Alexander Pierre and Sanna Colling, aka Stockholm pop duo Anti Pony, have just released their debut EP Alexander, four songs of rolling psychedelic pop that have some of the best choruses we’ve heard this (admittedly very young) year. We caught up with them via mail to find out all about it.
So you arrived with the ‘I Go Places’ single in 2014, and then there was a long gap before you returned with ‘Under The Palm Trees’ and then ‘Broken Dreams’ in the second half of 2016, and eventually this EP. What was behind the pause?
At the beginning of the year we did some gigs in England and Sweden. Then we wrote a lot of new music and met our producer Max Måns Wikman. Before that it was just the two of us, who wrote, played all the instruments and produced the songs.
We also had some trouble regarding how we were going to release the music, which label we would work with etc. So it was a bit quiet from us for a while. But really, we were in the studio all the time, we experimented with new sounds, a new way of writing and had a great time.
After a couple of years as a band, does it feel like a big step to get the debut EP out?
Yeah it feels good that it’s out there now. Mostly because it’s fun to focus on writing new songs and do another EP/album, but it’s also a boost for us that people seem to dig the songs and want to hear more from us. And of course it’s so nice to finally share the music, we really put a lot of heart into it.
When I listened to Alexander, the thing that immediately struck me is how sharp the pop melodies are on it. When you guys first emerged you had a more psychedelic style, but now you’re writing these great pop songs with huge choruses. How did that stylistic change come about? Did you deliberately move in that more poppy direction?
No, I think all our melodies are very poppy in a way, but maybe not the sounds on our earlier songs. Maybe we should say thanks to Max-Måns :). I think Anti Pony always have a balance between the psychedelic influences and pop melodies and I guess it comes from the differences in the kinds of music Alex and I listen to.
How was the writing process for Alexander? Over what period were the songs written and how did you put them together? How does a normal Anti Pony song get written?
‘Pale Blue Hours’ is a pretty old song which we wrote and recorded in 2014, before our PNKSLM single [check out an early version here]. But Max-Måns made a new mix of it for the EP. We wrote ‘Broken Dreams’ when we were a couple, but it’s about a break up and we broke up just before we started shooting the video for the song. Buuhuu :(… ‘Haze’ is a song about a drive from a house that was taken over by rats in Hällesjö, but also about a gig we did in Manchester last year. ‘Haze’ and ‘When I Lie’ are the two “newest” songs on the EP. I guess the whole EP is about a broken relationship that’s about to end.
We usually write the songs and record the demo for it at the same time. Sanna writes most of the lyrics and Alex writes most of the music. Sometimes the melody comes first and sometimes the lyrics come first. Common to all the songs are that we rarely been sober when we wrote them.
You worked with producer Max-Måns Wikman on the EP. What did he bring to the process?
Max-Måns is a wizard of sound! I think everything he touches sounds amazing. He’s also a great psychologist for us in the studio and a good friend in life.
You’ve spoken in interviews about the ‘blue hours’ as a theme in your songwriting, and the phrase pops up again on ‘Pale Blue Hours’. Can you expand a little on that idea and what it means to you?
I don’t know if it’s a saying in the UK, but here in Sweden the blue hour is something that happens every afternoon when the light is pale blue, right before the sun sets. I don’t know how to explain it, but the meaning of it is that everyone turns blue, and feels a bit sad, during the blue hour. As if all the emotions you’ve been trying to hide all of a sudden takes you over. And I wrote the lyric one afternoon in the blue light, that’s how I came up with that sentence. And I think I write all my lyrics in that emotional phase. Even if it’s not during the blue hour, it’s in my own blue hour. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you, haha.
So with the EP out, how do the next few months look for Anti Pony? Is there a full-length album on the way?
We don’t know yet. We will do a lot of shows this spring and summer, it’s gonna be so much fun! Really looking forward to that, we have the best band with us! We will release more music soon, but I don’t know if it will be a full album or EP or just a single.
Anti Pony’s Alexander EP is out now on Lazy Octopus. They play at the Lazy Octopus releasefest on February 8 at Debaser Strand.
Words: Austin Maloney