Sweden-based El Perro Del Mar, known informally as Sarah Assbring, is set to release her third full-length album Love Is Not Pop (The Control Group) on October 20, 2009. Following the album release, El Perro Del Mar will be supporting Peter Bjorn and John on their North American tour in November as well as playing a couple of headlining shows of her own.
"Both dramatic and playful, the result sounds lovably gentle and impeccably crafted: Assbring conveys vulnerability and pain without histrionics. A sweetly simple, gorgeous song." - NPR Song Of The Day
"Mixing tears with sugary sound effects, she wallows with Scandinavian style." - New York Times
"Achingly genuine" - Pitchfork (from review of self-titled album, 8.1 rating)
El Perro Del Mar on Love Is Not Pop
Shortly after having finished touring with my second album From the Valley to the Stars I started writing new songs. For some reason all the songs were about love and in particular that of the doomed kind. Unconsciously I think I knew what I was trying to tell myself. I'd spent some bad times in New York and some good times in Paris and both these cities have made a great imprint on this album and my current outlook on love. I've decided to call it Love Is Not Pop - the songs on the album are all pop songs and they are all about love. But naturally, it is not all as simple as that. As much as pop can be love and vice versa - I'd like to believe that love goes so much deeper than a pop song. The title is of course also a play with words as well as a play with my persona up until this point. This album is also very much a way for me to look further into ways of writing and expressing myself - it definitely is a conscious step away from what I did on my last album. The mindset is darker and the soundscape mysteriously groovy thus it is not by chance I've chosen to work together with Rasmus Hägg, the other half of the acclaimed Swedish duo Studio, as a co-producer. His input and source of inspiration have been no other than a pure revelation to me. Working so closely together with someone has been a new experience for me and I feel excited about having come to the point where I've been wanting to let someone into the very much abstract and intimate process of song writing. I'm glad it was Rasmus I let in.
Interview by tosnob
Swedish indie pop singer El Perro Del Mar, aka Sarah Assbring, comes to Toronto to play a show at The Mod Club this Sunday with countrywoman Taken By Trees. I had the pleasure of speaking with Assbring about the upcoming show and her music.
Here's our conversation:
T.O. Snob: First off, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us. You're playing the Mod Club on Sunday. For those who haven't seen you perform live what can they expect?
SA: They can expect something emotional and groovy.
T.O. Snob: I was reading that Lou Reed served as a muse for your new album Love Is Not Pop. What was it about him and his work that inspired you?
SA: I've always been a fan of his work and of him but I think with this album because of what was going on in my life I was drawn to his lyrical work. I read lot of his lyrics and I think that is what inspired me the most. The way that he can always be in this dingy black world and always still have a hope of something better and something more beautiful within this dark world, especially when it comes to the hope of love.
T.O. Snob: Your cover of Reed's "Heavenly Arms" is absolutely gorgeous. Would you ever consider doing more of his songs?
SA: Yeah definitely. He's done so much great stuff and I'm a fan of a lot of it, especially because of his great lyrics. It's fun and very easy to do his work well. I have nothing planned at the moment but it might happen.
T.O. Snob: You can tell with some artists that they think lyrics or maybe vocals or the arrangement is the most important element of a song. What is the most important element of a song for you?
SA: There definitely has to be a melody there. There has to be something that catches your ear and makes you stick to it, something that makes you want to listen to the song as soon as it's over. You need that instant melody I think.
T.O. Snob: When you write a song is that where you start?
SA: I usually start with lyrics until I've done those. The perfect combination in the song should be a lyrics that bring the song and the heart together with the perfect melody. So I usually start with a phrase or sentence or some word that means a lot to me. Then the rest comes naturally.
T.O. Snob: It seems to me that we in North America get Scandinavian music in waves. In the ‘80s it was mainstream pop like Roxette or Ace of Base, in the ‘90s it was punk like Refused and Millencolin, now it's indie pop. Obviously that stuff is always going on in Sweden but is there more of an onus on that now, are more people doing it and is that why we hear it?
SA: I think the music climate these days is just more generous and more people can make music. There are a lot of people making great music in Sweden. I'm not sure why it reaches out, there's just something there that seems to be attractive to a lot of people. The music scene in Sweden is very good and inspiring.
T.O. Snob: I've always wondered why someone chooses to perform under a name like El Perro Del Mar instead of their real name. What went into your decision?
SA: First of all the name El Perro Del Mar is something I came up with that had a lot of meanings for me personally. Then when I decided to use it it was more of a chance to hold onto something that was creative instead of something that would be really crass or not very imaginary like my own name. So it's just a means to hold onto some kind of imaginary world or something existing outside reality, which to me music is a lot about.
T.O. Snob: I have one final quick question for you, will team Sweden successfully defend their Olympic hockey gold?
SA: Oh I am so the wrong person to ask. I have no idea. It would be fun if they did but I'll say no.
T.O. Snob: Good answer if you're going to play shows in Canada.
SA: (chuckles) Yes that's what I figured.
T.O. Snob: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me. Good luck with the show on Sunday.