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A Wee Chat With Camilla Dahlstedt From Last Lynx

Last Lynx

Sweden's Last Lynx have been quietly turning the dial up to 11. After an auspicious start — their first track 'Killing Switch' found its way to #1 on the Hype Machine just days after release — the band cemented their early promise with the EPs Alaska (2011) and Ocean Reels (2013). Their most recent single, 'Curtains', was released a couple of weeks ago and has already raced past 150,000 listens on Soundcloud, and August will see them take to the stage in London Town on two consecutive days: they play Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on August 1st and at Kopparberg's Urban Forest event on August 2nd. Musos' Guide caught up with Camilla Dahlstedt, the band's keyboard and percussion playing co-lead singer, to find out a little bit more about the band. 

MG: I suppose, considering this is your debut on Musos' Guide, I've got to start with the most predictable question. Can you introduce the various band members to our readers, and tell us a little bit more about your roles in the band? 

We're a five piece; Robin Eveborn, Kim Lindqvist, Marcus Lindblom, Fredric Lindblom and me (Camilla).
Robin is the producer, one of the lead singers, plays keyboard, synthesizers, etc. 
Kim plays bass guitar, Marcus electric guitar, Fredric plays the drums and also writes a lot of the lyrics. 
I am the other lead singer, play keyboard and percussion.

MG: The band only formed relatively recently [in 2011]. Can you tell us a little bit about how you guys got together? 

We're all from the same suburb right outside of Stockholm and some of us played together in bands before; Fredric and Marcus played music together since they were youngsters - I've played in bands with them as well and Robin and Kim have played music together before. Last Lynx started with Robin, Marcus and Fredric wanting to write together, so they played around in the studio making hip hop beats and then they wanted me to try some vocal stuff, I think it started with only the word "alaskaaa..", we just continued to try more stuff and eventually I sang on several of the tracks as a featured artist. We released that ourselves as the Alaska EP which was received very well in the blogosphere and live requests started to land in our inbox so we were psyched and just thought - well then, let's start a band! And since Kim and Robin have known each other for a long time and played music together before, he was a natural choice as a bass player. 

MG: You’re signed to SoFo Records, and the fact that Universal has its own Swedish division says a lot about what an awesome music industry is flourishing in your country. Is there anything in particular that makes Sweden such a great place to be a musician — do you think you’re more free creatively, for instance, because you’re away a little bit from the more glossy, processed music industries of the USA and UK?

The thing is, I haven't really practiced music on a daily basis anywhere else than Sweden, I've visited but it's not the same thing as living it. So it's hard to answer when you haven't really seen it from the outside. But the fact that I haven't thought about it maybe answers your question, we're very free creatively. But I/we can't speak for everyone. There are probably Swedish musicians stuck in shitty deals which limits them creatively and forces them to release stuff they're not proud of. But the music industry isn't big in Sweden but it's also a small country so most people involved in it know - or know of each other - so I don't think there is much room to be an asshole. And I believe the best songs come from musicians who haven't been limited by a certain frame or musical ideal.

MG: Your sound is really cool – and very distinctive. Where other bands at the moment make you think of bands from the past (like the whole scuzzy '90s thing), I think your sound is really fresh. Did you guys have a very specific idea of how you wanted the band to sound, and are there any particular bands / artists that have influenced or inspired you?

Thanks! A part of it is that we come from different music backgrounds. I sang mostly jazz and soul, Robin and Kim have played/written everything from metal to electronic music and Fredric and Marcus have played indie rock/-pop music. But from the beginning Robin, Marcus and Fredric wanted to keep it as a studio project with featuring artists. Initially they wanted to make hip hop, or at least hip hop beats but it melted down to pop with a feeling of hip hop. The real key to our sound is that Robin is our producer, so our demos often have a "Last Lynx"-sound from the first draft. 

MG: What’s your writing process like? I read in an interview elsewhere that ‘Lacuna’ started with a bass line and came together really quickly - is there a particular song-writing method that you guys share?

There is no specific method but often Robin or Marcus comes up with an idea in the studio that someone else picks up on. Sometimes we jam at the rehearsal place and then take it to the studio or the other way around. Then we take it back and forth until we're satisfied. 

MG: You recently announced gigs in London at the start of August — what have your experiences on the road been like so far, and do you have any plans for a longer UK tour?

