First Aid Kit Biography
Sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg are from Enskede, a suburb of Stockholm. Johanna was born on October 31, 1990 and Klara on January 8, 1993. Their father was a member of the Swedish rock pop band Lolita Pop(3:20-4:03) but he quit before Johanna was born and later became a teacher of history and religion. Their mother is a teacher of cinematography.
From childhood Klara and Johanna were eager singers giving concerts using a jump rope as a pretend microphone.(0:40-2:40) Klara's first favorite songs were Judy Garland's songs from The Wizard of Oz and the Billie Holiday's version of Gloomy Sunday, that she sang without much understanding the English lyrics. Klara wrote her first song "Femton mil i min Barbiebil" when she was six.
They both attended the International English school of Enskede. Klara applied for admission to a music school but she was not accepted.
In 2005 when Klara was 12, a friend introduced her to the band Bright Eyes. This led her to country music stars such as the Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Carter family, Louvin Brothers, Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. The same year she received a guitar of her own as a Christmas present and quickly learned to play it.
Johanna enjoyed a wide range of music from Britney Spears to German Techno. However, it wasn't until watching the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? and listening to the film's soundtrack that she was inspired to sing "Down to the River to Pray" with her sister, Klara. Fascinated by the result they started to sing together first at home and then as street singers, for example in Stockholm metro and in front of liquor stores.(16:10-17:55)(2:55-4:35) They also started to compose their own country-folk songs together. They came up with the name for their band simply by randomly opening a dictionary.
Klara and Johanna made songs inspired by Devendra Banhart and CocoRosie, among others, by themselves without much influence from their parents who were more fond of Patti Smith, Velvet Underground and Pixies. Their father confessed later in a Swedish radio program that he was astonished and actually a little jealous of the ease his daughters have in producing top-notch music.(8:20-8:55) The most important advice their father gave to them was to sing so loud that even somebody behind the wall could hear it.
In April 2007 the sisters started to upload their self-made songs to the social networking site MySpace. They also sent demo of their song "Tangerine" to the Swedish radio. It immediately went on air and was listed as one of the best songs of the summer 2007, which led to requests for live performances and even some offers from record companies. The first official performance as First Aid Kit was at PUNKTmedis library in Stockholm. More gigs followed but as Klara, who was then 14, was still at school, they could play only during weekends.
Meanwhile, their younger brother attended the same kindergarten as the daughter of Karin Dreijer Andersson, half of Swedish electronic duo The Knife and also known as Fever Ray. Their mother asked Dreijer to check out her daughters' songs on MySpace. After doing so, and seeing them play live, Dreijer said that the duo had to be saved from bad deals with the industry, and proposed to sign them to Rabid Records, a label co-owned by The Knife with conditions that allowed the duo to have full control over their music and album art.
April 2008 saw the release of the debut EP Drunken Trees in Sweden. The EP was produced by their father and was a re-recorded collection of songs from their MySpace site originally called "Cross Oceans". Their first appearance in Swedish TV was also that month.
The duo was already quite well known in Sweden by August 2008, when they uploaded a cover version of "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" by Fleet Foxes to YouTube. Robin Pecknold, frontman and lead guitarist for Fleet Foxes, noticed the duo's message about the video and praised the song on his band's webpage with multiple exclamation marks, causing a surge of popularity of the video.(32:40-34:30) It led to First Aid Kit becoming internationally known, and them signing with Wichita Records at the end of 2008.
Due to international touring, Johanna quit high school in the autumn of 2008 and Klara never started it. Their father took a leave from his job as a teacher and accompanied them on tour, also helping with soundchecks. First Aid Kit's first show outside Scandinavia was on November 22, 2008 at Crossing Border Festival in Netherlands. Fleet Foxes performed day before, and when Pecknold spotted the duo standing at the edge of the stage they were unexpectedly asked to join to sing "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song".(34:30-35:10)(6:15-7:35)
Wichita re-released Drunken Trees on February 23, 2009 as an enhanced EP with "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" added as a bonus track along with some videos.
The duo released their first album, The Big Black & The Blue on February 1st, 2010. It was again produced by their father. The release was followed by an extensive tour (around 100 shows) in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe, including Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona.
