Thanks so much to Madelaine and Sarah for this interview! Some years ago I wrote a post about Fibi Frap and through many different channels eventually got in touch with them. You can’t imagine how happy I was! I always loved this band, since the first time I heard them, and I’m not exaggerating when I say they were among my favourites of that time period. And then I was even happier when they were up for doing this interview! It’s great to know a bit more about Fibi Frap, to give some context to the music, to the songs, especially after such great answers both Madelaine and Sarah have given me! Anyhow, please enjoy and discover (or rediscover) the fantastic Fibi Frap!
++ Hi there! Thanks so much for being up for the interview! Whereabouts in Sweden are you now? And are you still making music?
Madelaine: I live in Umeå, it’s about half way between Stockholm and Kiruna (650 km home, 650 km to stockholm). I am doing a master in fine art but, yeah I just started a new band before Christmas, we’re called Thir and I hope something can pop up soon, on the net, to be listened to. it’s a rock pop grunge noise thing 🙂
Sarah: I still live in Göteborg, where I have lived for the past 12 years. I am still making music, I’ve recorded a bunch of songs together with various friends ever since Fibi Frap ceased to exist. I’ve gone by a few different names; Iluvsera, Saragasso etc. I still make pop music, but a bit more lo-fi I guess. The latest recordings were inspired by Blade Runner though, one of my all-time favourite movies, so a lot of synthesizers.
++ How did you two meet? Was it immediate friendship? And when did you decide it was time to make music together?
Madelaine: Nah, we met at school, we went i guess for five years just as classmates but then finally we realized we needed each other, we wanted badly to play in a band I guess and we had a common reference: smashing pumpkins. I was really competitive at the time and i did everything i could to collect more EPs and singles and releases from them than Sarah had. I don’t think Sarah really cared. Anyway she tried to introduce me to Neil Young at the time, but I was really in to Swedish indie and didn’t understand this old man cowboy thing. took about ten years i guess, but now i love him more then most music. we tried different constellations with guys, never really worked out so we just decided to do a duo. much better, immediate success 🙂
Sarah: I think we must have been about 10 or something when we met for the first time. We were in the same class at school but never really started hanging out until in the 8th grade or so. And then it wasn’t until we were 15 or 16 that we really became good friends and started making music together. Both of us were into music and wanted to be in a band but couldn’t quite figure out how this was done, so we decided to start a band together. Our first songs were about an old boyfriend of mine that had continued on to wooing a friend, so I wrote songs about what an asshole he was. Great inspiration for punk music.
++ What instruments do each of you play?
Madelaine: synth, guitar, bass, stuff, and now I play the drums.
Sarah: I play guitar, bass, some synthesizer and you know, things I find. I wish I could play the drums but nah, I’m really not good at it.
++ Was Fibi Frap your first music adventure?
Madelaine: Nah, it came out of trying different constellations with guys, always me and Sarah and a guy, usually flirts/boyfriends to play the drums or solo guitar, but they were always so difficult to work with. idiots really, hehe. best band name was ‘Cat Woman Aid’, my boyfriend at the time Ralf Rotmalm always comes up with awesome band names, still.
Sarah: Yeah, we played a lot of music but it wasn’t until we had fired all out male friends from our bands that Fibi Frap was formed. And I think we were tired of being in a band with people who didn’t really care. So we decided that we were going to be the only members.
++ Where does the name of the band come from? Does it come from an encyclopaedia volume as I thought it does?
Madelaine: Yup. My next project was gonna be coco dies, also a band in the same encyclopedia.
Sarah: And I also wrote a song called Coco dies, which didn’t become a Fibi song but it had potential! Maybe we should record it? It’s a good song!
++ You listed a long list of influences in your old mypace: manga, picknix, Boris Vian, Paul Auster, Maurice Blanchot, Magnetic Fields, Will Oldham, Morrissey, Computer Vikings, Oski, Lifli, Brendan Perry, Neil Young and the guys, The Cure, Alma Cogan, Nina Simone and looove. This list makes me happy, I can only say great taste. But can I ask then, what were your favourite mangas?
