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20 Questions: We Are Serenades

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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012
What happens when you combine two of the smartest pop songwriters that Sweden has to offer? You get the incredible, feel-good bounce of We Are Serenades, and the band sits down with PopMatters to talk pencils, porridge, and re-imagining a Flaming Lips album in 3D . . .

We Are Serenades are a hell of an amalgamation.

On one hand, you have Adam Olenius, member of the Shout Out Louds, a Swedish group that lit up the blogosophere in the mid-late Aughties with impossibly catchy pop-rock numbers like “Impossible” and “Tonight I Have to Leave It”. Their songs were featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and commercials, and they had a small commercial following (their 2010 album Work actually entered the Billboard charts at #200 when released). Yet since that album, the band has remained rather silent.

Markus Krunegård, meanwhile, is an accomplished pop musician in his own right, having been a part of the Pello Revolvers, Hets, Laakso (noted for singles like their noteworthy “Demon”), and of his own solo work as well.

So what do the two gentlemen have in common? (Aside from being acclaimed Swedish rock musicians, obviously.) They have formed a new band called We Are Serenades, a pop force which definitely aims for widescreen pop: soaring choruses, fascinating instrumentation, and a feel-good sense of wonder that is impossible to face. With their debut album Criminal Heaven out now (their single “Birds” is already an incredible, orchestral box of sunshine for your ears), the band is doing the promotional rounds, which also includes a stop off to PopMatters’ 20 Questions, where the dynamic duo reveals the duo’s love of pencils, coffee & porridge, and the possibility of re-envisioning the Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin in 3D . . .
* * *

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Adam Olenius: The Spanish movie Biutiful. What a dark piece of work! I liked how they portrayed Barcelona. Almost like the city in Blade Runner. A big city anywhere in the world.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Adam Olenius: Peter Pan. Old? Young? A man? A kid? I dunno. I feel like that sometimes—a lot actually. He also has a nice outfit and looks like a flying Robin Hood. And I was a little bit in love with Tingeling (Tinkerbell) as a kid.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Adam Olenius: Today: Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue. Tomorrow: Dinosaur Jr, Where You Been. I don’t like it but lately my taste in music has become broader and broader. I need J Mascis for the same reasons I need Miles.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Adam Olenius: Star Wars. Star Trek is not very big in Sweden. Just know they have cool hair and nice overalls. Star Wars on the other hand was enormous here. I had all the movies and a lot of the characters as toys. My favorite was Lando Calrissian.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Adam Olenius: Books and magazines. I don’t read that often but when I read a good book I have tons of notes. Going to the hairdresser is also a great place to be creative. You just sit there and look yourself in the mirror for 45 minutes and think about your life.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Adam Olenius: This was the first album I (Adam) produced myself (with Markus). We didn’t think too much and just tried all the ideas we came up with. The best idea won. And just the fact that you can put albums and fill them with words and music and make a living out of it is an accomplishment itself.
7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?

Adam Olenius: A melody maker. And if people start their own bands after listening to my music I will rest in peace.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

Adam Olenius:  Yo La Tengo. Kraftwerk. Chet Baker. The Smiths. Jay Z. Lou Reed. The Clash.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Adam Olenius: At this very moment: Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin. It is like stepping into a musical cartoon. This album would work in 3D . . . I don’t know how that would work, but I’m working on it.
10. Your hidden talents . . . ?

Adam Olenius: Parallel parking. I’m a magician!

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Markus Krunegård: Listen to your heart. Roxette gave me the advice, it helps.       
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

Markus Krunegård:  I love good pencils—ink ones. I steal them, borrow them, buy them all the time . . . sometimes you find one that has the perfect flow.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?

Markus Krunegård: A mixture of anything other than a uniform is always better. Very expensive clothes make me feel special though, since I have so few.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Markus Krunegård: I’d like to dine with Frida Kahlo. It could be a colorful night. Just look at her self-portraits . . . I’d like to be close to that fire in her eyes.
15. Time travel: where, when, and why?

Markus Krunegård: Last year. I’ve got some things I could have done better.  But other than that, hm . . . the library in Alexandria that burned down. Guess some things got lost in that fire and not knowing things annoys me, so I’d go there and still my curiosity.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?

Markus Krunegård: A drink? Never tried Prozac; wanna know the zombie feeling of nothing affecting you.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?

Markus Krunegård: Coffee and porridge make my day.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Markus Krunegård: Mexico is a must. Don’t join a gang and avoid the border areas—besides that it’s the best. The best of the best is San Cristobal in Chiapas.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Markus Krunegård: Fuck off, I’m no good in argumentations and we would get there sooner or later, so could as well start with the bottom line.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Markus Krunegård: I’m working on not doing anything—talking less on the phone and such—but as a band we’re working on the live show, teaching our new drummer the songs, dance moves, all that. See you.


We Are Serenades - "Birds"
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