After performance in Austin Texas on October 7, 2010 the duo was approached by Conor Oberst who had got a demo of First Aid Kit's coming album when the duo had met him after Monsters of Folk's concert on November 19th, 2009 in Stockholm. He had been impressed especially by their acoustic performance of Ghost Town. The same evening Oberst called Mike Mogis and asked him to see the duo's second performance in Austin next day. After doing so Mogis wanted to produce the duo's next album.(29:20-31:20)
A couple of days later on October 11, 2010, after playing a concert in Nashville, the duo got a telephone call from Jack White, who asked the duo to visit his studio next day. The result was a cover version single containing Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier" and Mel London's and Tampa Red's "It Hurts Me Too" that was released on White's Third Man Records label.(35:30-36:55)
On February 16, 2011 the duo collaborated with Bright Eyes during their performance of "Lua" in Stockholm, Sweden.
First Aid Kit performed first time at the Polar Music Prize gala on August 30, 2011 in Stockholm where they performed the song "Dancing Barefoot" for the winner Patti Smith. She was moved to tears at the intense ending of the song.(4:03-6:40) The official YouTube video of the TV broadcast has become world famous and
watched almost half million times.
In January 2012, the band released their second album, The Lion's Roar, produced by Mike Mogis. The album was critically acclaimed upon release and debuted at number one in Sweden and number 35 in the UK. In support of the album, the band performed the song "Emmylou" on Conan April 2012. In August of that same year, the band performed at the Lollapalooza festival. They also performed at Bestival and the Berlin Festival in September before returning to the United States to play Austin City Limits Music Festival in October 2012.
In August 28, 2012 they performed "America" for the Polar Music Prize winner Paul Simon. The performance ended with Paul Simon giving them standing ovation.
The song "The Lion's Roar" was featured in episode 2 of series 4 of Misfits. In the Hearts of Men was featured in episode 21 of season 8 of Bones.
On November 2012 it was announced that First Aid Kit got "Composer of the year" and "Breakthrough of the Year" prizes from the Swedish Music Publishers Association.
The song Emmylou was chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as the #10 "Single of the Year" in 2012.
In January 2013 the band toured in Europe with Conor Oberst. The duo was singing backing vocals during the set of Oberst and he was singing with the girls in some songs of their set.
In February 2013 First Aid Kit was awarded the Nordic Music Prize for "Best Nordic 2012 Album".They were also awarded four Swedish Grammis awards for 2012 "Artist of the Year", "Songwriter of the Year", "Best Pop of the Year" and "Album of the Year".
In 2013 they finally made a studio in the cellar of their parent's house. Before that the "Cellar door" mentioned in their albums was actually Johanna's room in the attic. Demos of the Stay Gold album were recorded in the new studio.(53:30)
In June 2013 they performed at Glastonbury festival in the Pyramid stage. In October the band performed Emmylou on The Late Show with David Letterman. This was their second appearance on the show, as they had backed Lykke Li there in November 2011. The same month, the sisters opened for Rodriguez at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Altogether in 2013 they performed about 30 concerts and appeared at 10 different festivals.
Conor Oberst said in a 2014 interview that he is finishing work on a solo record, with First Aid Kit singing harmonies throughout the LP. The album, titled Upside Down Mountain, was released on 20 May 2014. The duo sings on six tracks of the record.
Following the announcement of their third studio album Stay Gold, that was released on 10 June 2014 through Columbia Records, the band released their first new single "My Silver Lining" on 31 March. On May 6 another song, "Cedar Lane", was released. Both were released only as digital files accompanied with videos in YouTube.
First Aid Kit's eighth US and Canada tour, of which some of the concerts were already sold out in the beginning of March, started in May 2014.
On June 12 they performed again on The Late Show with David Letterman, this time singing "My Silver Lining".
During summer 2014 they toured having several concerts and festivals in Europe, Japan and Australia. On August 9 when they and Conor Oberst were both at Haldern Pop Festival in Germany, the duo was also singing backing vocals on five songs of the Conor Oberst's set.
On July 10 Billboard listed "My Silver Lining" as one of the ten best songs of 2014 (so far) in their Mid-Year Music 2014 list.