Madelaine: This list of influences that you refer to, we were probably having some beers and having fun. Don’t remember so much Manga, me an Tobias was at one point looking at Chobits. Otherwhise I mostly liked Anime, but I think I didn’t know about the difference at the time. I like Miyazaki, and some other stuff but I’m not a fanatic.
Sarah: I am not a manga fan, that was never my thing. And so we just wrote down our favourite authors, philosophers, bands, friends etc. I still love Neil Young, Nina Simone, the Cure and Alma Cogan. I grew tired of Paul Auster constantly repeating himself, forgot about Magnetic Fields and Will Oldham. Still like the Brendan Perry album though.
++ You were from the northern part of Sweden, how is it there? But afterwards you were in between Stockholm and Göteborg. Is it much different? And where there any like-minded bands in town that you liked?
Madelaine: Kiruna is far from everything. But it’s weird and beautiful and our home. 20 000 people. When we grew up there was a real dystopian feeling in town. The future didn’t look good at all, it was said the mine was gonna close down in a few years and the military base where a lot of people worked closed down, and there were no jobs. People left their flats, keys on the kitchen table. Houses were being closed down, turned of the heating, left to rot. So the feeling was that of: get the hell outta here as soon as you can. Now, 15 years later, they found more ore, and the area is the strongest growing economical area in Europe kinda Klondike. Gold rush kinda situation. There is nowhere to live, and lot’s of jobs! Now they have to move the whole city because it’s slowly falling down in the mine hole. So it’s the last few years to see our home town as it was…
Sarah: But I still liked growing up in Kiruna because it was such a small town. However, when I was about 15 years old I started growing restless. I wanted to do stuff, see the world and discover new things (and meet new people!). But the atmosphere with the sun shining 24/7 during the summer and the constant darkness during the winter sort of form my music, and I still think that that sadness can be traced back to growing up in Kiruna. There were, however, no like-minded bands in Kiruna. At the beginning we were frowned upon, since there were no girls playing music in a band back then. But we decided to continue on and then we were accepted, I think. But not everyone liked Fibi Frap, some people thought it was just silly music for silly people. Being in a band meant that there was a bass player, a guitar player and a drummer of course. Otherwise it was just weird. And so we were weird. And we didn’t care.
Madelaine: Stockholm and Gothenburg is real towns. Lots of people, and stress, and stuff going on in every corner. We did not hang out with other bands. We didn’t really identify with them and didn’t really listen to that kind of music. I don’t know why we were invited to play all those gigs in those gangs. Maybe it was the synthesiser we used and the fact that we were two cute girls from the north making strange music. We listened more to rock and stuff I think.
Sarah: Yeah, we were always outsiders I think. Everyone was really nice to us and we got to play with a lot of band with great people, but it was never the kind of music we listened to. We grew up listening to Smashing Pumpkins and Neil Young and Van Morrison (I like older men apparently), or rock. It just wasn’t our kind of music, although I can see why other appreciated these bands.
++ And what were the places you loved to hang out in town?
Madelaine: In Kiruna? We sat at the café most of the days after school I think. Safari it’s called. The first café to serve sandwiches, rest of the world style, the founder was from Tunis. I guess we spent a lot of time studying too. I studied science and Sarah studied Humanistic studies.
Sarah: I don’t know if it was the first café to serve sandwiches, but it was a café that was famous for its sandwiches since they were huge. I didn’t study as much as I should have, although I still managed to have good grades. I preferred sitting at the café drinking tea or coffee and smoking way too much. There was always someone there who you knew, otherwise you’d just bring a book.
++ Did you play many gigs? Which would you say were your favourites and why?
