After one listen through Urban Cone's second album Polaroid Memories, some of the emotions you will most likely experience are bliss, joy, and elation. Basically what we're trying to say is you will be extremely happy. That is the type of music Urban Cone makes, balancing electronic influences with the upbeat indie stylings you might expect from a pop influenced Swedish group.
That is on the surface, but below is a five-piece band that nearly broke up while making their second album. Expectations were high after their spectacular debut, and the pressure was on to come back stronger than ever. There was a separation, but the music you hear on Polaroid Memories was literally the glue that brought them back together.
That was the struggle to make this album, but the end result is radiant tracks that make listeners want to get up and dance. The Porter Robinson collaborators have moved past this phase, and are now ready to travel the world once again.
Below we speak with Urban Cone about this initial rift in the group, their Swedish roots, and love for American culture. You can purchase the album now here, and check out the group's upcoming tour dates on their Facebook page.
1. Loving the new album guys. Any specific moment that started the inception of this album, or did you guys just compile these songs together from years of writing music?
Glad to hear that! Actually we went through a pretty hard time during this time. We had just got back from touring and people expected new things from us. We started to feel the pressure and we started to drift apart from one another. So me and Emil went to his summer house and finished a bunch of ideas that pretty much is this album. So this album means the world to us. Without it, we would probably not be a band anymore.
2. Where was the album written and recorded, and how did those places affect the final outcome?
Most of it was written in the archipelago at Emil's summer house in Sweden. When we recorded it we wanted to go to a studio with serious gear and the ability to record in a big room to get the right ambience. So we rented a studio in STHLM owned by the guys from Miike Snow and Peter Bjorn and John and pretty much isolated ourselves there for 1 month. It is located right next to our favorite coffee place in all STHLM so we had right amount of caffeine as well!!
3. What was the importance of the polaroid on the cover and in the album name?
We wanted something honest and something that's not pretentious. When we almost split up we realized what's important and that is the 5 of us together. So we wanted a cover that shows a very honest version of Urban Cone.
4. What can you say about Sweden and the countries knack for forward thinking pop music? Any explanation for this?
Well it's dark and cold most time of the year so maybe people make music in lack of better things to do. Perhaps there is some truth in that but I believe the communal school has a lot to with it. You get introduced to music at a very early age and you can keep taking lessons pretty much for free during your whole childhood.
And of course our history has made Swedes super tuned into the music scene. With a global phenomenon like Abba it's not very strange that the interest in music is big.
5. Any other Swedish artists in any genre we should definitely know about?
You should check out Seinabo Sey. A Swedish singer that is gonna blow up very soon. Incredible artist and such an incredible voice!
6. There's undoubtedly a strong aesthetic of dance music on the record and your overall sound, and you've worked with a handful of electronic producers. Where did that influence come from?
We like uptempo tunes. Perhaps it's a reaction to the melancholy and grey weather in Sweden. We haven't really thought about it that much. We still have a lot of downtempo and melancholic songs though. I guess we like the mix of it!
7. On that subject, what can you tell us about the creation of "Lionhearted" with Porter Robinson and how that collaboration came to fruition?
Porter first sent us the track "Years Of War" and he liked what we did with it but wanted a different vibe for that song. He got back to us like 2 days later and wanted us to fly out to North Carolina to work with him. And then we wrote Lionhearted in like 3 days. It was super cool to go there and hang out in his place.
8. How far has your sound developed since you guys started playing music together in high school? Was it always pretty similar to this?
When you start playing together the first thing you want to do is find your identity. And that's what we've really achieved during the time we've played together. We love to experiment with sounds. The mix of more static sampled sounds and organic live played sounds is really something that defines our music.
9. We pick up strong themes of exploration, nature, and the outdoors while listening to the album. Do these things impact or inspire you all?
Yeah all these things inspires us. We travel a lot and that is probably the most inspiring thing you can do. New impressions, new environments. That's what we're after.
10. Next up for you guys is a bunch of tour dates in both European and America. Any specific places you are most excited to both play and hang out in?
We're so excited on all of this! But we really love playing in America. People there just feel so enthusiastic. It's the biggest music industry in the world and you can really tell that when your there. Maybe we have a romanticized picture because of the last time we where there.
For instance on our first show in LA the guitarist of The Strokes Nick Valenci was at our show, and the second show Mark Foster from Foster The People came up to us and asked if we want to go on tour with them. It just feels like these surreal things happens there more than they do here in Europe. But we'll find out!