When, for the first time, I saw Fever Ray’s video clip for the song “Seven”, I thought that I am being fooled by my own imagination. Then I did not know that well, what she is Karin Dreijer Andersson from Sweden and an old lady in the leading role quite misguided me. I also did not anticipate that a game with masks and forms, in the acquaintance with this performer, has only started and threatens to cause a positive dependence.
Fever Ray is Karin Dreijer Andersson. Alone with her own ideas, fears and changing exterior personality. But we should start from the beginning, when in 1999, the former vocalist of a perspective band Honey Is Cool turned to a different direction. Those, who already know the name Fever Ray, probably will have heard another – The Knife. Only on this project they work as a pair, together with her brother Olof Dreijer. They are intriguing and even a little frightening skeptics, adoring mysterious masks in photo sessions and loyalty to gloomy electropop sounds. Together they created Rabid Records studio, in which the whole mystic of the duet is converted into sounds. The third The Knife album “Silent Shout” won six Sweden Grammy awards. In addition, they won two Grammies in 2003, when they were selected as the best pop band in Sweden, though they boycotted the award ceremony by sending two in gorilla costumes dressed persons to represent them. After the big wave of recognition, Karin needed a break. Would you be surprised after hearing that the author of such horrifyingly cold music is also a mother of two children? Actually, she takes inspiration for the lyrics from her children too.
The Knife did not die and gave a great beginning for a solo Karin’s project that started in 2009. The need for space? She felt that she probably couldn’t realize some ideas in the company as she would like, even if the company is her brother. In this case, The Knife was a bridge to an even deeper forest called Fever Ray, in which almost no sun light can be seen and wild animals walk around dressed in black cloaks. These two projects are almost dramatically different, even though it’s not easy to feel that from the beginning because the vocal and the electronic stylistic in almost the same. However, Fever Ray is not pursuing an effective invasion, it’s a slow process of colonizing, in one way or the other, affecting the listener’s inner world, darker, angrier and more mysterious. The ideas became a material reality after releasing the “Fever Ray” album in 2009 that received a lot of support from the audience. Some of you will notice that this album reflects the best moments from The Knife album “Silent Shout”, which is considered to be the peak of the duet’s success. Andersson managed to discover a particular formula for creating music and taking it into hardly reachable heights.
I think the music should be able to stand for itself without interfering, like what the artist looks like. That’s something you find out during the process, it’s a steady ongoing process about how you survive. When you work with music, you have the possibility to create magic.
The piece “Now’s the only time I know” perfectly displays the quirkiness of her voice adapting to the rhythm of music and the mood. I don’t know whether because of that and is it only me, but it probably became the most memorable, transporting into new spaces even when walking along the same path for the hundredth time, shouting together with your own dry – rot feature. Meanwhile, “If I had a heart” became the first Fever Ray’s single and started a new colony in the world of electronics’ map. I recommend you to listen to it whilst the evening lights in the streets are coming on. Andersson has also worked with Norwegian electronic music pioneers Röyksopp. Her vocal is heard in the compositions “What else is there”, “Tricky tricky” and “This must be it”. In the video clip, “What else is there” she is traditionally embodied by a hired model.
Karin’s creation doesn’t end with sound recordings. Every video clip conveys a different vision, with different masks and constantly different authors. Alone as well as with her brother, she gives an especially great effort for this work. Usually, a known Swede artist Andreas Nilsson, who also worked with such groups as MGMT, Moby, Goldfrapp, helps them. The characters are sort of searching for themselves, praying to a non – existent God, wondering through unknown spaces and risking to come in contact with their own fears. Yes, as there is not one Fever Ray’s song about love, there is no clip that would be easily comprehended. The coldness of a triangle, surrealism and antiquity reminding motives of occultism is successfully combined here. The combination quite affectively misleads those, who are searching for the answer. And also, what is the point of showing your real face in photo sessions, if instead we can show, how the music sounds? It was the philosophy of The Knife and Fever Ray kept similar traditions, only now it’s a bit more straightforward. She also appears in the “Stranger than kindness” video clip. However, if there is no perfectly concealing mask, it feels that it’s not going to be a disclosure that would present the performer’s inner world as a simplest mathematical formula in a school book for five graders. Even if you hear “If I had a heart I could love you”, the term “I” is only another secret amongst the abundance of others. She writes song lyrics so that the context would keep a boundary between a fairy tale and personality.
The single “Stranger than kindness”, recorded after the whole album was finished, airs a bright addition of coldness into the Fever Ray’s discography. Karin’s voice sounds without earlier shown hints of femininity and the lyrics breathe pain and disorientation. “There is no hope there is no bread, we sit at the gate and scratch”. Will this be a new step in her music? I started to notice a bigger resistance to the modern world, the imposed order, the soulless towers and the petrifaction of thought. There is a statement of fact, without hope, in solitude, without the wish to know more and without naïve dreams.
But maybe sometimes it’s better not to go there, where you’re not welcome, where knowledge and unconditional clarity are not the best resort? Whilst listening to Fever Ray, you will always be left in solitude, after getting the right to hear the sound of a mysterious action. That screenplay doesn’t belong to you and it never will. Only stabbing cold in the night, in a non – existent forest.
Do my hair, paint eyelash,
Reappear in a flash
There is more I‘d like to know.
Nine fifteen and I am done
Quiet front seat then drive around,
Through the water through the snow