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Isolated Youth Interview

Straight out of Stockholm, Isolated Youth is quickly carving out a space for themselves in the music scene with their distinctive post-punk vibes. Their live performances are something to experience at least once in your life, drawing you into an almost eerie atmosphere that’s hard to shake off. And now, they’re gearing up for the release of their debut album, ‘Miserere Mei,’ dropping on June 7th. Produced by Faris Badwan and Max Hayes, this album promises to be a raw, emotional journey through their sonic universe. With catchy tunes and heartfelt lyrics, Isolated Youth invites you to dive into their world and feel every beat.

Can you please share your origin story as a band?

"We’re from a small coastal city just outside of Stockholm, Sweden—Norrtälje. My brother Axel and I started spontaneously writing songs together. Then, our childhood friend Theodora and my close friend Andreas joined us. None of us had been in a band before, but it quickly became something we enjoyed and felt was important to us. I had bought a guitar with all my money on a whim before we decided to become a band, and well, we had to become a rock band because otherwise, why did I buy that guitar?"

Can you share how you developed the unique blend of sounds on your debut album 'Miserere Mei'? What was key to achieving the balance between innovation and traditional influences?

"We all come from different musical backgrounds, and there’s no simple way to put this—sometimes a sound or an artist just impacts you in a special way, like Nina Simone or Joy Division, or even like early Iceage. This can be thematically, emotionally, or in the way you play, and eventually, all these elements blend into your own unique sound within your songs (if you're lucky)."

You are about to release your debut album. The title 'Miserere Mei' hints at historical influences. Could you elaborate on how these elements are woven into your music’s narrative?

"Yes, 'Miserere Mei' or 'Lord have mercy on me' has been a theme for a long time but still resonates in most people’s lives. It’s like the protagonist finds themselves within a framework that can be seen in biblical works like Psalm 51, Nina Simone’s 'Sinnerman,' or just the feeling of regret in a taxi coming home late from a party. It’s an ongoing story of finding one's own skin and home, which keeps on evolving."

What impact did working with established figures like Faris Badwan and Max Hayes have on your album? How did their involvement shape the sound?

"They’re quite good at what they do, for starters, ha ha. But seriously, it’s great to bring ideas to life and have people around who suddenly do great things in the studio. They also bring knowledge about things you might not know, common mistakes, and insights into the process, which made the project much more interesting and worthwhile."

Picture of Isolated Youth at The Victoria on one of our events, taken by our in-house photographer, March 29th 2024

Your shows are known for their captivating presence. How do you prepare to bring this intensity to different types of venues?

"I guess it’s different for each member, but nowadays, there isn’t much preparation; it’s more about enjoying the moment and sharing it with others. While we do prepare aesthetically for the show and organize the set to make it interesting, on the day, it’s all about letting go."

What do you hope fans experience or feel when they listen to your album and see you perform live?

"Above all, I want them to be in the moment. The rest is hard to say."

As you continue to evolve as a band, what directions or themes are you most interested in exploring in your future projects?

"I think we’ve only really scratched the surface of how we want our songs to sound, but also how we approach craftsmanship can be expanded. We’re looking to find new ways to quickly reach the points we want in a song, and we all want to push the rock formula forward while keeping it 'direct'."

Looking back at your journey so far, what have been the most significant challenges and rewards for you as part of Isolated Youth?

"There have been quite a few rainy days, honestly—nothing I saw coming once we got going. But there’s always a reward in being able to make music and having live concerts in your life. We’ve grown up together and lived closely; a lot can happen in our lives, but having shared time together and all these nights wherever they may have been—it has definitely been worth it. It’s just nice to have some friends who are not only your friends but also exist within this imaginative music sphere with you."

Your music seamlessly incorporates genre-transcending influences. Which artists or genres have had the most significant impact on your sound, and how do they manifest in your music?

"It’s hard to say who had the most impact, but let’s mention a few: Arvo Pärt, Nina Simone, Future, Radiohead, Joy Division, Birthday Party, Iceage. However, the actual impact must be The Horrors and Faris Badwan. He picked us up from our small coastal city in Sweden and we’ve worked closely for a few years. He is a great friend and a very rewarding musician to work with. I will also mention Max Hayes, who also produced this album, who has worked on projects like Screamadelica; just seeing him work in the studio is a pleasure. He is also quite funny, in contrast to us, who are miserable Scandinavians..."

Picture of Isolated Youth at The Victoria on one of our events, taken by our in-house photographer, March 29th 2024

How has your relationship with your fans influenced your music-making process? Are there specific ways you engage with your audience that have shaped your creative decisions?

"Everyone always says, 'you gotta make it for yourself,' and I get that because it starts there, but engaging with the audience during live shows is a big reason for making rock songs. Or at least touring. So I guess they keep it interesting; otherwise, why go through the hassle?"

Your lyrics create a profound connection with listeners. Can you discuss your approach to writing lyrics and how you convey complex emotions through your songs?

"There are many ways to answer this, but the honest answer is 'I don’t know'. I’ve written quite a lot of lyrics in 'notes' on my phone while stumbling home from a bar or in a cab at night. A cab at night is a great setting for writing. Then there’s also the part of making things work in a studio. As for emotions, I think you discover these things within the song, and they surprise you rather than you deciding beforehand 'Oh, today I want to write a song with this mood'. Axel and I and also the band as a whole tend to understand each other very well in this process, and we just see where it takes us."

What were some of the most significant challenges you faced during the production of 'Miserere Mei'? How did you overcome them?

"Well, health issues, pandemic, traveling, trauma—ha ha. I don’t know how we did this, but I guess the alternative would be worse. Also, things are in the light you choose to portray them, and I’d like to think of it as a rather happy thing, all in all."

Can you share a particularly memorable moment from your journey in creating this album or during a performance?

"Our studio time was memorable, out in Willesden Junction next to a huge Catholic cemetery filled with foxes and ravens and with construction workers outside on the yard. Nearby was an off-license selling the strongest possible Swedish snus that not even Elmer, our Nordic bass player, could stand. Who buys those? It was a very nice space, and going there every day was special for many reasons. Another quite fun moment was when we were rehearsing before recording in Homerton. It started to feel really good; it was super loud, and then I wondered, 'Who’s playing this amazing in-key synthesizer, where is it?' Andreas heard it too, and we looked around for a synth while continuing the song, only to realize that the fire alarm had gone off but no one noticed because it was so loud."

Are there any more stories or inspirations behind the tracks on 'Miserere Mei' that you could share?

"I tattooed the phrase on my arm before recording the album, so if it had gone badly, that would have been a pretty shit tattoo. Maybe it is interesting that I also painted the album cover. There could be a lot of stories, but maybe someone else can tell them better than me."

From your perspective as a performer, what elements make a venue or event stand out as exceptional? How do these aspects enhance your connection with the audience during a live performance?

"I always like a good rectangle with a flat floor, like SO36 in Berlin; it just makes for the best atmosphere, almost like a ballroom. I think a lot is hidden within the care of the aesthetics, like making the night special in every way possible, from people dressing up to the venue doing their thing for each night, and the artists being in the moment. If it becomes an 'everyday thing' or mundane, sometimes I wonder—why do the show?"

By the REAL Editorial Team | May 15, 2024


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