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First Aid Kit: Review of the gig at Union Chapel, Islington

A review of the First Aid Kit at Union Chapel on 4th March 2010. With illustrations by Joanna Cheung.

Written by Amelia Gregory

The Tiny by Rosalie Hoskins.
The Tiny by Rosalie Hoskins.

When I slipped the new album Gravity & Grace by The Tiny into my desktop, cialis 40mg visit this site I had no expectations. I’d never heard of this self-released Swedish phenomenon, visit this and I doubt that many of my British readers will have either. But I hope all that is set to change, because their third album is a stunning collection of songs from a couple who wear their hearts in their voices and melodies. When I heard that Leo and Ellekari would be playing in London I made it my business to get along and have a short chat with them.

Leo and Ellekari met in 2002, fell in love, moved into a house together and six months later started a band. It doesn’t get more idyllic than this surely? Well yes it does, despite setbacks and the temporary dissolution of the band a few years ago (it was relationship/band make or break time) the pair recently got married, reformed the band with renewed vigour, and are expecting their first child this summer. Why takes things by halves eh?

Both of them come from long musical backgrounds. Leo went to the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen for a year before realising that he wasn’t quite cut out to play in a symphony orchestra and transferring to the Academy of Music in Gothenburg, where he could “make up my own education.” He may wield his cello with all the finesse of a classically trained musician but he insists that “it’s all bluffing really.” Ellekari (which is a Sammi name) learnt all sorts of brass instruments when she was younger and did stints as a jazz singer during her teens in her father’s big band before moving on to a series of punk and ska outfits. They both play bits of glockenspiel, synth, organ and piano as well. Between them they’ve worked extensively with some of the best contemporary Scandinavian musicians, including The Concretes, Peter Bjorn & John, Jenny Wilson, and Ane Brun. In the UK they’ve toured with the likes of Camera Obscura and Ed Harcourt.

The Tiny at the Union Chapel
The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

I wanted to know what inspired their name and Ellekari tells me that she wanted it to sound the opposite of all those bands that say “we’re the greatest, the best… and it might fool people into thinking we’re pop.” Their first album, Close Enough “which doesn’t refer to our relationship but rather the fact that it took only two days to record” was released in 2004, followed by Starring Someone Like You in 2006 – both far sparser and less lush that their latest offering, all pared down cello and bare vocals. I don’t think anyone could mistake them for a pop band, although the jazz influence is clear. Leo confirms that this stripped down aesthetic affected their choice of name. “When we first started our music was very deconstructed and there was a lot of silence.” Ellekari has a distinctive quavering voice which at times sounds a bit like that other great warbling songstress, Joanna Newsom – whose vocals I happen to find highly grating. Not so with Ellekari’s offering, who has a far wider range and is capable of much stronger emotion and reach.

Much mileage is made out of The Tiny‘s relationship in their songwriting and in latest single Last Weekend Ellekari clambers on top of a grand piano in a forest to bemoan the lack of commitment in their life. She wears an over the top wedding dress with huge feathered eyelashes whilst Leo saws at his cello in a tail coat and white boxer shorts, eyes blackened. “I could not stand to looooooose you” she opines. Soon they are both hacking the wedding banquet and piano to pieces and one can only imagine the conversations that happened behind the scenes before, during and after this song was made. For this couple at least it seems as though working out their relationship dilemmas through music has resulted in a happy ending, for they got married just as this video was released.

Since the beginning The Tiny have released all their own records with very little money behind them. “it’s always been very hard and lots of work, but no one else wants to do it!” says Leo, “but it has given us the freedom to do whatever we want to do whenever we like.” Most of their friends on major labels complain just as much “so I suppose there are always problems whichever side you are on,” says Ellekari. “It’s a nice way of life but of course we can’t do everything on our own, for instance we have no idea where to start in England!” They didn’t really have a plan to release Gravity & Grace in the UK but when they started to get booking agency requests they decided to go with the “tailwind”. They’re already popular in France so decided to release the album in conjunction with their French collaborator Almost Musique and UK mega distributor Cargo.

Do they think that the sudden rise in their popularity can be ascribed to the reach of the internet? “Definitely!” says Leo, who thinks that sites like Spotify and Myspace have been integral in spreading music, although he doesn’t really see the point of twitter. “We don’t twitter about what we eat. I don’t really know how to use it, I’m too old.” Rubbish! You can follow and encourage them here. I should have told him that the main demographic on twitter is 30-50 year olds. Because their other albums have gradually trickled out over the years their online presence has grown organically. “It feels as if we have grown into a new position with this album – and it definitely feels easier this time around.”

