We the Music: First Aid Kit

The hip-hop community seems to be releasing an endless array of songs commenting on today’s social and political issues. It has struck me that I have not seen as much politically charged music in the indie/folk scene. What has happened to this genre that used to be at the forefront of hippie culture or maybe a better question is who is making the music?

A New Yorker article describes the history and transition of the indie community becoming so white. Look back to the early days of folk and you’ll see how they took the call and response element straight from songs sung on the plantations by slaves. Then listen to the music of the 60’s and 70’s and you’ll hear the blues influence. There was a lot of borrowing between black and white musicians but it stopped according to the article sometime when hip-hop began to take over the charts. Indie rock became white and hip-hop black.

image

The reason for bringing this up is that indie/folk is my favorite genre but if you told me list to my top 10 even 20 artists from that genre they would all be white. It’s an important aspect of music to acknowledge even if you don’t want to.

First Aid Kit is comprised of two sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg who hail from Sweden. Why I picked to highlight them was because even though they fall in line with the majority of white artists in the indie/folk scene their latest song has a powerful political and social message. The duo’s song is focused on an issue that affects them and half the world’s population, women. 

It’s very easy for anyone to take the safe route and say nothing when an issue arises especially if it’s political. But it is important that those with a voice especially musicians speak out and I think First Aid Kit provides a perfect example of how to do that. 

“You Are the Problem Here” by First Aid Kit is a rock song done by folk group that is striking. If you’ve heard the Swedish duo before and listen to this new song, you’ll notice it is quite different. Departing from their normal harmonies that are delicate and beautiful, there is a raw anger that comes through the song. From the very beginning you know that you’re getting something different. Instead of the normal acoustic an electric guitar gives energy to the song.

The lyrics are simple, even repetitive but that’s the point. Sexual harassment and rape shouldn’t be so complicated. Consent is an easy concept, that’s why there is so much anger. The last line of the song captures the intense rage the sisters have for those who sexually harass women; “And I hope you fucking suffer”. There is no hidden message, no metaphor it’s raw which is what makes this song powerful.

While it is not my favorite track from the talented Swedes it’s one that is important. It’s a track from the indie community that says something. There are many more out there and hopefully many more to come.

Grace Madigan

Grrl Power Continues in Seattle at the Benefit for Skate Like a Girl ft. Kimya Dawson

On Saturday night, I set out to see Grammy winner and
creator of the best soundtrack of all time, Kimya Dawson at a benefit for local nonprofit, Skate Like a Girl. When I found out this event was happening, how
could I not go? Local bands, Kimya Dawson, and a cause for empowering young
women? Sign me up.

This was my first time at The Vera Project and my first time seeing a pop up skate park
outside the doors of a concert venue. Inside, the chill skate atmosphere
continued with the first opener, Fine
Prince
. Their sound was diverse and with six members, several instruments
and voices came together. They only have one EP out, but it’s a good
introduction to new, local music. Next up was the opener that left the biggest
impact on me, Acapulco Lips. This
band had the best stage presence of all. They have a beachy, vintage sound that
made me feel like I hadn’t just walked three blocks in the rain, but was in
sunny, Southern California. Definitely check them out when you can. 

image

The final
act before Kimya was a third Seattle band, Wimps.
They were the punkiest of the three and incited the first and last mosh pit of
the night. They had a good energy that made it easy to dance to as their songs
ranged from topics such as “being fruuuuuustrated”, “procrastination”, and “being
a caveman… maybe it’s a metaphor, maybe not”. 

Finally, Kimya was up. She
entered like the humble angel she is and sat down, just her and her guitar. She
invited everyone to sit down also, and because the majority of the crowd was
there for her, we did. And we stayed sitting the entire time as she talked and
sang to us like old friends about a variety of topics. She delved into why she
feels so betrayed
that Mariah Carey is opening for her celebrity crush, Lionel
Richie, as well as politics and trauma. Overall, it was an emotional,
extremely intimate set that I feel extremely lucky to have seen.

image

The benefit was an amazing experience, although one of the
most unique line ups I’ve ever witnessed. I didn’t expect to be nearly pulled
into the pit and sit cross-legged among the same crowd in one night, but it
happened. I highly recommend getting out there and supporting local music and
Skate Like a Girl if you can.

-Jessica Gloe

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!