An Interview with Fever Ray

Fever Ray, photo by Jesper Frisk

photo by Jesper Frisk

When we climbed up the stairs to the first floor of the Berghain the show had already started. Over the heads of the crowd I could see a cloud of smoke coming closer. Antique lamp shades were blinking in the background and gave a harsh contrast to the industrial concrete cathedral. Laser beams shot from the stage and were reflected on several mirrors behind us. Silhouettes of strange inhuman figures slowly moved in the smoke to the hypnotic music of Fever Ray. In the center of the stage a horned creature with glowing fingers sings in a skewed voice. It’s Karin Dreijer – one half of The Knife and guest vocalist of Royksopp – in her creepy stage costume, the center piece of the show.

Nothing of that appearance reminded me of the blonde beautiful woman I had met earlier that day in an office at the top floor of the building. When we talked about the tour she already hinted that this will be more than just a concert – it will be a show that will stimulate all your senses. And she did not exaggerate. Read on for the interview and more live photos after the jump.

Fever Ray, photo Tim Timmermans

photo by Tim Timmermans

Have you been to Berlin before?

My brother has been living in Berlin for three years now and we’re working quite a lot here.

What do you think about the city?

I like Berlin. I’m mostly down in Kreuzberg when I’m here. It’s very nice and quiet. Good vegetarian food. When you are a vegetarian all those Vietnamese and Thai places here are just fantastic. I like it.

Did you ever go to Berghain when you were here?

No, I didn’t, but many of my friends go here. Since we work so much with visuals and scenography it’s very important to us what kind of venue we’re in. I think it really affects the show. This kind of place is very good for our show so I’m happy to be here.

Fever Ray, photo by Niklas Montonen

photo by Niklas Montonen

Are you looking forward to play at the Melt! Festival?

Yes. Many people say it’s the best German festival.

Tell us a little something about the show. What can we expect?

We’re five people on stage playing a lot of instruments. I’ve been working with Andreas Nilsson who has done the If I Had A Heart video. He has done all the scenery, set and stage design, costumes and masks and lights and lasers. There will be everything. It’s interesting to work with all senses so we started to incorporate smell using incense.

You mentioned that visuals are very important for the show…

Yes. The visualisation of music is quite interesting. At one stage it’s very important that you’re alone with your own visual ideas about music like just having a CD and listen to it. You have the possibility to get your own imagery in your head. But at the live show I think it’s very interesting for us to see what happens to the music when we put images around it. And things do happen. And when you do certain things it affects the music in certain ways and when you change it a little bit something else happens. So I think it’s quite intriguing to see how different you can experience the music.

Is the music going to sound like what the album sounds like or is it going to stand on its own?

It’s a lot of feeling from the album. The base is still electronic but it sounds like much more.

Fever Ray, photo by Niklas Montonen

photo by Niklas Montonen

In what situations do you think will people listen to your album?

I haven’t got a clue, I don’t think so much about that. Hopefully in any situation. It’s nice if music can be a place for ideas and something else going on than just reality.

Your music seems to be from a different world – a different kind of place. Do you think it could be associated with a specific place?

Not a physical place. It’s more about mental areas and it’s more in an idea world.

In your video to When I Grow Up there seem to be some magical powers going on. Do you like these fantastical elements?

I like Science Fiction and a bit Fantasy. But I think it’s nice when it’s more dynamic and it has certain links to reality as well. When you work with music and film and art it’s the only time you have the possibilities to work with these kind of ideas and that’s something you have to take care of as well. That’s how you develop things in real live. Otherwise nothing happens in real live.

While we are on the subject of Fantasy, would you like to have a super power yourself?

I wouldn’t want any super powers in real life, no. I think I have so many already. I can sing – that’s good. And I can tour.

Fever Ray, photo by Jesper Frisk

photo by Jesper Frisk

You worked with several different producers on the Fever Ray album. But your brother and The Knife partner Olof Dreijer was not involved?

No. We needed a break from each other. We have been working for a year now with an Opera about Charles Darwin which is soon finished and will have premiere in Copenhagen on September 2 at Royal Theatre which is a Danish Theatre company that commissioned music from us.

We are friends. But we have been working for seven years and Olof was very young when we started. I think both of us really needed to find out what we want to do for ourselves. But we have been talking about starting a new Knife album after this year.

What does the future of Fever Ray look like?

That’s very hard to say where it will end or how. It’s very fun to do this. This is the album that I have made and if I was going to make a second album it will be something completely different. It’s possible that it will even be with a different name then.

Thank you very much for your time!

Fever Ray, photo by Tim Timmermans

photo by Tim Timmermans

The show ended as it had started, with Karin Dreijer in her creature costume, glowing fingers up in the air and almost touching the laser beams above her. I did not want the show to end so soon. When the music faded out I noticed that I had goosebumps for almost the entire show. For days I listened to the record trying to recreate that feeling. But while my iPod earbuds can’t really compete with the massive sound system of the Berghain, my imagination will do the trick and take me to this other place.

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<a href="" target="_self">Frank</a>



Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of iHeartBerlin. He takes photos, makes videos, and writes texts mostly about what's going on in Berlin. His vision and interests have shaped iHeartBerlin since its conception back in 2007 - and he hopes to continue bringing you the best of Berlin for many years to come.