The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.
The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

I wonder if having a baby has slightly thrown their plans to promote the new record (this is the first time their UK PR has heard the news). “Not really because we never plan too far ahead anyway. Music is spreading in a different way and in different time stretches,” says Ellekari. “We don’t feel we have to follow a set plan because we want to make music for the rest of our lives.” She does joke that her mum is already booked in to look after the baby, though it might be a push to make any of the festivals this year. “We have no idea how it will work,” concedes Leo.

At the Union Chapel in Islington on March 4th 2010 they play with fellow Swedes First Aid Kit for the first time, although they sang together collaboratively with Anne Ternheim on Summer Rain last year and have nothing but the highest praise for these talented sisters many years younger than themselves. Is the Stockholm scene comforting or claustrophobic? “Well, most Swedes tour a lot outside Sweden because there is such a limited audience there.” They enjoy touring in France because it’s pleasurable to play in nice venues where people are really into their music. What about the food I say, always thinking of my stomach. “Yes, good food helps!”

With that we finish on the very important subject of what Ellekari will be wearing for the concert tonight. She’ll be leaving her fabulous zebra print t-shirt in the dressing room and instead donning a long glittery vintage dress from the 70s that she found in Hungary for “next to nothing.” There must be something in the air, for both First Aid Kit girls are wearing vintage maxi dresses too.

The Tiny Gravity & Grace
The Tiny: Gravity & Grace.

It is with sadness that I will now admit that I missed The Tiny’s Union Chapel concert, but I did make it back in time to see headliners First Aid Kit, which you can also read about here. I really do hope that The Tiny decide the UK is as much fun to tour as France, even with a small baby in tow.
The Tiny by Rosalie Hoskins.
The Tiny by Rosalie Hoskins.

When I slipped the new album Gravity & Grace by The Tiny into my desktop, medications I had no expectations. I’d never heard of this self-released Swedish phenomenon, clinic and I doubt that many of my British readers will have either. But I hope all that is set to change, ailment because their third album is a stunning collection of songs from a couple who wear their hearts in their voices and melodies. When I heard that Leo and Ellekari would be playing in London I made it my business to get along and have a short chat with them.

Leo and Ellekari met in 2002, fell in love, moved into a house together and six months later started a band. It doesn’t get more idyllic than this surely? Well yes it does, despite setbacks and the temporary dissolution of the band a few years ago (it was relationship/band make or break time) the pair recently got married, reformed the band with renewed vigour, and are expecting their first child this summer. Why takes things by halves eh?

Both of them come from long musical backgrounds. Leo went to the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen for a year before realising that he wasn’t quite cut out to play in a symphony orchestra and transferring to the Academy of Music in Gothenburg, where he could “make up my own education.” He may wield his cello with all the finesse of a classically trained musician but he insists that “it’s all bluffing really.” Ellekari (which is a Sammi name) learnt all sorts of brass instruments when she was younger and did stints as a jazz singer during her teens in her father’s big band before moving on to a series of punk and ska outfits. They both play bits of glockenspiel, synth, organ and piano as well. Between them they’ve worked extensively with some of the best contemporary Scandinavian musicians, including The Concretes, Peter Bjorn & John, Jenny Wilson, and Ane Brun. In the UK they’ve toured with the likes of Camera Obscura and Ed Harcourt.

The Tiny at the Union Chapel
The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

I wanted to know what inspired their name and Ellekari tells me that she wanted it to sound the opposite of all those bands that say “we’re the greatest, the best… and it might fool people into thinking we’re pop.” Their first album, Close Enough “which doesn’t refer to our relationship but rather the fact that it took only two days to record” was released in 2004, followed by Starring Someone Like You in 2006 – both far sparser and less lush that their latest offering, all pared down cello and bare vocals. I don’t think anyone could mistake them for a pop band, although the jazz influence is clear. Leo confirms that this stripped down aesthetic affected their choice of name. “When we first started our music was very deconstructed and there was a lot of silence.” Ellekari has a distinctive quavering voice which at times sounds a bit like that other great warbling songstress, Joanna Newsom – whose vocals I happen to find highly grating. Not so with Ellekari’s offering, who has a far wider range and is capable of much stronger emotion and reach.

Much mileage is made out of The Tiny‘s relationship in their songwriting and in latest single Last Weekend Ellekari clambers on top of a grand piano in a forest to bemoan the lack of commitment in their life. She wears an over the top wedding dress with huge feathered eyelashes whilst Leo saws at his cello in a tail coat and white boxer shorts, eyes blackened. “I could not stand to looooooose you” she opines. Soon they are both hacking the wedding banquet and piano to pieces and one can only imagine the conversations that happened behind the scenes before, during and after this song was made. For this couple at least it seems as though working out their relationship dilemmas through music has resulted in a happy ending, for they got married just as this video was released.