We love playing live and our gigs in UK so far have been awesome, so yeah we would love to come for a longer tour, but nothing is set in stone yet.

MG: Can you tell us a little bit more about your upcoming EP Rifts? Is it shaping up to be very much the big brother, sound-wise, of Alaska and Ocean Reels, and can you give us any hints about the release date? 

I think all of our EP's have the same sound atmosphere, that's the basis for all of our songs, much thanks to Robin who produces. The biggest difference between Alaska and the later two is that some of the songs were written in the rehearsal space, while Alaska was entirely written in the studio. The Rifts EP is our third release and I think we've grown closer as a band and become better songwriters, which I hope shows. We don't have an exact release date yet, but it'll be late summer/early autumn. 

MG: Finally, what does the rest of the year have in store for you? Will you be hitting the studio again as the nights get longer, or are you out on the road?

We're gonna play live as much as possible and work on new stuff any time we get the chance to!

A Spot Of Banter With Heather Macleod of The Bevvy Sisters

The Bevvy Sisters burst onto the music scene to a burst of acclaim: their debut album St. James Sessions caused listeners and critics alike to prick up their ears, and was welcomed with a sold-out launch show at Glasgow's Celtic Connections in 2010. This March saw the release of their latest album, Plan B, and the coming months will see the band play live dates at the Kelburn Garden Party (6th July) and a couple of high-profile dates at Edinburgh's beloved Festival venue, The Spiegeltent, on he 8th and 24th August. We caught up with co-founder of the band, Heather Macleod, to catch up on all things Bevvy.

MG: For readers unfamiliar with the band, and for those keen to find out more, can you tell us a bit about the history of The Bevvy Sisters and how the band came into existence?

HM: After starting out as backing vocal singers in my own band in 2006, we then stepped out front at the helm of The Loveboat Big Band. A craving for space and a wider range of material led us to first step out as The Bevvy Sisters in 2009, accompanied by only drums and guitar. Since then we have seen changes in the line-up, from the original trio of voices with Kaela Rowan and Lindsey Black, passing through a time with Roberta Pia, and then settled with the current line up going live at the beginning of last year. David Donnelly (Demus) and I shared a flat which is when we began to make music together, although I'd admired his playing and his work as a producer for years beforehand. Likewise Gina Rae, who I am a long time fan of. We worked together as bvs in Kaela Rowan's band. Cera Implala arrived in a timely fashion in 2012 and struck us as 'very Bevvy' just as Roberta was moving off to London.

MG: Your first album was released to lots of acclaim. How did it feel to attract such attention with your debut — did you worry about it being a hard act to follow or was it something that drove the band forwards?

HM: We didn't worry at the time, we just did our best to keep up! It does change the dynamic in a band when a deeper commitment suddenly must be made, and maybe the changes in the line-up that followed were partly due to that. What was clear, however, was how much people loved the format in which we were working – basically using the age-old female vocal trio framework but working with material that reaches far wider than the associated stereotype. In our time we've included '50s adverts, folk, jazz and Ivor Cutler in our sets!

MG: The vocal interplay between the different members of the band is gorgeous and gives the songs a really distinctive timbre. What are the particular strengths that each band member brings to your tonal palette? (and I include David in this question too, of course!).

HM: Thanks! Yes, there are 4 very individual tones at play. What I love is the way that each voice occupies it's own space and you can enjoy any voice individually at any time whilst listening. However, as you say, it's the strength of the combination of the voices that is special. Multiple voices singing on one breath is a tremendously exciting thing both to do and to listen to. As you get to know each other's tendencies of phrasing and tone it's a joy to lean into each other to enhance that further. It's a basic human reaction to be drawn to the sound of voices in harmony. Although we enjoy using a wide dynamic range, we're all capable of being quite strong, big singers. I put that down to the fact that we hail from more of a blues/jazz background. We certainly don't fall into the category of 'sugar sweet'.

MG: Your live shows are lauded both for their musicality and the warm relationship you share with audiences. Is there anything in particular that makes live performance so special for you?  And, looking forward to summer dates like Kelburn Garden Party and The Speigeltent, is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to in terms of planning your live sets and the opportunity to interact with audiences?

