Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Accidental Success of The Sounds

Sometimes in life things happen by pure accident. Nothing planned; nothing thought out, just inert occurrence that alters someone’s life. For Swedish disco-rock band, The Sounds, their formation was just a simple accident, and one that just seemed to be waiting to happen. The band, which has been making music together since 1998, formed in high school, when singer Maja Ivarsson performed the Smashing Pumpkins song “Soma” in front of her class as part of a project, fellow classmate Felix Rodriguez, then asked her to play the song in a band he was forming. From there on, The Sounds began building a buzz in their town, then their country then pretty soon across Europe and before they knew it, they were one of the most talked about new bands of the early 2000’s when they released their debut, Living in America in 2002.

While Maja was in town recently to perform with her friend and tattoo artist, Kat Von D as part of Fashion Night Out, I had the chance to sit down with the singer at her hotel as we discussed her band and her accidental career. “I never dreamt about becoming a singer, I was in the same class as Felix and it was just an accident. To think this started over a Smashing Pumpkins song is funny.” The Sounds, now thirteen years into their career, released their fourth album, Something to Die For earlier this year and have been on the road supporting it, the band return back to the US for the second time this year for another marathon tour.

For Something to Die For, they did something very different, they decided to produce and make the record on their own and not hire a producer like they did in the past. “When we do pre-production, we do it all on our own and I like the demo’s we make. So when you sing it over and over again for someone, it loses the magic it had when you first recorded it,” Maja then continued with “we are much more comfortable as a band now and we want to keep our sound.” That sound is what has generated The Sounds from dance floors around the globe to massive fields playing at some of the world’s biggest summer festivals. “We started off recording dark songs, but our demo’s didn’t work with dark songs and then we turned everything around, made it a bit more hit oriented,” Maja says of the band’s early sound, “By the time we released, ‘Living in America,’ we knew it was our way out of Sweden and Europe and ticket to America. We had the American dream and still have the American dream.” For The Sounds and the acclaim they received early on from the likes of Dave Grohl, Quentin Tarantino, Gwen Stefani and other famous faces, it helped them launch into a different league but Maja says “I think it is really flattering what happened and when the celebs heard our music it was cool, but I’d rather have ten real fans than one celebrity love my music.” Yet, as we know in America a celebrity endorsement of any kind is good business, “America is so much harder than anyone can imagine, so I am really happy with what we have accomplished. It is all hard work but for us we just keep touring and still to this day, building a fan base going back to the same cities.”

As Maja and The Sounds continue to tour relentlessly around the world, they never seem to get tired of what they are doing, “touring leads to inspiration, it is the reason to be in a band!” The band’s live shows have been praised by various music lovers and The Sounds have become a must see act, “I love to see good performances, I want to put on the best show every time, I owe it to the audience every night.” Maja does this with such poise, she has become an inspiration for young girls around the world, she has also become one of the most swooned over women in rock and roll, when I asked her if she considered herself a sex symbol, she laughed and said “no, I am not ashamed of it, but it is just hard to think of yourself in those terms.” Though she is not embarrassed to what genetics gave her, “if you got it, flaunt it.” The beautiful singer has become the face of Sebastian Professional and Sephora and has taken her punk meets glam style to the runway. She culminates everything about herself and the band when she said “touring as an artist and performer, you want to entertain people, from the music to the fashion, its all a visual thing and then you add a bit of danger and its really cool.” For Maja and The Sounds, these philosophies have carried them from a small town in Sweden to around the world and show no signs of stopping.