Since the beginning The Tiny have released all their own records with very little money behind them. “it’s always been very hard and lots of work, but no one else wants to do it!” says Leo, “but it has given us the freedom to do whatever we want to do whenever we like.” Most of their friends on major labels complain just as much “so I suppose there are always problems whichever side you are on,” says Ellekari. “It’s a nice way of life but of course we can’t do everything on our own, for instance we have no idea where to start in England!” They didn’t really have a plan to release Gravity & Grace in the UK but when they started to get booking agency requests they decided to go with the “tailwind”. They’re already popular in France so decided to release the album in conjunction with their French collaborator Almost Musique and UK mega distributor Cargo.

Do they think that the sudden rise in their popularity can be ascribed to the reach of the internet? “Definitely!” says Leo, who thinks that sites like Spotify and Myspace have been integral in spreading music, although he doesn’t really see the point of twitter. “We don’t twitter about what we eat. I don’t really know how to use it, I’m too old.” Rubbish! You can follow and encourage them here. I should have told him that the main demographic on twitter is 30-50 year olds. Because their other albums have gradually trickled out over the years their online presence has grown organically. “It feels as if we have grown into a new position with this album – and it definitely feels easier this time around.”

The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.
The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

I wonder if having a baby has slightly thrown their plans to promote the new record (this is the first time their UK PR has heard the news). “Not really because we never plan too far ahead anyway. Music is spreading in a different way and in different time stretches,” says Ellekari. “We don’t feel we have to follow a set plan because we want to make music for the rest of our lives.” She does joke that her mum is already booked in to look after the baby, though it might be a push to make any of the festivals this year. “We have no idea how it will work,” concedes Leo.

At the Union Chapel in Islington on March 4th 2010 they play with fellow Swedes First Aid Kit for the first time, although they sang together collaboratively with Anne Ternheim on Summer Rain last year and have nothing but the highest praise for these talented sisters many years younger than themselves. Is the Stockholm scene comforting or claustrophobic? “Well, most Swedes tour a lot outside Sweden because there is such a limited audience there.” They enjoy touring in France because it’s pleasurable to play in nice venues where people are really into their music. What about the food I say, always thinking of my stomach. “Yes, good food helps!”

With that we finish on the very important subject of what Ellekari will be wearing for the concert tonight. She’ll be leaving her fabulous zebra print t-shirt in the dressing room and instead donning a long glittery vintage dress from the 70s that she found in Hungary for “next to nothing.” There must be something in the air, for both First Aid Kit girls are wearing vintage maxi dresses too.

The Tiny Gravity & Grace
The Tiny: Gravity & Grace.

It is with sadness that I will now admit that I missed The Tiny’s Union Chapel concert, but I did make it back in time to see headliners First Aid Kit, which you can also read about here. I really do hope that The Tiny decide the UK is as much fun to tour as France, even with a small baby in tow.
The Tiny by Rosalie Hoskins.
The Tiny by Rosalie Hoskins.

When I slipped the new album Gravity & Grace by The Tiny into my desktop, viagra I had no expectations. I’d never heard of this self-released Swedish phenomenon, remedy and I doubt that many of my British readers will have either. But I hope all that is set to change, page because their third album is a stunning collection of songs from a couple who wear their hearts in their voices and melodies. When I heard that Leo and Ellekari would be playing in London I made it my business to get along and have a short chat with them.

Leo and Ellekari met in 2002, fell in love, moved into a house together and six months later started a band. It doesn’t get more idyllic than this surely? Well yes it does, despite setbacks and the temporary dissolution of the band a few years ago (it was relationship/band make or break time) the pair recently got married, reformed the band with renewed vigour, and are expecting their first child this summer. Why takes things by halves eh?

Both of them come from long musical backgrounds. Leo went to the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen for a year before realising that he wasn’t quite cut out to play in a symphony orchestra and transferring to the Academy of Music in Gothenburg, where he could “make up my own education.” He may wield his cello with all the finesse of a classically trained musician but he insists that “it’s all bluffing really.” Ellekari (which is a Sammi name) learnt all sorts of brass instruments when she was younger and did stints as a jazz singer during her teens in her father’s big band before moving on to a series of punk and ska outfits. They both play bits of glockenspiel, synth, organ and piano as well. Between them they’ve worked extensively with some of the best contemporary Scandinavian musicians, including The Concretes, Peter Bjorn & John, Jenny Wilson, and Ane Brun. In the UK they’ve toured with the likes of Camera Obscura and Ed Harcourt.