Madelaine: A few actually. one of my favourites were at LAVA, in Stockholm, because it was the first time we had a female sound technician, she actually listened to us and did not pat us on our heads, like all guys always did when we were a duo of two really young (cute) girls. and she was impressed on how quick we were at setting up. other gig was at monsters of indie at Debaser, Slussen, in Stockholm. it was just so cool to get to play there. and at the festival Popaganda, in Stockholm too. but actually i have such fucking stage fright, so all gigs were really horrible for me actually. i was always shivering like a leaf and pale as a ghost and Sarah always tried really hard not to look at me at stage because then she became nervous too.
Sarah: We played at Lava twice, the first time was amazing, the second time was not. One of my favourite gigs was the second to last one, at Underjorden, in Göteborg. It was just around the corner from my apartment and a lot of people and a lot of friends showed up, plus we connected with the audience and yeah, I really felt present during that gig. In my mind that was our farewell gig, since the last gig was one of the worst ones we’ve played. It was at Join our Club in Göteborg and we hadn’t seen each other for some time and during the whole show, a drunk girl was standing right by the scene, telling (screaming) the person she was talking to on the phone that she was listening to the worst band ever. I really didn’t want to play and I think Madelaine felt the same way.
++ I want to ask about the Starke Adolf gig. How was that? I have this very idealized view of that club!
Madelaine: We tried to talk about this gig and no one of us remember anything. But we remember a friendly and nice feeling.
Sarah: Yeah, I hardly remember anything. I remember that a lot of friends were there and that it was really fun playing. People really seemed to appreciate us. But apart from that I don’t remember much. It was the only time I went to Starke Adolf.
++ And what about playing a festival such as Popganda?! That must have been quite big?
Madelaine: I was part of the group who arranged the festival and the rest of the group really liked fibi frap and wanted us to play, I have never been so nervous my whole life, I don’t remember anything.
Sarah: I really liked playing at Popaganda. I was so nervous before we entered the stage but after a song or two it felt better and it was really fun. But it was strange as well since we were used to playing on smaller stages.
++ At that time there were many fantastic indiepop bands throughout all Sweden. It was like a explosion of very underground but very creative bands. Did you feel there was some sort of scene, or you always felt like outsiders?
Madelaine: I dunno, Kiruna is so far from everything, and there people either played Metallica – music or in cover bands. oh, but that’s not true. there were many bands experimenting, sometimes towards the verge of performance art, and having fun, but almost always guys. I guess that’s where the outsider feeling came from. Most of them were quite a bit older too, I never dared to talk to them because I thought they were so smart and cool. little did I know. I know some of them now as we have grown up, and they are all rather humble and not too cool for school at all. The rest of the indie or twee scene I was not very familiar too before we came to play in the south of Sweden. And by then we had already our own sound. There was a scene I guess, but in the south everything was so intimidating, everyone had such cool clothes and sun glasses, and i guess i just got really nervous. But we came to know a band called Laakso and or Pello Revolvers and that made it all a bit less scary. They were a bunch of really nice guys. (still no girls though). But then I got to know of bands like first floor power and honey is cool, and finally there were some women to have as role models.
Sarah: Well, I don’t think there were so many bands that were experimental, there was this one band that was some kind of performance thing but it wasn’t that serious. I don’t think I thought anyone was cool in Kiruna. I always thought I was way cooler than anyone (the mind of a teenager), so I didn’t really care for impressing people or found things intimidating (and if I did I would never have admitted it). Laakso and Pello were friends of ours so they weren’t scary at all. Still, there was apparently a twee scene in Sweden where some people thought we belonged (we didn’t, though). In Göteborg I listened to the bands I liked, but it wasn’t pop music. However, they were really creative. So I think we bonded with creative people but not people belong to a certain kind of scene.
++ Were you involved during those years then in anything other than making music? Like, fanzines? radio? gig organizing?
