Interview with Galantis
Original interview by Benjamin Bertram for SID Magazine Fall/Winter 2017 issue
Swedish electronic DJ and producer duo, Galantis, are a unique combination; their work recognised by the electro-pop loving masses yet to most, they’re not a household name.
It’s easy to dismiss mainstream pop and it’s inextricable link with electronic music as manufactured, void of meaning; essentially soulless. In reality the creative significance of electronic pop and its influence on modern pop culture is profound - imagine a world without Britney Spears Toxic? Or if the originally intended artist, Kylie Minogue, had recorded it?
Linus Eklöw, also known as one half of Galantis, co-wrote Toxic and has produced for several other high-profile artists including Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez and the one and only Madonna - although to him the real Queen of Pop is Yoko Ono.
He started DJ-ing at 16, playing four-hour sets to live adult audiences “it was a really good learning experience, I had to be creative in order to make it interesting both for me and the crowd. The skills I learned back then are definitely still part of the tools that I use to this day”.
This ambition was influenced growing-up surrounded by jazz music, which transpired into experimentation with electronic sounds organically “I didn’t really reflect on the genres or their differences, to me both had countless possibilities”.
As a creative duo both Linus and Christian Karlsson have learnt how to develop music from a studio setting to mainstream listeners daily-lives, diffusing into the creative process their own experiences, including live-performances and encounters with fans, “We make music every day and our environment definitely influences our creative process, even in ways we aren’t aware of”.
Performing live both have described as like a drug but also as a crucial component for developing what they produce, “Our sets are always evolving, we could tinker forever and never be done. We try and bring as much of our studio onto the road as possible as we want to be able to be creative onstage, bringing that natural flow we have in the studio; the feeling of being in the moment”.
Working with legendary pop icons is an altogether different experience “Producing for other people puts you in a box. You’re limited in how far you can experiment and treat the vocal because that is the artist’s voice and you have to respect it. It’s a very different process because it’s not your song. It’s like finding a suit in a thrift store and getting it altered, it still has the structure of the original but with a new fit. When we produce for ourselves, the possibilities of what we can do are limitless”.
With their first album Pharmacy the pair were able to create in a controlled, comfortable environment with no back-catalogue to compare against and all the time in the world. When the time came to start working on their second album The Aviary the situation was entirely different, “We had to get used to writing in transit on our laptops, even writing on our phones, recording melodies in voice memos. This brought loads of new flavours and resulted in a much more diverse album. Sometimes when you’re cornered and challenged, when you’re not in a safe environment something new creatively comes out of that. It’s good to be challenged and not have every tool in front of you. You are forced to work with what you have and focus on what is important - the melody. What did stay consistent is our approach to writing, we still started with the melody and the lyrics and dressed it up in dance clothes later.”
This creative viewpoint, evident in every aspect of their work, combined with the enjoyment and dedication to the process is perhaps what makes Galantis and what they produce so relatable and influential to mainstream audiences. The personal reflection poured into their music and their choice to present their perceptions creatively, rather than literally, results in production that’s a far cry from anything which could be described as void of meaning or essentially soulless. Their work involves, skill, passion, dedication and constant self-analysis, tributes not found in with the realms of manufactured pop…
Photography: Christopher Lane / Styling: Sylvester Yiu