The Knife: Giving you another deep electro gash
The air is icy and the street is doused almost completely in darkness, except for the shimmering of the bright white snow as it twinkles under the light of the full moon. My heart is racing so fast that it feels like it might thump right through my chest at any minute, and I’m jumping like a jack in the box at every passing shadow dancing upon the walls of this eerie alleyway. I could call for help, but would anybody be around to hear me? And if someone was close by, would they understand me? If only I’d managed to get further than the first page of Swedish 101, maybe I’d be able to string together at least half a fluent sentence right now!
Suddenly my thoughts are interrupted by a haunting electro melody that seems to be coming from the intersecting alley ahead. Without hesitation I start running towards the warmly familiar sound, following it to what looks, from the outside, like an old dilapidated warehouse. As I slip inside, my jaw drops… The sound, it’s lifting me, it’s coming from all around, as if it’s emanating from the four walls surrounding me. Then the room comes to life with exuberant colour. Two large projection screens flash frantically with gorgeous and gruesome video, all rolling completely in-sync with the music. There are two dark figures in the middle of it all, and as I move closer I see that the two androgynous figures are dressed head to toe in black overalls and matching black masks with long, hooked beaks. Our attention is soon stolen by two strange and evil-looking characters, not unlike school mascots except for their exceptionally large heads. One has two heads upon its shoulders, and they’re prancing around the room miming the song’s lyrics, all with an intriguing beauty and an added dash of horror.
What exactly is this? Is it theatre? Disco? Performance art? I’m still unsure which box to tick, but whatever it is, I’m captivated. There’s no way it could be a gig, the dynamics of the whole show are far too extravagant and complex! But of course, that’s where I can and have been sorely mistaken, because when the artists responsible are Sweden’s outlandish and sonically-alluring Dreijer siblings, Karin and Olof, we all know that tradition will be the first thing to be kicked to the curb. “We worked with Andreas Nilsson [Silent Shout] for many months getting the show ready, and now we finally feel like we have a reason to be standing onstage. Because now we have something to give to the audience that we couldn’t before,” says Olof of their new theatrical show. “It’s been really exciting and great to learn about surround sound, I think it’s a great development in music!” He comments of the state of the art technology they’ve been able to utilise to make it all happen. But, being onstage is still a little daunting for the 24 year old, preferring to keep his mind off the audience. “I don’t see the audience through my mask and I don’t hear them, I have this in-ear system that keeps me shut off from it all and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he laughs nervously.
The fact that Olof and his elder sister have taken their first steps into the live arena is something many across the world have been awaiting with eager anticipation. From the beginning of their career The Knife have made no attempt to hide the fact that they don’t like the idea of being considered celebrities, and they’re equally anxious when it comes to the media attention lauded on them. Take, for instance, their first ever European TV appearance (or non-appearance); a cheeky controversial prank which gained the duo even more intrigue and respect from their international fanbase. They sent two friends along to the Swedish Music Awards to accept a prize in their place. They stormed the stage donning gorilla masks and t-shirts emblazoned with ‘50/50’ (a reference to the band’s protest for sexual equality) and made a dig about the lack of women in the industry during their speech. Since then, the siblings have kept a certain air of mystery, posing for press shots in masks and refusing to do a lot of interviews until now.
But now that they’ve just released ‘Silent Shout’, indisputably their proudest work to date, they’re keen to get out into the spotlight, to make sure their new opus is heard by as many people as possible. They’re happy to finally leave behind their last album, ‘Deep Cuts’, a concept LP crafted in a poptastic package. Their motivation was to bring political ideas and gender issues out into the commercial forum. “That’s why we tried for the first time to make songs with a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, it was almost like a joke to us and it didn’t really make a difference in the ways we intended. So now we’re just happy to be back on track,” Olof explains in all honesty. “I think we were just tired of the easy thing and wanted to go back to making music, how we like it, from the heart and not so much like a packaged pop record.” A pre-packaged, well-calculated pop record it ain’t, ‘Silent Shout’ is more like the hard-hitting, danger loving, thrill chasing sister or brother with a hunger for the night and what lurks in amongst the shadows. A record that ventures deeper into the unknown electro chill, that we first fell for with their debut self-titled affair.
The period between the two releases has been an intense time for the Dreijer siblings, as they kept themselves busy with the writing of a film score after wrapping up the last of the single releases and accompanying videos for ‘Deep Cuts’. It was something that opened their eyes to sound and its relation to moving pictures, an experience that Olof is looking forward to working with more in the near future. The band will be taking a three year hiatis after promotions for ‘Silent Shout’ come to a close. “I’m so happy to have Silent Shout out now and we can concentrate on our shows and the label before taking a break to work on solo stuff,” offers Olof enthusiastically. The solo material that he’s so eager to get back into are a few techno tracks he’s had kicking around for the last few years, which time hasn’t permitted him to finish off. “I’m looking very forward to getting back to them with some fresh ideas now and getting them out,” he says of his upcoming Coolof material, which is likely to see the light of day on a smaller indie 12” label. “I’m also hoping to do some more work for cinema or contemporary dance, which I’ve been working for. [It’s] exciting, there’s just so much to go on to, before we come back after a few years and start working on the next album again,” he says.
As for when The Knife might be likely to land upon our shores to give us some live lovin’, those plans are still being worked out as they try to come up with a way to fly their rather elaborate stage set up across the world. “The current set up is impossible to fly with because of these dolls, they’re so big that we have to take them everywhere by car, so we have to come up with something a little more flight friendly and then we can come,” he laughs of the situation they’ve recently found themselves in. But as for some possible whispers about a few Australian DJ Coolof shows in the works for later in the year, he shrugs of the possibility with a cheeky ‘not going to tell’ laugh. So be sure to keep your eyes to ITM for any further advancements on this front and remember, you heard it here first!
Silent Shout is out now through Hussle/EMI. The Knife were recently the feature artist on inthemix Podcast Session08, click HERE to download it for yourself.