By Ronnie

From the land that once gave you Abba…it looks like Sweden finally has some SERIOUS rockers on their hands, in the form of the modern psychedelic band, Moonbabies. Sure, Abba wrote some cool, if disposable & harmless pop songs. But, the material of the Moonbabies begs to be taken seriously. Not pretentious like the '70s progressive-rockers, this Swedish duo delivers trully unique, modern psychedelia. Anyone who had heard their demo cassettes, knows that this was a band headed for great things.

I recently talked to Ola Frick, one half of Moonbabies. We chatted about psychedelic music, Napster and Moonbabies undying dedication to studio perfection.

E.C.: First, I'd like to ask about the subtitle for JUNE AND NOVAS, "easy pop beats & electronical underwater moods…" Was this YOUR attempt to classify your music?

Ola: Yeah, sort of. When we recorded the album we already knew that we wanted some potions of pop songs as well as some more experimental, more interesting stuff. We found the phrase a perfect fit for how we sound right now.

E.C.: I describe the Moonbabies as 'modern psychedelic'. You seem to capture what is best about psychedelic music of the past and give it a contemporary sound, without any of the pretentiousness you find in today's new music. What do YOU think is 'psychedelic' about your music?

Ola: I don't really know what makes it psychedelic, but in some ways it is... and I agree about the modern psychedlica. We grew up on Pink Floyd and late Beatles albums, and I guess you'll find similairties in our sound on the June and Novas album, if you listen to "Sgt. Pepper" or "Saucerful of Secrets". The songwriting and composition of the tracks has these dreamy and unlogical hooks, which makes it more interesting. I wish to believe that we are making something fresh and new out of all this, and that the combination of the direct pop songs and the psychedelic stuff makes sense. Soon we have a EP released in US, which is called "We're Layabouts EP", and this CD will show more of our experimental recordings, it's like the missing tracks of June and Novas or something...

E.C.: Who came up with the name 'Moonbabies' and what does it mean?

Ola: I came up with the name, and it's from the lyric of a song I listened to repeatedly way back called "Luna". Afterwards the name has grown into the band perfectly, both musically and personally. We're nightpeople, and make most of our music at night, and like watching the moon outside the window, you know when we play.

E.C.: My first exposure to the Moonbabies was the Best Kept Secret compilation, "Climbing Up These Miles." I was impressed in how you took some of the songs off this fantastic tape and re-recorded them to greater effect on JUNE AND NOVAS. A lot of groups that re-record their older songs fail to recreate the 'magic' of the original take, but you don't seem to have this problem. Is this due to your love of post-production and studio work?

Ola: I think so. It's hard to recreate the atmosphere of the old fuzzy demo recordings, but we really tried hard to make them better and afterwards I'm glad we did. We spent 6 months in the studio to finish the album, and had about 80 songs to choose from. Tracks like "I'm insane but so are you" and "Winter Broken Time" just couldn't be re-recorded to something equaly good. But I we forced ourselves to make THE definate versions of all the others. And in the beginning of the recordings everything sounded like a vast collection of different recordings, but after a lot of cuts and brainstorming, we got together an album which flows the way we dreamed of.

E.C.: In interviews you've spoken of your love of home studio work. Is this the future of rock and roll?

Ola: It may be so, as long as you keep the music interesting. The situation has changed a lot for the home-recorders, right now you can manage to buy high-quality homestudio equipment rather cheap and almost make it sound like a pro studio. 20 years ago you had to put out a fortune to get a good sound. But that I don't mean that sound quality nessesarly mean great quality musically, only helps it to get more accesible...

E.C.: What about Napster and mp3's? If this is the future of music, are the major record labels simply 'dinosaurs' that are soon to be extinct because they can't see the writing on the wall?

Ola: I think Napster is great, and the fact that major labels are freaking out is very interesting. I understand the part about musicians that are afraid that they won't get pay for their music, but as I've heard, people are buying more CD's than ever. And the only one's complaining is the already rich bastards. It's great about mp3's, and i believe that the fans will go out and get the records.