HM: Live is really where it's at. It's there that you can have an experience together with a group of people in one room, feel the air move and tell your story. We're not too earnest and although we don't take ourselves too seriously on a personal level, we do take the the responsibility of that experience seriously. In essence we aim for an all round uplifting experience, to deliver musically but to have a good laugh too. We all have a lot of experience and so we're relaxed. 

The Speigeltent is one of our favourite venues and we have performed in it at various festivals over the years. We're delighted at it's return to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. It feels like home, and when the room feels relaxed and you gain an audience's trust, a good time will be had.

MG: The Americana that infuses your work is absolutely gorgeous. Did Cera’s arrival in the band heighten that particular influence in your work — and are there any artists in that genre (or others) that you’re particularly inspired by?

HM: We were already working with a good few songs in that style by the time Cera arrived in Edinburgh in 2012, and as there is such a strong relationship between Americana and Scottish song that was part of the attraction to work with Cera and hence why we thought she would work with us. The banjo and her vast experience shine through beautifully and seal the deal on that particular sound for sure. In that particular genre, Tim O'Brien and his sister Molly have been an inspiration. Other influences are so many! Nina Simone, Boswell Sisters, Tom Waits, Patsy Cline, Rosetta Tharpe, Betty Carter, Stevie Wonder ... and on ….. and on....and on!

MG: Your most recent album, Plan B, was released in March this year. Can you tell me a bit more about the creation of the record? 

HM: Both our albums have been approached in the same way, i.e. fundamentally live. Record at the point the arrangements and songs have settled, get into a good studio (in this case Mobile with a home) with a great engineer (Mattie Foulds) and some fantastic microphones, and run the song up to 4 times round, and you should have it. It's a challenging way of recording as you all have to be exactly on it all together, however if you manage to capture the moment when you are, it's incomparable to recording by over-dubs. The essence of what we do is our relationship with each other, and it's only really by singing together you can really get that on record.

MG: I’d really like to hear more about your early music days in Aberdeen. I found that when I was an undergrad, the city was a really encouraging place in terms of welcoming new bands and giving them lots of opportunities to get up on stage — did the city and / or your time at the Art School play a part in inspiring you as a musician?

HM: Absolutely. Over the time I was there a whole blues jam culture kind of exploded. It started off in the Drift Inn, by the docks, which was packed every Saturday afternoon, and over the course of a couple of years occupied many venues in the city. We would do the 'circuit' of Blues Jams over the week, and Monday night was the only night without one. I spent more time out at those than I did painting - and limping with tambourine bruises was a common ailment!

MG: I’d also love to hear more about your role in setting up Bongo Club, as it’s such an Edinburgh institution and awesome space. In the six years that I've been back in Edinburgh it’s gone from strength to strength (especially in terms of hosting brilliantly eclectic nights and after moving into the Cowgate) — what inspired its inception, and what do you think its legacy has been on the city?

HM: Eclectic was always the leading thing with the Bongo Club and I'm delighted that trademark has continued through it's time. The original home in New St is a much lamented time for many in Edinburgh, and the many friends that made it their home over festival times. It was a real chapter in Edinburgh's 'scene'.The key to that time though, I reckon, was the fact that it was all under one roof. Artists' studios, cafe, bar, gallery, and venue. People got talking and made it their meeting place and second home, and where people talk, ideas happen. At the time (and in the time since!) there was a great need for a mid-sized venue to work through, and Out of the Blue, made it policy to support new work, to make the space accessible and to include live performance as far as possible. The fact that it still survives, whilst other venues have shut all around the city, is a legacy in itself! 

MG: Getting back from that wee diversion, what does the rest of the year have in store for you? 

HM: More of the same, and more of the same... We've had a great response to our new album Plan B and we hope it will result in us being able to continue what we are doing. We have some nice live recordings from our album launches and lots of ideas for new material, so as ever, there's lots to do! As for the band, we all busy away at various all sorts: The Loveboat Big Band includes Demus and I, and the Bevvys often appear as guests. As well as our own dates in the Speigeltent this Fringe, The Loveboat Big Band will do three dates there on the 7th,15th and the 25th.

If you'd like to keep up to date with The Bevvy Sisters, you can check out the band on Facebook and Twitter. To find out more about their upcoming live dates and music downloads, head on over to the band's website

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