(Above image: Katharina Naess)
Having made their mark on the international charts in 2014 with verified banger ‘Runaway (U & I), Swedish hitmakers Galantis (Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklöw) are heading to London’s Roundhouse tonight to start the UK leg of their tour in support of last year’s second album The Aviary.
Ahead of the gig, we caught up with the dashing duo to talk about the origins of their Seafox mascot, writing music for Kylie and Madonna, and their favourite peanut butters…
You’re over here to start your UK tour, having released The Aviary last year. How would you describe a typical British audience?
Linus: They know their music.
Christian: They’re rowdy and intelligent!
You’ve had some massive hits, what’s the one that gets the best reaction when you play it live? And what’s your favourite to perform?
Christian: I think it’s a split between four — Love On Me, No Money, Runaway (U & I) and Peanut Butter Jelly. We always love performing 'Peanut Butter Jelly'.
(Image: Zoe Rain)
What does The Aviary do differently from your first album?
Christian: We took a deeper dive to do whatever we wanted which, combined with the challenges of writing on tour, turned into a good thing. Because we were writing just on our laptops and our phones, we were not sitting there listening on loud big speakers, so the thing you like needed to be simple and direct, and it needed to work with you sitting and singing it. That aspect coloured the album a lot. Sometimes it’s good to be challenged and cornered.
For two handsome guys you seem to like hiding your identities — why do you prefer staying out of your music videos?
Christian: We’re in the videos sometimes! Watch ‘Pillow Fight’ and ‘True Feeling’ and you’ll get enough of Christian and Linus for a long time…
Linus: A decade.
Christian: Or, a longing for the next one.
Do people ever mistake you for brothers?
Christian: We’re like brothers.
'Peanut Butter Jelly' is the best song we’ve ever heard about a sandwich filling but what are your three top sandwiches?
Christian: There’s only one sandwich and that’s peanut butter jelly.
Linus: In Sweden there’s an ice cream called Sandwich.
Christian: Actually, ice-cream sandwiches are really good.
And do you go for crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
Christian: I like both. Some days I wake up and it’s all about the crunchy peanut butter and sometimes I’m all about the smooth. I can’t figure it out.
Linus: It’s the smooth layer…
Christian: Sometimes I mix it.
Image: Zoe Rain
We love your mascot, Seafox. Is it a cat? Is it an owl? Is it a fox? Tell us more…
Christian: It’s kind of a Frankenstein of a creature. It started as a mix of a fox and a jellyfish and then we just took it from there basically. There has been a lot of mixing of animals to create the next Seafox. She is a very important creature for this band. We were huge fans of Mat Maitland [English surrealist-pop collage artist who designed the Seafox and also worked on campaigns for Michael Jackson, Prince and Kylie Minogue].
When we were exploring what Galantis should sound like, we were also thinking about what the visuals could be and we were playing around with fur and jellyfish, and we met Mat and he totally blew us away. The first idea he came back with was the original Seafox, which is what you see on the back of our jackets and everything.
You’ve both written and produced tracks for some of the biggest gay icons in the world — do you have any fun anecdotes you can share?
Christian: I loved working with Madonna, Kylie and Britney. Madonna is the hardest working artist I’ve ever been in the studio with, I gotta say. Kylie is amazing — her energy is unbelievable, she is the most uplifting person in the studio. I’ve been working with her on and off but sometimes I forget how many songs have actually been released and how many that I’m sitting on. Speakerphone is my favourite, from X. I love it.
(Image: Henrik Korpi)
Christian, you co-wrote 'Toxic' which went on to win an Ivor Novello Award and is basically one of the greatest songs of all time. How do you top a song like that?!
Christian: I don’t measure the songs like that, but I do enjoy my Ivor Novello Award! When you’re in the process of making a song, they all feel and weigh the same, emotionally and in other ways. Of course, some of them will be recognised by way more people, but it doesn’t affect me differently when I listen to them. I care for my babies forever, you know?
Why are Swedes so good at writing huge pop hits anyway? Is there something in the water over there?!
Christian: Yes. It’s in the water.
Linus: Or in the vodka.
Christian: We get that question a lot and it’s very hard to answer. A lot of the people in the music business in Sweden are all based in the same area, because that’s where the studios are. So, we all more or less know each other, including producers, writers and artists outside of dance music, because Sweden is small — 99 per cent of the industry is in Stockholm, and Stockholm is a tiny city. It’s a very cool thing and we’re very proud of our friends who are making amazing music as well.
(Image: Jimmy Fontaine)
Can you predict when a song is going to be a hit with your gay fans? Or do you think your music is more universal?
Christian: No, you can’t predict it but it’s almost like you don’t want to predict it. You just want to make good music and hope that people are feeling the music.
Linus: And you really have to trust your goosebumps and your instincts when you hear it.
Christian: I’m not trying to feed the world ‘hit music’ because I think music is music, and people have different taste in music. Sometimes a shit load of people like the same song and you call it a ‘hit song’ but it doesn’t take anything away from the other songs. You know what I’m saying? Because if 100,000 people liked it, it means a lot to them, and if 100 million liked it, it means as much to them… So you can’t really value one song over another because it means a lot — not only to us, of course, but to other people listening to it as well. That’s why when you go out on tour and you get to play all your songs, I love to see the reaction to a song that’s not a single or one that has had the least streams — they can still have a huge impact on some people.
You work with different vocalists on your songs — do you have a dream collaborator each?
Christian: Unfortunately, a lot of them have passed away recently but there are still amazing new artists coming along all the time. It’s funny seeing the documentaries now when you were already into them as legends, but since they have passed away, they have become bigger. I was watching the George Michael documentary and it blew me away — it was amazing. He was 10 times better than I imagined, there were things shown in the documentary that I didn’t even know about.
Are you doing the festival circuit this summer? And then will you be back in the studio making more music?
Christian: We are playing the festival circuit this summer — a lot of the European festivals, both dance music ones and mixed genre ones. And we are currently in the studio making new music!
Galantis play London’s Roundhouse tonight (14 Feb), Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse (17 Feb), Glasgow’s SSE Hydro (18 Feb) and Dublin’s Olympia Theatre (19 Feb).
Visit wearegalantis.com for tickets