E.C.: Apart from great songs, the forte of the Moonbabies is their production work/arrangments. Is this trully you pallette and canvas? Is there a point of spending too much time in the studio?

Ola: Well, If you have a great idea of a song in your head your goal is to get it on tape, and in my case I won't stop trying until I've feel pleased. Some songs take some hours other takes weeks to get on tape. And I love to be in the studio working, so the time we spend on our recordings are just fun. Bascially not watching as much TV as we otherwise would have done :-

E.C.: Do you have any problems recreating your album in live performances?

Ola: Yes, right now we're going on a tour in the northwestern USA, and it'll only be Carina and me performing. We've made some new arrangements to be able to perform the songs. It'll basically be 3 different sets, electronic and acoustical. Some songs are getting heavier for the live shows, some tracks are softer than on the album, some are almost disco! We've had a great time preparing the concerts and it'll be very interesting to see people's reaction. Next autumn we'll (hopefully) be doing a bigger Tour through USA, and but that time we'll have a full line'up, with a drummer, bass player, guitarist etc. But right now, it'll be only the two of us playing.

E.C.: I know that Ola has the side project of "Blowing Wish". Does Carina have any side projects? You said that the Blowing Wish songbook is mostly taken from Moonbabies leftovers. When will this album be released?

Ola: The Blowing Wish project has been going on for ages now, and I doubt I'll ever want to have it released. It's like this, I have very busy and productive songwriting periods, and if I write and record 20 songs in a week, only some will be end up as moonbabies songs, the ones that are too good to cut out completely will natuarlly be added to my Blowing Wish compilation. Carina doesn't have any side projects right now.

E.C.: Some of your live shows incorporate a psychedelic slide show. Have you thought of a video format for your work? With the imagery and texture of the Moonbabies songs, it seems like a natural progression.

Ola: Yes definitely. A Video for "We're Layabouts" will hopefully be made pretty soon...

E.C.: Your lyrics are great! Do you have trouble expressing your thoughts in English?

Ola: Generally we have no problem expressing ourselves in English. Both Carina and I have written songs since a very early age, and for reason always with English lyrics.

E.C.: The albatross of ABBA comes to mind to many when thinking of Swedish music. Is this prejudice of 'lighweight music from Sweden' hard to overcome?

Ola: No. My opinion is that the success of swedish bands like ABBA only encouraged swedes to try harder to get their music out to the world. Sweden is the 3rd biggest country to export music, and the most successful acts do lightweight pop.

E.C.: Speaking of psychedelic music, your song, "Piano Hammers" really evokes 'water'. Its very similar to what Brian Wilson attempted on the Beach Boys unreleased psychedelic masterpiece, SMiLE. In 'the Elements' suite there is a song, "Love to say Da Da" which evokes water very similar to "Piano Hammers". The SMiLE album was never official released, but bits and pieces have come out over the years. The reason I mention this album is that SMiLE is a very different form of psychedelic music from what comes to mind such as Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane. Some of it seems very similar to the Moonbabies approach. Have you heard any of the SMiLE album?

Ola: No haven't heard it.

E.C.: I read an interview where you said that the Moonbabies don't really fit into the live scene in Sweden (the current scene being alt-country and garage rock). I know you are doing selective shows in the Seattle/Olympia area this spring. Does this mean we will see an U.S. tour of some sorts?

Ola: Yeah, the plan is to make bigger US tour this Autumn, getting a Van and a real live band, and do a lot shows all around USA. Hopefully the timing will be right and that our promotion efforts in Northwestern USA have begun to pay off. Our label Duckweed Records has done a great job so far, and if everything continues in this tempo, i'm sure we'll be able to tour the US...

Click here to visit Duckweed Records web site
Click here to visit the Moonbabies web site