Tonight we have a very interesting discussion with Jan Strandqvist and Frida Madeleine, the Swedish synth pop duo ‘Red Mecca’. Jan ,Frida welcome and thank you for accepting my invitation.
1.Your name brings to my mind the famous lp by Cabaret Voltaire. Tell us about the driving force behind it.
Jan: It’s like a summary of the organic electronica Cabaret Voltaire produced and the album Red Mecca is sort of a landmark there. We´re obviously not trying to sound anything like Cabaret Voltaire in more ways than sharing an atmosphere.
2.Red Mecca is a new group ,have you any musical backround ,any other projects or collaborations from the past? How Jan and Frida met each other?
Jan: Actually, Red Mecca was launched as a solo project in 1997. It was me and guest artists. A couple of singles were released on Warner Music, but it was much more club oriented and in no way similar to Red Mecca 2016. We’re back to the roots now. I’ve been involved in the punk scene in Sundsvall/Swe since 1979. In various bands. But the most important of them was Brända Barn, one of the biggest post punk acts in Sweden around 1982-83.
Frida: Me and Jan met at the local rock club, Pipeline. I was working on my own project, Frida Madeleine at that time. We got talking and decided to do an EP to begin with. After that there was no going back. I guess we were hooked.
3.Is there a story you are trying to tell with your music in your albums?
Jan: Yeah. I have my story and Frida hers. But we really don’t want to point out the direction. We’re influenced by the life surrounding us. And everyone is free to feel it from their own perspective.
Frida: For me, when I write and create music, I like to put the listener in focus. My creations should be able to reflect the person who’s receiving it, and their thoughts and feelings. The storytelling lies in the hands of the listener and that way our work can have endless meanings, which interests me far more than me telling you what it’s about.
4.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music?
Jan: It’s been rather good. We have a fan base worldwide, small but yet a fan base. It´s easy to reach out to people on a global level today, obviously, but it’s hard to catch peoples attention in the roar from everything.
Frida: Yeah the feedback has been great. I’ve noticed since the release of “Electricity” that we’ve reached out more globally as well. People are contacting us from all corners of the world, telling us they appreciate what we do. It’s really heartwarming.
5.There are very interesting bands in Sweden ( Twice A man, Lustans Lakejer comes to my mind…). Can you tell us more bands that we should pay more attention?
Jan: There´s a couple of local bands that comes to mind. Such as The Grand Chapels Quartet, Delorian and Hemgraven. On a national level, there’s way to much really good bands to drop here. But you should check out RA, Kite, Agent Side Grinder, Anna von Hauswolff, Nicole Sabouné. To start with.
Frida: What Jan said. I’d also like to throw White Birches into the mix. Gloomy electronica with a mesmerizing voice on top of it.
6. Are there artists that particularly inspire you? What influenced your music?
Frida: I’ve had quite a few inspirations over the years. I guess they’ve changed as I’ve grown older. It wasn’t until my twenties I found music that I inspired me to create in the way I do today. I’m a big fan of unique voices. James Blake, Sóley, Anohni & Liz Fraser are some examples of that. And then a lot of electronica, Gesaffelstein and Moderat to mention two acts. I saw Moderat in Copenhagen this April, and their live show blew me away. Really amazing.
Jan: Me myself, was a part of the punk movement as said before, so I’ve got my roots with bands like Pistols, Clash, Killjoys, Crass, Satans Rats and so on. Later bands like Joy Division, Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees made an enormous impression. Nowadays, I listen a lot to for ex Sigur Rós and Implodes.
7.Tell us some words about your last album ‘ Electricity’. Is there something different from the previous albums?
Frida: I wouldn’t say it’s different. But it does show off a new layer of what Red mecca is. The music changes as we do, so ‘Electricity’ feels like the natural follower to ‘Covered With Rain’.
Jan: Electricity is a natural progress in our work as a whole and an extension of Covered with Rain in some ways. We think it’s more coherent and distinct. Maybe a little less dark than Covered with Rain, but don´t be fooled. We’re maybe about to enter real darkness with next releases. We´ll see.
8.What do you hope people get from your live shows?
Jan/Frida: We want to give people an experience were our music collaborates in perfect harmony with the visuals we have in our minds, brought to you by projections. We want you to get high on all the feelings we can provide you with in that way. And bleed with your hearts for all the good things in life. And bad.
9.What about Hoppets Här? You presented it as a Red Mecca project. Is it going to take official form? Is it a way to express different musical paths?
Jan: Hoppets Här is more like my personal playground and I’m like weird in that sense that I’m making an awful lot of music. You can´t imagine. On average, I produce like 3-4 songs a week. And not everything is suitable for Red Mecca. We´ll see where it lands. But I’ve got no greater ambition right now than make music for myself and a few others with that project.
10.What do you believe about the Internet and file sharing activity in music? Do you follow different ways to promote your music?
Jan: Inspite of there’s few things which can compete with a vinyl record, internet is of course the best way to reach out to people. With whatever you do. With whatever you might have created. We promote in every way we can. And can afford.
11. Where would you say some of your most significant sources of passion or inspiration are, outside of music? Do you read, paint, learn a language or study something that we might not expect?
Frida: I watch a lot of movies. Perhaps that’s not very unexpected but I do draw a lot of inspiration from it. I love a great movie/series soundtrack. I think languages are interesting and the latest one I’ve been trying to conquer is sign language. It’s been with me ever since I was a little kid, and I think it’s beautiful to be able to express yourself not only using your words but also your body.
Jan: Oh I see A LOT of movies. That’s one of my passions. Some 20 years ago, I planned to train me to direct movies, but instead I spent 4 years studying history of religions at the University of Stockholm. Specialized in Mahayana Buddhism and it’s iconography. Haha. So that became a new passion. To go on excursions with my girlfriend in the surrounding areas with my scooter, is a great passion summertime. To find new, and for us, undiscovered places around the coastal line.
12. In what ways would you develop Red Mecca sound? Do you see the project growing or changing in the next few years?
Jan/Frida: Red Mecca is in no way static. It´s under continual development. Perpetual progress you could say. It’s rather hard to tell what way we might go, but the latest tracks we have made is considerably darker. We’ll just go with the flow. That’s the only way for us to create. A basic plan, yes, but go with the flow.