Your names being Oscar and Magnus, how did the name Koop come into the equation?
It’s a common word in Swedish. It stands for co-operation, which is significant for Swedish way of life. We like to do things together, instead of being individualistic.
How did Koop actually form, had you both previously known each other?
Oscar – We are both from Uppsala a bit north of Stockholm. We got to know each other through friends in music. We where drawn to each other in some kind of opposite attract. We both felt we could make something good together. It was about energy. We decided to make a song together using samples but we had no equipment. I had a friend who studied at music school and in their basement they had a small studio with a computer and a sampler. On Friday evenings when the teachers had left for the weekend our friend secretly let us in to the basement. We carefully covered the windows so that no one could see we where there.
Where do your influences come from?
Oscar – Cheap odd and strange vinyl records we find in bargain stores. We like all sorts of different music but I would not call it influences. Koop has been a struggle to be different, and trying to dig our own hole. These days we have forgotten how the unspoken rules, of how our music should be, came there in the first place.
What would you say makes your music so appealing to listeners?
Oscar – The melody, the lyrics and the voice. There is nothing stronger than these 3 things if you want to touch people.
Your image is very unique with the dresses and make up, what was the reasoning behind that?
Oscar – It’s fun. And we don’t like the usual band-poses-trying-to-look-good photos.
I heard that you sample old records to produce your music, why is that?
Oscar – We are only a duo. Instead of hiring an orchestra to perform our songs it’s much easier (and cheaper) to sample something we find in a bargain store. But most of all it’s about control. We like to be alone in the studio and craft as much as possible from our own hands.
Surely it would be much easier and less time consuming to start from scratch and produce original sounds? Would you ever consider doing that, or do you feel the samples are what make you different?
Oscar – Yes, no one has produced what we do using that amount of samples. People usually don’t believe its electronic music because it sounds alive. Sampled music used to be much more monotone, like hip-hop for example.
What’s the process that you both go through when it comes to deciding who to pick to vocal your songs or do you make instrumentals with particular artists in mind?
Oscar – We always make the song first. Then we decide if it’s for a female or a male. Then if it’s for a dark voice or a light voice. We seldom argue about this. When working on a song and lyrics for 6 months it’s very clear what kind of character it’s about.
Your music contains Blues and Jazz elements, some would say those genres of music aren’t as popular today as they use to be. Do you feel it’s our duty to keep the music genres of past generations alive?
I think music history is dissolving. Everything is available on the internet, and 15 year olds listen to 50 years old music not even knowing that it was once called jazz. This is very exciting and will change the rules for pop music. Music should make people come together, and Koop is very proud to have listeners in all ages and social contexts.
How would you describe your music?
It’s classic song writing, but instead of recording we try to build our songs with tiny samples and sounds from all sorts of records. This allows us to travel in time and space. We are also using different singers on each track, and all this makes us able to express different emotions. But the core of our music is the melodies and the lyrics. Everything else is there to support those. Since we pick our samples from mostly old jazz records a shallow description would be to call it jazz, but actually its pop songs made in a computer.
You won a Swedish Grammy Award in 2003, what was that like?
Getting this kind of achievement in our home country was a big honour. The same year we won a prize on the “Alternative Grammy” awards as well. This award was founded to revolt against the big major record companies who run the Grammy awards. So that year we had both the Grammy and the alternative Grammy. This reflects Koop I think. But I would rather have a prize for our latest album “Koop Island” because it’s better than our previous.
Do you feel that Swedish music has a different feel from American or British music?
Swedish music can be so different but if you mean internationally recognized Swedish music, is very often smart, edgy, pop music that upper middleclass educated people like to namedrop for a couple of months. Then they forget.
But I think Swedes are good at writing catchy melodies that are both happy and sad at the same time. And we are good at absorbing different styles from all parts of the world. Just like ABBA.
Your track ‘Koop Island Blues’ was recently used for ‘The Butt’ dance by Emmy Award winning choreographer Mia Michaels for the television programme ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ What did you think of it?
Oscar – It’s not really reflecting the song. Koop Island Blues is about lost love, and the choreography seemed to be about sexual frustration more than anything else.
But it was a cool, and very well executed.
What projects have you got lined up?
Oscar – We have had only one project for the last 12 years, and that is to write Koop music. We are currently working on album number 4.
Neelam Atique – August ’09