Madelaine: I worked for four years with the popaganda festival, it was cool, got a really nice insight in the music world, and the dirt:
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” (hunter s thompson)
and I also totally lost the wall between me and other artists, the magic was lost in a way, in a good way, and if I see a gig or meet an artist I can talk to that person freely no matter how much I love that persons work.
Sarah: I wasn’t really involved in other things during those years, I was a part of Union, a community where a lot of musicians and other creative people were involved; selling records, setting up a Union festival in Göteborg and so on. But that didn’t last that long, and then I just focused on the music.
++ Your first EP was released in 2002. What do you remember from the recordings session? Where did they happen?
Madelaine: They were really fun. took place at Tobias Asplunds flat, he had recording devices and he was a real friend. I don’t remember much other that it was completely without pressure.
Sarah: The sessions were wonderful. I remember them quite clearly. We recorded the songs at Tobias’s apartment in Kiruna, spending long days and nights at his place writing, playing, laughing…. I really did appreciate those days since it was so much fun and it was just about the three of us hanging out and being creative. And I think that comes through in the EP, you can hear us laughing in the background, cracking up due to our incapability of clapping our hands at the same time. We were both 20 years old, not knowing where our lives would take us and where we would end up. This was in March I think and we knew that after the summer we would leave Kiruna and move to Linköping and Stockholm. So those recordings meant, and means, a lot to me and I still enjoy listening to those songs.
++ After this first EP you appeared at P3Pop radio. How did that happen and how was that experience with Hanna Fahl?
Madelaine: Hanna Fahl was so warm and friendly, such a genuine music lover. It was fun!
Sarah: She was great, she was really enthusiastic and kind. I listened to the recording the other day and apparently the studio technician was the one who decided that “Longing” was going to be called…. “Longing”.
++ You also contributed some songs to the Alltid Hela Tiden label in Sweden, Robots and Electronic Brains in UK, as well as Popgun in the US. Did you contribute to any other compilations?
Madelaine: Oh, I don’t recognize half of those 🙂 I remember ‘My secret garden’ it was a label and Martin released some compilations.
Sarah: Nope, I think that’s it!
++ “How Fast is Your Heart Beating”, your second EP, was released by My Secret Garden Recordings. I interviewed Martin who ran the label not so long ago, and I feel he had a great ethos for running the label. How was your experience with him? And how did you ended up releasing this EP with him?
Madelaine: I don’t remember how we came to work with him. but he was really trust worthy and nice to us. also a real music lover.
Sarah: Well, I guess he contacted us since he wanted to release some of our songs, and we did, and he was a great guy.
++ What about the “Remember Being Born” release? I’ve never seen it. What was included in it?
Sarah: Well, those songs were never released, that’s why you’ve never seen it. We recorded the songs in Göteborg, just the two of us, and just “released” them at myspace. We thought about making an actual record but we never found the time. One of my favourite songs, “White beast”, is one of the “Remember Being Born” songs.
++ Are there any unreleased songs by Fibi Frap still?
Madelaine: I think there might be some, maybe Sarah knows more. there was a song called parking lot, wonder where that went!?
Sarah: Yeah, “Parking lot”! It was Madelaine’s song that we recorded in Stockholm with Johan, I think it was the same session when we recorded “Where’d you learn to kiss that way”. It’s a fun song about an ex-boyfriend of Madelaine’s. We also recorded one of my songs, which didn’t have a name, that was really catchy.
++ And among all of your songs which would you say are your favourite? And why?
Madelaine: Hollywood or Catherine. Sarah was so good at writing and it always get’s boring with your own stuff after a while. we wrote half of the material each.
Sarah: I like “Longing”. A lot. I like the way it was produced, leading up to a crescendo. And “To Make You Happy”, which is an oldie but a favourite. I always liked the way we wrote songs. I would come to Madelaine with a sketch for a song and say that it was missing something. She would come up with this great harmony and it would just be the missing piece I had been searching for. And the other way around. We completed each other’s skills in song writing, and we’d just get each other and know where the other person was going with her song.