The Tiny at the Union Chapel
The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

I wanted to know what inspired their name and Ellekari tells me that she wanted it to sound the opposite of all those bands that say “we’re the greatest, the best… and it might fool people into thinking we’re pop.” Their first album, Close Enough “which doesn’t refer to our relationship but rather the fact that it took only two days to record” was released in 2004, followed by Starring Someone Like You in 2006 – both far sparser and less lush that their latest offering, all pared down cello and bare vocals. I don’t think anyone could mistake them for a pop band, although the jazz influence is clear. Leo confirms that this stripped down aesthetic affected their choice of name. “When we first started our music was very deconstructed and there was a lot of silence.” Ellekari has a distinctive quavering voice which at times sounds a bit like that other great warbling songstress, Joanna Newsom – whose vocals I happen to find highly grating. Not so with Ellekari’s offering, who has a far wider range and is capable of much stronger emotion and reach.

Much mileage is made out of The Tiny‘s relationship in their songwriting and in latest single Last Weekend Ellekari clambers on top of a grand piano in a forest to bemoan the lack of commitment in their life. She wears an over the top wedding dress with huge feathered eyelashes whilst Leo saws at his cello in a tail coat and white boxer shorts, eyes blackened. “I could not stand to looooooose you” she opines. Soon they are both hacking the wedding banquet and piano to pieces and one can only imagine the conversations that happened behind the scenes before, during and after this song was made. For this couple at least it seems as though working out their relationship dilemmas through music has resulted in a happy ending, for they got married just as this video was released.

Since the beginning The Tiny have released all their own records with very little money behind them. “it’s always been very hard and lots of work, but no one else wants to do it!” says Leo, “but it has given us the freedom to do whatever we want to do whenever we like.” Most of their friends on major labels complain just as much “so I suppose there are always problems whichever side you are on,” says Ellekari. “It’s a nice way of life but of course we can’t do everything on our own, for instance we have no idea where to start in England!” They didn’t really have a plan to release Gravity & Grace in the UK but when they started to get booking agency requests they decided to go with the “tailwind”. They’re already popular in France so decided to release the album in conjunction with their French collaborator Almost Musique and UK mega distributor Cargo.

Do they think that the sudden rise in their popularity can be ascribed to the reach of the internet? “Definitely!” says Leo, who thinks that sites like Spotify and Myspace have been integral in spreading music, although he doesn’t really see the point of twitter. “We don’t twitter about what we eat. I don’t really know how to use it, I’m too old.” Rubbish! You can follow and encourage them here. I should have told him that the main demographic on twitter is 30-50 year olds. Because their other albums have gradually trickled out over the years their online presence has grown organically. “It feels as if we have grown into a new position with this album – and it definitely feels easier this time around.”

The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.
The Tiny at the Union Chapel. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

I wonder if having a baby has slightly thrown their plans to promote the new record (this is the first time their UK PR has heard the news). “Not really because we never plan too far ahead anyway. Music is spreading in a different way and in different time stretches,” says Ellekari. “We don’t feel we have to follow a set plan because we want to make music for the rest of our lives.” She does joke that her mum is already booked in to look after the baby, though it might be a push to make any of the festivals this year. “We have no idea how it will work,” concedes Leo.

At the Union Chapel in Islington on March 4th 2010 they play with fellow Swedes First Aid Kit for the first time, although they sang together collaboratively with Anne Ternheim on Summer Rain last year and have nothing but the highest praise for these talented sisters many years younger than themselves. Is the Stockholm scene comforting or claustrophobic? “Well, most Swedes tour a lot outside Sweden because there is such a limited audience there.” They enjoy touring in France because it’s pleasurable to play in nice venues where people are really into their music. What about the food I say, always thinking of my stomach. “Yes, good food helps!”

With that we finish on the very important subject of what Ellekari will be wearing for the concert tonight. She’ll be leaving her fabulous zebra print t-shirt in the dressing room and instead donning a long glittery vintage dress from the 70s that she found in Hungary for “next to nothing.” There must be something in the air, for both First Aid Kit girls are wearing vintage maxi dresses too.

The Tiny Gravity & Grace
The Tiny: Gravity & Grace.

It is with sadness that I will now admit that I missed The Tiny’s Union Chapel concert, but I did make it back in time to see headliners First Aid Kit, which you can also read about here. I really do hope that The Tiny decide the UK is as much fun to tour as France, even with a small baby in tow.
First Aid Kit by Joanna Cheung.
First Aid Kit by Joanna Cheung.

