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The Sweetness of Air France

An interview and a rare track from these Swedish purveyors of euphoric sounds.

If you’re looking for some respite from this cold dreary winter, let the heady, Balearic-inspired beats of Air France transport you to some tropical island somewhere far away from here. Come the summer, we’ll be hearing their blissful melodies wafting along parks and beaches across the land. Warm horns, ethereal samples and lush strings all combine to produce electronic music that wears a real beating heart on its sleeve. Despite the serotonin rush of their music, there’s a melancholic tinge to it, as if to say, “You’ll never have it this good again”. At least till you flip the record and press play all over again.

Air France are high school friends, Joel Karlsson and Henrik Markstedt, who met over a shared love of pop music and Socialist ideals.  In addition to lending their remix magic to Taken By Trees and Friendly Fires, March sees the UK release of their majestic “On Trade Winds” and “No Way Down” EP’s (previously only available on import from Sweden) in one deluxe package that provides a handy soundtrack to a party that’s only just starting.  Dazed Digital spoke to Air France, who have also provided a rare remix of Au Revoir Simone’s “Sad Song” for Dazed Digital listeners which can be streamed below.

Dazed Digital: Describe your sound.
Air France: Like the first warm spring day you take the kite out for a spin.

DD: The music has a very nostalgic feel to it. What are some of your favourite memories?
AF: Yeah, you're probably right. I think, deep down, we long to live in a world less complicated and more romantic. After the dilly-dally years of high school, we kind of shut the door on reality and decided to build our own world up around us. It's a hard structure to maintain, but in the moments you're at peace with everything around you, it's a feeling like no other. That's kind of what we're after, in making music. An embellished version of life.

DD: What's the perfect place to listen to your music?
AF: Oh I dunno. Maybe a dozing little isle off the west coast of France, with spring gently sweeping the greens back over the hills. Maybe high summer in Gothenburg, hand in hand with the one you love, lazily cooling in the sunset as the quivering heat slowly withdraws. Maybe a little drunk at a polo match in Oxfordshire, or in a car driving far, far away, never stopping. Anywhere really. If the music takes you somewhere, we're happy.
DD: The music induces a high in the listener. Were any drugs taken in the making of this record?
AF:  We're actually quite healthy living. We eat right, exercise, swim, play soccer. But of course there's a decadent side too, that takes over when steam has been building up for too long. Luckily, there's not much dope in Gothenburg, apart from the odd spliff now and then. At least not around us. So we take to drink instead. Vodka straight or French cider is popular in the studio. Have you tried Poire Christian Drouin? It's a really fresh, cool cider from Calvados Coeur de Lion. When we made No Way Down, we used to drink a mixture of red wine and coke, to keep the alcohol level down a bit. It's a drink called "Yesterdays" here. We sipped that and listened to the birds chirp outside the studio in-between takes.

DD: You are on the Sincerely Yours label and are friends with The Tough Alliance who are informed by strong political ideologies. How do you make a stand for what you believe in nowadays?
AF: A difficult question, that. The thing about politics is, it's so vague. We really feel that every action and every decsicion is politics. You take a stand every day. But in a more concrete sense, we try to put what little dents we can into the big scheme of things. See, we tend to use music as an escape away from everything around us, and when it gets too hypothetical, too dreamy, we try to do something real as well. Boycotting animal products, joining anti war protests, posting flyers over town. Stuff like that.

DD: What's the sincerest thing you've ever done?
AF: Henrik proposed to his girl on a tram cart in Lissabon last year. She couldn't hear him over the noice of the traffic. He didn't ask again, the moment was lost.

DD: Why do you think there is such a buzz about Swedish music at the moment?
AF: That's what we'd like to know. There was great music coming out of Scandinavia ten years ago too, but no one cared then. It's mostly a media construction, I think. Like blogs devoted solely to Swedish music. People are searching for connections that aren't really there. But that's fine with us. If there's a reason as to why there's a lot of great Swedish music coming now, it might be because the domineering popular culture in Sweden is governed by a few conservative TV channels that produce shit for morons. It's TV for the bourgeoisie. Every weekend, it's just Dancing with the Stars, the Eurovision Song Contest and Clash of the Choirs. That's about it. I think some of the Swedish artists that are currently making names for themselves around the world are a reaction against that kind of mind-numbing entertainment. Most get caught in the spectacle though, playing along, smiling, feeding the cultural void. The news bills aren't even about news anymore. It's just about who cried hardest after facing the fucking Idol jury.
DD: What myth would you like to see debunked about Swedish people?
AF: It's a complex issue, but to keep things simple, it may be true that Swedes are a suffering people, but the many months of cold and darkness have made us, maybe more so than others, cherish those warm summer evenings and every speck of light. As soon as the clouds disperse the parks and seaside cliffs overflow with sunbathers. You have no choice but to live the better part of life in the present, and the rest waiting for the first blossoming coltsfoot of the year.

DD: What are your plans for 2009?
AF: What follows next is a little DJ tour in the East. We're visiting Stockholm, Warsaw, St Petersburg and Moscow in February and March. Then it's back to the drawing board, digging closer to beauty and blablabla. I want to get a dog, too.

DD: And finally, what is 'socialist rooftop music'?
AF: That is a product of a rare, but poignant acid- induced moment. The exact meaning escapes me, but it's like when you're on a roof and in love with everyone there and you can see the music sweeping across town like a huge liberating blanket of color and mist.
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