It feels like the first day of spring. Well, it’s the first time this year that no one seems to be wearing coats on the streets of London, at least. And inside a Soho bar, four members of Le Kid are about to have lunch with their manager.
Until Schlagerfiasko arrives.
In what has become a seasoned pastime, I’ve been stalking the band for this interview for some time, so after a bit of badgering, I’ve been given permission to stop them from eating.
Le Kid (all except Anton, who has stayed at home for family reasons) is in London on various missions. In no order of importance, these are: to eat sushi; to see Sophie Ellis-Bextor at G.A.Y.; to meet record companies; to visit the British Museum; to get rid of Schlagerfiasko quickly so they can have lunch in peace. I empathise with all these goals.
The five-piece group is made up of Felix Persson, Märta Grauers and Anton Malmberg Hård af Segersted – all songwriters and musicians, who are joined by lead singers Helena Lillberg and Johanna Berglund. Between them, they’ve worked with the likes of Agnes, BWO, Alcazar, Velvet, Eric Saade and Malena Ernman, among many others. So it’s fair to say that they know what they’re doing when it comes to pop.
Debut single Mercy Mercy was released to acclaim throughout Europe in 2009, and after plenty of time in the studio, the debut album, Oh Alright!, is in the can, and waiting to be released at the start of June.
Before then, of course, there’s the aftermath of Melodifestivalen to pick over. At least, that’s what I’m making them do…
You entered the Melodifestivalen bubble for the first time this year with Oh My God, and came fifth in your heat. How do you feel about that in retrospect?
Felix: Well, I think the Melodifestivalen voting public isn’t necessarily the same as the general music-buying public – in fact, the voters are probably a small segment of that. I think it’s hard to compare the popularity of someone like Sanna Nielsen with Love Generation based on Melodifestivalen results. I’m not criticising Sanna in any way, but with Love Generation there was the whole RedOne thing, and even that didn’t succeed in the competition. You know, Le Kid is like really spicy food – the first time you have a taste, you don’t like us – but give it a year, and you want ever be able to eat that bland old thing again. We’re whisky and modern art! So the result doesn’t matter.
Johanna: We’re sushi!
And how was the experience of the actual competition itself?
Helena: Luleå was cold.
Johanna: As soon as we went into the schlagerbubble, people were asking us who our biggest competitors were. But we just wanted to make it the best Le Kid gig ever – we wanted to have fun. That sounds like a cliché, but for us, we were performing to show everyone what we’re about.
Märta: It was hard to see the other competitors as our ‘enemies’, because everyone was doing something different.
Johanna: Yes, everyone was friendly. There was no rivalry at all.
Felix: Look, you have a choice. You can buy into all that perceived rivalry and enter into the competition like you’re a football player, and do everything you can to make it as likely as possible that you’ll go through to the final. That isn’t always the best thing to do, of course. But we sat down and decided we wouldn’t do anything like that. We could either make it popular or good. And we wanted to do a fantastic performance. When you decide that, you have to leave the competition thing alone, because you can’t do both.
Despite that, did you have any hopes of winning?
Märta: Of course. But we didn’t want to win the whole thing. We certainly didn’t want to go to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Helena: No, that wasn’t the goal at all.
Johanna: We wanted to reach the biggest audience possible. If we’d gone through to the final, perhaps more people would have seen us, and we could have gained more fans. But the contest part of it wasn’t important in itself.
Helena: The final would have been great, though…
Felix: Going to Eurovision would have been too much, even just thinking about all the preparation to perform there. It’s not that beneficial for our careers to represent Sweden at Eurovision – it would have been a bad move, in fact. If we had gone to the Melodifestivalen final, we would have wanted to win that, of course.
That’s interesting, because Loreen said the opposite – she was all set to do a full show in Düsseldorf if she’d won…
Helena: Loreen is amazing, I have her song on all the time!
Felix: Sure, we’d have done the same. But with all due respect, there are artists that live in the schlagerbubble all year round – singers like Sanna Nielsen and Nanne Grönvall. They’re great, but we’re not them. For Melodifestivalen, we just wanted to pop in, say “Hi!”, and get out again. And that’s not being rude, it’s just the way that Le Kid is.
Johanna: Yes, it wasn’t about Eurovision. We wanted to meet Sweden, and Melodifestivalen is the only real way to do that. It wasn’t a hard decision to enter.
Felix: And it was amazing fun.
Johanna: It was also a shock. We went in there thinking that we could make it all as ‘Le Kiddish’ as possible. But we quickly realised that we could also be killed by the media. That actually didn’t happen. We realised afterwards that we’d got so much positive press. We weren’t reading it at the time, though.
Helena: No, our PR made a deal with us that we wouldn’t read anything while it was all going on. It was such a great surprise afterwards that people who love pop music loved us! That gave us some real credibility.
Felix: There were a couple of mean stories, but in general everyone was really nice. We could have got so much more press if we wanted, though. That’s the weird deal about it all. We did some really good interviews, saying some fun things, but they didn’t make it into the papers – the reason being that we didn’t diss anyone, we didn’t complain about our hotel, or cause any scandals.
Märta: And we weren’t obsessed with the competition, we just talked about everyone else and what we’ve been doing ourselves.
Felix: Yes, that was the deal. We refused to be negative. But if you’re not negative, then you don’t make the papers.
Johanna: But that’s just us – we’re not like that. We have to be ourselves, so we got on the carousel, said hello, and got off. We did that and it went well.
Felix: It was weird doing interviews knowing that they were really good, but would never be published just because we weren’t being scandalous – just interesting. That wasn’t enough. Weird.
Johanna: We did have some fun, tough. We did an interview and just mentioned that Felix had lost something. Then they asked us about what was the worst thing that has ever happened to us, so I said that it was when Felix has lost a prosthetic! And later on, Felix said the same to someone else. So this rumour started, and everyone was asking us if it was true!
Felix: We’d pretend to be really uncomfortable if they asked us about it.
Helena: So they’d be thinking they’d offended us, and apologise for asking the question!
Felix: We heard rumours in the production team that people thought we’d lost my arm.
Helena: So Felix walked around with a stiff arm!
You’re very naughty. And hilarious. (I can confirm there was nothing stiff about Felix because I was sitting next to him.) Would you go through this experience again?
Märta: No way! Or if we did, I’d want to do it in a different country…
Märta: Or Liechtenstein!
Felix: If we were to do it again, I think it’s likely that we wouldn’t do it in Sweden, just for the fun of it. It’d be fun to represent the Netherlands and beat Sweden in some place like Helsingborg…
Coming up in part two, the group discuss the new album, and what it’s like to be popular overseas…
Photo: Le Kid