Latto, we love her, so we asked if she wanted to be on the record and she really liked it. She started to work on some bars and finally she sent over a version that we really liked and that’s sort of how the second verse came about, that’s how we all started to collaborate. We’re really happy with how it turned out. It couldn’t be better.
You’ve collaborated with so many people over the years, what has been your most stand out moment?
We’ve loved everyone that we’ve collaborated with. Obviously, there are some really big stars and there are some smaller ones as well, but I think the most important thing is the result, the song and who sings it. It’s a hard question. It’s like sometimes you can feel that it’s even more inspiring with ‘oh here’s a super unique identity,’ someone who comes in and delivers something really cool. They don’t even need to be a big artist, its just like, wow that’s something interesting.
What is next for you? What are you most excited for?
It’s finalising the songs that we have, that we’re working on right now. We have a really cool record that we’re working on that we’re stoked about. We’ve got some stuff with other artists as well which are really interesting. That’s what we’re focusing on right now, and sort of looking at touring next year and getting on the road.