Arts & Entertainment
3 min

How Swede it is

The Sounds' out lead singer Maja Ivarsson

NO GOING BACK. The Sounds changed labels while making Crossing the Rubicon.

It’s only been a few years since Dying to Say This to You, the second North American album by Swedish new-wave phenomena The Sounds was released, but it probably seems like a lifetime to the band’s devoted fan base. But patience is rewarded with Crossing the Rubicon (from Original Signal Recordings), a 12-song, dance-friendly disc (including the hidden track) that fulfills and expands on the band’s promise. Out lead singer Maja Ivarsson sounds as though she’s determined to have us up on our feet and moving, and songs such as “Beatbox,” “4 Songs and a Fight,” “My Lover,” “Dorchester Hotel” and “Lost in Love” are certainly motivation enough.

GREGG SHAPIRO: The new album is titled Crossing the Rubicon and there’s a song on the disc that shares its name. Crossing the Rubicon involves taking a decisive, irrevocable step, and you even make reference to crossing the river (the Rubicon, if you will) on “Home Is Where Your Heart Is.”

MAJA IVARSSON: It means something to us because, this record, we had to pay everything ourselves. We dropped the label that we had in the US. We dropped pretty much everyone that we had around us business-wise. It’s so heartbreaking sometime when the band is working so hard and we’ve been doing it for so many years now and you can tell that not everyone else around you is working as hard. And it’s so tough and it’s frustrating as hell.

For us it was really important to drop everything and to start from the beginning again and just put everything that we had into this record. And if it fails, we don’t have anybody else to blame. But if it goes well, nobody else can take the credit for it either.

But now we have this amazing label called Original Signals Recordings. It’s a small label and they’re very passionate about music and they’re in it for the right reasons and they gave us a really good deal and we thought this is the way to go. I don’t believe in the major record labels anymore. So for us it was a big step and that’s why the title is so perfect for this record.

SHAPIRO: “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake,” the disc opener and first single, makes a powerful statement. Are you the kind of person who remembers her dreams?

IVARSSON: Absolutely. All the time.

SHAPIRO: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

IVARSSON: I think it’s a very good thing. But sometimes when you wake up you can still be exhausted even though you’ve slept for eight hours because you’re in your dreams, this and that happens, and you’re like, “Man, I’m so fucking tired.” You’re going through a lifetime in your dreams as well. But in this song I think it’s more about the dreams we had when we were younger. About becoming a great band and touring the world and doing what you really wanted to do in life. That’s what we’re doing right now.

SHAPIRO: There is a beautiful hidden instrumental track. How did that come about?

IVARSSON: I remember that as a kid, Nirvana’s Nevermind had a hidden track. And you loved stuff like that as a teenager, it was like Christmas. Mostly we focused on how every track should be a single, but on this album we tried to make it a complete album. From beginning to end you should listen to it as a journey. It’s going against the times, because I think nowadays everyone is downloading songs not albums anymore. I guess we’re doing things backward and it’s fine.

SHAPIRO: I’m glad that you mentioned the journey, because the album closes with the song “Home Is Where Your Heart Is.” Where is your heart right now?

IVARSSON: My heart is where I am at the moment. I think that’s what the song is about. I love that song, personally it’s one of my favourites.

SHAPIRO: If someone wanted to use a song by The Sounds at a same-sex wedding, which song would you recommend?

IVARSSON: Ooh, good question, man! I love the track “Underground.” That’s a beautiful song. Maybe I would have to write a special one for those occasions. I would love to do that, but I need to figure something cool out. But otherwise I think “Underground” is a great song and I love that, it’s very nostalgic and I think it’s a great song. It’s a beautiful one.