Gothenburg is internationally renowned for its metal scene and on home turf, in Sweden, it has been an outlet for some of the biggest Swedish indie rock and indie pop acts. In the shadow of these scenes, there’s a vibrant electronic music scene and bands like The Knife and Little Dragon gained fame and glory as household names, making a mark on the international scene in the early 2000s.
Gothenburg is still a major hub for metal music, but there’s a generation of new and exciting electronica acts coming up. Originating from Gothenburg but with half of the duo living in Malmö today, Eavesdrop’s Alexander Thellner and Klara Goliger released their debut album Directions at the end of 2019 and were looking forward to reaping the gig benefits of all the hard work they’d put into making the album, but the pandemic put an end to their gig plans. But they’ve continued releasing new music and earlier this year the singles ”Under the Moon” and ”In the Sea” popped up on Spotify.
We met up with Alex and Klara a few hours ahead of their first gig in a very long time, at Oceanen in Gothenburg, and chat about not taking the band too serious to keep the fun in it, the hard work of doing it DIY and future releases in the works.
Straight from the talent factory
Finally we get to meet an electronica act from Gothenburg again. But we don’t know that much about Eavesdrop, there’s not a lot of information on you. Tell us a bit about the band.
Klara: We studied at the same school, at Hvittfeldtska [renowned for its music education], but at the time we didn’t know each other. But we became friends sometime later and realized that we share the same interest and taste in music, and by coincidence I came across Alex music and liked it really much.
Alex: I did lots of instrumental music at the time but never played it for anyone, it was something I did for myself and it wasn’t intended for anyone else to hear it (laugh).
We have quite a different music background though. Klara comes from what I call folk music, far from electronic music (laugh).
Klara: Let’s just say I’ve tried many different things in music, from jazz to classical music and electronica, and it may look like I can’t decide what I want to do but why limit yourself (laugh).
Alex: I’ve listened to electronic music for quite a while and knew I wanted to do something on my own even before we started Eavesdrop, and when we got together it started on the back of a shared interest to learn how to produce music together.
Quite many bands and artists from Gothenburg started as students at Hvittfeldtska but most ended up in traditional genres like jazz and classical music, not in the electronica scene. Is it you revolting against your music education?
Alex: (laugh) Maybe it is like that. It’s not all good memories from that period in life and maybe it’s our revolt against those things we didn’t like.
Klara: But it’s not about the genre, it’s the opportunities that electronic music offers. I didn’t know anything about production when we started, it’s something I’ve learned as the band started, but as soon as we got things going I got stuck in electronic music because it allows you to have full creative control and not being dependent on other people. You can build landscapes of sounds on your own and you don’t need to have co-musicians. For Eavesdrop that has been crucial because Alex lives in Malmö while I’m here in Gothenburg; we need to work on our own quite much.
Alex: We would never have worked out as an indie rock band because we would have to meet up for rehearsals then and would need a rehearsal space and that’s time and money we don’t have.
Although you live in Malmö today, Alex, the band is rooted in Gothenburg, this is where it all began. But Gothenburg is a metal and indie rock city. Has it been hard to reach out to an audience or find gigs in Gothenburg?
Alex: I actually don’t know, maybe it is? Tonight is just awesome because both we and EIR [the support act] are electronic bands; it’s an electronica night! But when I think about it, it’s not that common. Artists like Sarah Klang and Henning – cowboy rock as I call it – are very popular and that type of music is growing in popularity, they snatch all the gigs (laugh).
Klara: It’s hard to know because of the pandemic, you don’t know how it would have looked like if it would have been a normal live scene. But maybe it’s harder to get shows for electronic bands in Gothenburg.
Alex: If you look at the shows we had to cancel last year none were booked in Gothenburg, just in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Malmö and Helsingborg. Maybe it’s too much metal in Gothenburg.
Klara: It seems to be easier to reach an audience abroad for electronic bands. Just look at Wildhart, an electronic duo from Gothenburg that has played a lot abroad and a band I like really much. No one really knows who they are in Gothenburg but outside Sweden they have a reputation.
I read that you said that you didn’t want to start a band that was too serious. Is it still like that after a debut album and a few EP’s and singles?
Klara: There’s power in not taking it too seriously because it allows us to be playful. That’s what makes this project work out.
Alex: We’re still just two friends who want to produce music together and we’re in control of what level of seriousness we want it to be at. At times it’s more serious but in general it’s about having fun.
Klara: I also have a solo project where I have full creative control, but the downside is that I tend to overanalyze things when I have too much control. Eavesdrop relieves from that, it’s a space where I can say “What you just did sounds awesome, let’s release it” and just be cool with it even though I haven’t produced it (laugh).