On July 29 Jenny Lewis released her album The Voyager where Johanna and Klara make a contribution to the title track.
In August Hard Knocks featured "My Silver Lining" in episode 3 of the Atlanta Falcons' season.
At the end of August the duo received a gold record in Sweden for the Stay Gold album.
During autumn First Aid Kit had a tour in Europe supported by Jo Rose, performing for example in iTunes Festival on September 21 and in the Royal Albert Hall in London, UK on September 24, that latter of which was sold out already in mid August. In October 7 they were in the BBC's 6 Music Live show in Maida Vale Studios.
On September 23 they sung "My Silver Lining" in the Later... with Jools Holland show in the BBC Two channel. "Stay Gold" performed at the same occasion was broadcast on the Later show on September 26.
At the end of October it was announced that First Aid Kit's cover of the R.E.M.'s "Walk Unafraid" will be in the soundtrack of the Wild movie. Moreover, their song "Frozen Lake" is in the Swedish film Min Så Kallade Pappa.
First Aid Kit had a largely sold out tour again in the USA in October and November at such venues as New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom on October 24, The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on October 29, and The Wiltern in Los Angeles November 12. They were supported by Samantha Crain.
On November 7 it was announced that First Aid Kit had again got the "Composer of the year" prize from the Swedish Music Publishers Association.
On November 11 First Aid Kit performed "Stay Gold" on Conan
In November 24 American Songwriter listed Stay Gold as tenth in their 2014 top 50 album list. On December 1st Paste Magazine listed it as 9th in their top 50 album list and the song "My Silver Lining" as 19th in their top 50 song list. Rolling Stone magazine listed Master Pretender as 35th in their top 50 songs of 2014 list. BBC Radio 6 Music listed 'Stay Gold' album as 3rd in their 2014 album list.
On November 28 10" vinyl single "America" was released as one of the Black Friday record store day releases.
On December 5 an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show was aired where First Aid Kit sung "My Silver Lining". This performance was recorded on November 19 in Los Angeles.
The year ended with several concerts in Norway and Finland in December with Jo Rose as support. Both Helsinki concerts were sold out already in September.
In 2014 First Aid Kit had 74 concerts and performed in 18 Festivals. Klara and Johanna were accompanied on tours by drummer Niclas Lindström and pedal steel guitarist Melvin 'The Tiger' Duffy.
2015 started with an eleven concert UK tour in January ending at Hammersmith Apollo in London. They were supported by Kimberly Anne on this tour.
On January 15 a set of Swedish pop music related postage stamps were released in Sweden, one motif being First Aid Kit.
In January First Aid Kit was nominated for the 2015 Brit Awards in the Best International Group category as one of the five nominees. However, the award went to Foo Fighters in the gala on February 25.
On January 17 First Aid Kit won the "Best group of the year" prize in the Swedish Radio P3 Gold Gala.
On January 30 they performed "Master Pretender" on the BBC One's The Graham Norton Show
In February First Aid Kit had 12 concert tour in Sweden, again backed by Jo Rose.
On February 25 their album Stay Gold was granted the 2014 "Album of the Year" award at the Swedish Grammis 2015. They also sang "Master Pretender" in the gala, which was broadcast on Swedish TV.
In the beginning of March they had a short tour in Australia supported by Luluc.
They had about three months break from touring after Australia in order to start writing and composing new songs.(10:35-11:07)
On May 7 First Aid Kit again appeared on the The Late Show with David Letterman where they performed Simon and Garfunkel's hit "America" at Dave's request.
They performed on June 9 "Red Dirt Girl" and "Emmylou" for the Polar Music Prize winner Emmylou Harris in the gala at Stockholm, Sweden.
In June Renault Kadjar TV commercials were published with "My Silver Lining" as music. Shazam listed the commercial as number one in their June list in France.
First Aid Kit will perform during summer in several festivals, for example Isle of Wight Festival on 14th June and the 2015 Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY on 19th July.
After summer festivals they plan to have no bookings for the rest of the 2015 and, as the duo said in the BBC Radio 6's Radcliffe and Maconie interview, "we'll see what happens".(11:00)