When I finish my interview with The Tiny in the dressing room of the Union Chapel I trot over to say hi to the First Aid Kit girls. Johanna (the taller older one) is wearing a splendid vintage dress and we persuade Klara (shorter, cialis 40mg dark hair) to also don the dress she will be wearing for the concert later that night. Lounging against the heavy chapel curtains they are happy to ham it up for my photos like a creepy pair of sisters straight out of The Shining. Last year First Aid Kit played on the Climate Camp stage at Glastonbury for me, visit web but so far this year they have only been confirmed to play at the Green Man Festival. Apparently promotors are being cautious so far in their bookings and the girls seem a little concerned that they won’t be playing elsewhere this summer.

First Aid Kit. Photography by Amelia Gregory.
First Aid Kit. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

When I arrive back at the Union Chapel during the interval later that evening I slip into a prime seat on the rounded balcony overlooking the stage. This enormous hall dwarves the young sisters (Johanna is currently 19, thumb Klara just 16) when they walk out in their fabulous vintage 70s dresses, bright shades of royal blue and orange red under the stage lights. “Wow! Did you guys get the right date? Did you really come to see us?” asks Klara in mock amazement, to which someone in the far reaches of the balcony responds “You’re fab.” A momentary cloud falls over Klara’s young face until someone points out that this does in fact mean that they’re good. Johanna mutters something intended for the sound engineer. “Don’t worry if you can’t understand her, she’s speaking Swedish,” explains Klara, who throughout the evening dominates all between-song banter, as she does the vocals – at one point berating Johanna for remaining silent whilst she tunes her acoustic guitar. It’s easy to forget that English is not their first language, so easily do they inhabit their sophisticated lyrics.

First Aid Kit by Joanna Cheung.
First Aid Kit by Joanna Cheung.

With a cheeky “This song is for those of you who put their hands up when The Tiny asked who here is married!” Klara launches into You’re Not Coming Home Tonight with the mature assuredness that is their hallmark – compounded by the knowledge that they come from a particularly stable family background with doting parents who travel everywhere on tour with them. Throughout the concert I cannot help but notice the gobsmacked expression of the drummer placed in between them. “As you may have noticed there is a man behind us,” points out Klara, “he’s been with us since August.” He looks as if he cannot believe his luck in supporting such outstanding musicians, who at a wild guess may be two decades his junior.

First Aid Kit first came to the attention of the music-loving public with their cover of Fleet Foxes Tiger Mountain Peasant Song, which was uploaded onto youtube and has since become something of a phenomenon with well over a million views (four times that of the original song). Filmed from one camera angle in a forest setting it shows Johanna and Klara harmonising together with only a guitar, beautiful in its simplicity. Klara wonders who in the audience found them this way and at least half raise their hands. They then very nearly raise the imperilled roof of the Union Chapel (which is suffering for its grandiose shell) with an apt rendition of the song.

First Aid Kit. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

At one point Klara tests for an echo in the vast space before she and Johanna step right away from their microphones to do a sublime acoustic rendition of Ghost Town before moving back onto a rollicking number. When Klara asks the audience “Has anything bad happened to you today? Are you sure? What about the people in the balcony? Are you all okay? Can I do anything for you?” this elicits little more than nervous laughter before someone unkindly says “You can keep on singing.” Quick as anything Klara responds “yeah, why not? I wasn’t really doing anything else tonight.” As they return to the stage for their first encore Klara explains. “I only came back for my water bottle… I should be a stand up comedian.” Her asides may fall a little flat but she copes admirably when no one laughs, launching straight into a cover of Gram Parsons Still Feeling Blue, “even though I’m not now. I’m feeling great.” They are as at home playing music that was made well before they were born – “You have to listen to him or I’ll haunt you in your sleep!” – as they are covering current hipsters.

After another standing ovation they return once more to someone yelling “We like you a lot!” whereupon they decide to sing another acoustic version of In the Morning from the floor in front of the stage, managing somehow to create an odd intimacy in such a cavernous venue. Despite their gamine awkwardness nothing can detract from the brilliant intensity of this First Aid Kit concert. Johanna and Klara really don’t need to panic about getting offers from festivals this summer. Glastonbury here they come.

First Aid Kit. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

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2 Responses to “First Aid Kit: Review of the gig at Union Chapel, Islington”

  1. [...] My illustrations were featured for the article about the band First Aid Kit (they’re pretty good too!) To see the article click here. [...]

  2. Ian McCabe says:

    Saw them last night at Manchester, Emotional intimate fantastic GIG, These girls are going places

    Regards Ian

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