The hard labor as a DIY band
Eavesdrop have so far released two singles in 2021 and although most of their releases are “unplanned” they promise that they will release something new before the end of the year.
But they struggle with the never-ending workload of DIY work. On the downside is that even the most laid back and artist-friendly independent label is bound to have a few limitations in mind when it comes to projects they’re willing to work on, and for Eavesdrop it may take the fun off what they do. On the other hand, promoting a record is extremely time-consuming. Arranging press, keeping track of sales, promoting the album, and booking shows are all a full-time job – next to your ordinary full-time job.
Let’s say that there’s an ongoing discussion on how to deal with the problem.
You have released double singles this year, ”Under the Moon” and ”In the Sea”. Is that a sign that there’s an EP or even an album to come later this year?
Alex: Probably not an album, but maybe an EP. We don’t have a strategy when we release singles, it’s just that nothing happened for a while because of covid and we wanted to do something. Since we haven’t been able to play live until today we lost our motivation to write music. If we can’t play live what’s the point in writing anything. Gigs are a reward for all work you’ve put down in writing music.
Klara: We have so much music ready, heaps of songs, but it’s always hard to sort out what to release and not. Will it be an album or just a new single? How do we want it packaged? This whole process takes so much time and in the end we just decided, “Fuck it, let’s release these songs, they’re ready” (laugh).
But if you have quite many songs to release you must be very critical or picky because you haven’t released that much yet.
Alex: Here’s the problem; you can’t just put ten songs on an album and call it an album, they must work out together and have a common theme, just like on our debut album Directions.
Klara: We also play songs live that we haven’t released online or on record; you can’t find them on Spotify. It’s not necessary to have your full discography on Spotify, it’s just great to have some songs that we only play live.
But let’s say that we have some sort of plan to release something before the end of the year, but we don’t know what yet.
You have done it all DIY so far, but is it in the works to try to get your music out on a label just to cut down on the work?
Alex: Yeah, it really takes a lot of time, too much if you ask me, and I’m not convinced we’re doing it right either. We’ve had this kind of discussion a lot, but being on a label also comes with drawbacks.
Klara: It’s hard to know what kind of label that would be good for us. And they’re all quite different. Sometimes you even have to pay for being on a label depending on the deal you have. But to be honest, it would take some workload off our shoulders (laugh).
Alex: I really don’t like these PR mails you have to send out when you have released new music, it takes a lot of time and most of it is a waste of time. If you also consider that we don’t know if we’re doing it right, it may even be more waste of time (laugh).
Klara: Promotion is fun to do when you get positive feedback, but it’s just devastating to get all the “No’s” in your mailbox. Maybe we should start our own label?
Alex: No! Then we have to do it ourselves anyway (laugh). As we said, we’re doing this because it’s fun and want to come out and play live.
Klara: The last year has also been very confusing when we haven’t played live at all, that’s where you usually get feedback on your music. We’ve had to rely on online feedback, like streams or online reviews, and that kind of gets you psyched out.
I got stuck in following how many streams we have, but it doesn’t fucking matter! Sure, it matters in the modern music industry if you’re a bigger band and earns money on it, but many bands get loads of gigs and festivals without being at the top of the streaming sites. But I kind of forget about it and have become blinded by our streams. It’s time to do a reality check soon (laugh).
Alex: If someone approaches us after a show and says “Hey, it was an awesome show” it means something to us. Emotionally, that’s a lot bigger than how many streams we have on Spotify.
To sum up, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2021?
Alex: We would love to do more shows now when the live scene has opened up again, we lost a few because of the pandemic. Our debut album was released at the end of 2019 and we had gigs planned for the spring of 2020 that was canceled, but now we’re ready to catch up again.
It has been boring and painful to not play live for a year, and it’s time to make something out of it instead of going into the studio to record new music.
Klara: But we were lucky enough to have time to do release shows in Malmö and Gothenburg. Now, we need to grab the opportunity. We don’t know if it will close down again.
I’ve also had the idea to do retakes on some older songs, like re-recording them in a different way, maybe as acoustic sessions. That would have been great, and then have a release party.
Alex: Our latest show before tonight was at Plan B in Malmö and maybe we can play there again. The problem is that Malmö’s live scene is tiny and there are lots of bands. But maybe more venues will turn up now when it’s allowed to put up shows again.
Klara: We were kind of surprised to get tonight’s gig and weren’t really prepared. Good Luck Club asked us on Instagram a week ago (laugh). I didn’t know that Sweden had opened up for shows again, that’s why we haven’t tried to book any gigs yet. Now, when we know it’s possible again, we’ll start right away to find gigs in Malmö and Stockholm.