++ When and why did you decide to call it a day?
Madelaine: I don’t know, did we really? I guess. I moved to Umeå because of love, it was too far. I am still here but love is no more. I guess I’ll be moving south again in a year or two. Malmö or Stockholm or even Gothenburg. If close to Sarah I’d say we’d probably play together again. I love her and our voices go well together.
Sarah: I’d say it started before Madelaine move to Umeå, I think the distance created problems for us since it was difficult and expensive (we were both students back then) to travel back and forth and it was also difficult to find the time. We would only meet when we were playing somewhere and that just wasn’t fun anymore. I hope Madelaine comes to Göteborg so we can play together again, I really miss that and I miss her.
++ Aside from music, what other hobbies do you enjoy doing?
Madelaine: I don’t have hobbies. I work. I work with Art and Music. I also work at a pub/club called Scharinska here in Umeå, it’s a great place. On my spare time, I travel and watch series and drink beer. I also love to go to my brothers cabin in Abisko, it’s in a national park called Sarek and I just sit there, and look in to the fire or walk in the mountains.
Sarah: I was going to say exactly the same thing: I don’t have hobbies, I work. But that sounds so depressing. I’m a high school teacher, which takes up a lot of my time but it’s also very rewarding. There’s a wrestling club in Göteborg called Gbg Wrestling and so I’ve become a wrestling fan. Other than that: writing music, go to clubs to watch bands play, drink beer and watch TV-series. I bought a nice camera a couple of years ago and really enjoy taking pictures. My father was a photographer and I’d like to think that I’ve inherited that part of him.
++ I’m going to be in three weeks or so in both Göteborg and Stockholm visiting. Can I ask for some tips? Maybe your favourite bars, or restaurants? If there’s any areas or sights that you like too?
Madelaine: I didn’t live in Stockholm for a long time now (8 years), but I go to Magasin 3, and Bonniers Konsthall to look at art or to the moderna museet. and I go to copacobana to have a snack. I want to eat at lao wai at some point because everyone talks about it. there was a great restaurant at the etnografiska museet a couple of years ago, but I don’t know if it is still there. I always went to debaser slussen but I have heard rumors about it moving now to Strand. Strand always have good gigs, saw buil to spill there in the autumn.
Sarah: In Stockholm I would go to Fotografiska (museum of photography) which is great, and maybe eat lunch at the nearby vegetarian restaurant Hermans.I would go to the pub Akkurat to drink beer and maybe even go to Boulebar and play some boule. The nicest area is still Söder, but anywhere near the water is great. And I would go to Grand Hotel to eat expensive but oh so delicious brunch. In Göteborg I would go to Haket Bar, The Rover, Tre små rum to drink beer. Haket is wonderful since the staff is really friendly (and they have the best sushi in town), Tre små rum is small but very cosy, and The Rover is easy going. Though, I suggest that you only go to Tre små rum if you’re really into beer since no Carlsberg is allowed (they actually have a sign that says so) and if you try to order it the bartender will give you the stink eye. I would try to stay near the water; buy some coffee and just look at the ducks and at people. There’s a great coffee bar called Bar Centro behind Nordiska Kompaniet (department store) and a restaurant called Dubbel Dubbel, where you can find great dumplings, that I would recommend. If you’re interested in gigs I would check out Skjul Fyra Sex or Koloni. Although these places could be hard to find and requires a bus ride.
++ One last question, will there be any chance in the future for a reunion gig?
Madelaine: I dunno, I could do it, I don’t now about Sarah.
Sarah: I wouldn’t say no, if we felt like it and felt that our music was still relevant and if we’d have fun playing together, then sure! And, of course, if anyone would be interested to come to that reunion gig (except our mothers and boyfriends).
++ Thanks again! Anything else you’d like to add?
Fibi Frap – Sadeyes