Music

20 Questions: Taken by Trees

It was a tranquil cover of "Sweet Child o' Mine" that helped her break through, but her island-inspired dreampop is a sound all its own. Victoria Bergsman sits down with PopMatters to discuss animals, Harry Rabbit, and teach us some Swedish as well.


Taken by Trees

Other Worlds

Label: Secretly Canadian
US Release Date: 2012-10-02
Amazon
iTunes

Victoria Bergsman has had a pretty fantastic career. In fact, she's had two of them.

First, she's well known for being the voice of Swedish indie-rock group the Concretes, who formed in 1995 and have been recording ever since. A great deal of the group's recognition coming from the albums recorded with Bergsman before her departure from the band in 2006. Since then, she's been putting out albums under the moniker Taken by Trees, and a well-timed cover of Guns 'N Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine", which was used extensively in TV ads and movie trailers, helped slowly push Bergsman into the mainstream.

Now, with Other Worlds, her latest, she recontextualizes island music into her own world. By using instruments you'd normally find on Hawaiian albums and adapting them to create a dreamlike quality that only amplifies her well-honed pop chops, the whole thing sounding like precious few records out there today. To help celebrate the release of Other Worlds, Bergsman has sat down with PopMatters to discuss how mind-blowing animals are, why she finds a counterpoint in Harry Rabbit Angstrom, and proceeds to teach us some interesting Swedish turns of phrase . . .

+ + +

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

Sorry, I just can't remember.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Harry Rabbit Angstrom (Rabbit, Run) 'cause he takes punches and keeps going.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Animals: they just constantly blow my mind.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Are we talking about my new album here? If so, because I followed a vision fully and completed it.

7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?

As someone who tried to constantly push myself creatively.

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

Magellan.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

The Binomial Nomenclature by Carl Linnaeus.

10. Your hidden talents . . . ?

"Koka soppa på en spik", a Swedish phrase that means "making a soup out of a nail", which translates to be able to make a meal out of minimal ingredients.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Well, it wasn’t a proper advice in that sense, more a look. The look my cat who recently passed away gave me whenever I stressed out about something -- the look saying "Take it easy, everything will be just fine."

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

A one-way ticket to LA.

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

My baby's arms.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Charles Darwin and Benjamin Franklin.

15. Time travel: where, when, and why?

Two months from now, when I will be laying on a Mexican beach newly wedded.

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

Deep breaths, sex, good food, wine, and baths.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?

Same as above.

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

Spooning my baby on a beach with a perfect temperature of 82 Fahrenheit hanging in the air.

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

"Resign."

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Mostly stuff like this leading up to my album release.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image