Exclusive interview with Movits!
“It was damn near impossible to find a good band name so we chose Movits!” – Johan Rensfeldt, singer of the band.
There were no greater thoughts behind Movits! choice of name (besides a vague connection with the Swedish legendary poet Bellman’s character Father Movitz) but today the name is highly recognizable on both the Swedish and the American music arenas.
Johan Rensfeldt, Joakim Nilsson and Anders Rensfeldt.
On April 15th 2014 the SACC-LA team exits the highway into Marina del Rey to meet one of our favorite bands, Movits!. The expectations are high and we’re blasting “Head amongst the clouds” in our car to get into the right mood while we discuss their latest LA concert a few days back. Movits! truly has the ability to get their crowd to move it!
We meet the band on a beautiful hotel patio and start off chatting about the city. “LA is amazing, you can find everything here”, says Anders Rensfeldt. “California is cool because you can live in some of the greatest cities and still only be an hour’s drive away from beautiful nature and scenery”, adds Joakim Nilsson who then tells us he’s prone to head out to the ocean to do some surfing from time to time.
The U.S. breakthrough
Last week Movits! performed at the Satellite in Los Angeles for the third time since their big U.S. breakthrough in the summer of 2009 when they appeared on the TV show “The Colbert Report”. “Not many bands can tell you the exact moment when their breakthrough happened but for us it was really apparent, July 29th 2009, the same day we were part of that show” says Joakim Nilsson. He then continues: “We were on our way to our first gig abroad in Norway when we got an e-mail from the crew at The Colbert Report. Have you planned a U.S. tour? No. Do you want to come to the show? Yes. And that was all there was to it.”
Movits! at “The Colbert Report”.
Movits! had booked a gig at a small pub in New York in conjunction with their appearance on The Colbert Report and had managed to sell a grand total of two pre-sale tickets before the show. 15 minutes after their TV debut the concert was sold out. The sales figures of their album on Amazon went up with 85’000% and Movits! were listed as the number one band in the hip-hop category on Itunes. In 2010 they did their first U.S. tour.
Even though Movits! sing in Swedish they feel they have been well received in the land of opportunities. “I actually think it’s to our advantage to sing in Swedish. I don’t think we would have ever gotten to perform on The Colbert Report if our songs were written in English. Changing to English is like opening Pandora’s box to all competition on the American rap scene and Sweden is of course our most important market” Johan explains and adds: “I’m convinced that we are successful due to our specificity. We don’t sound like any other band and we’ve managed to create our own genre”.
When we ask the band to describe their style of music it is clear that they can’t really lock themselves into a specific genre. “Our music is often described as a mix between hip-hop and swing jazz. Our first album was very influenced by jazz from the 30s and 40s while the later albums are more hip-hop based with a lot of beats, rap and saxophone.”
Music creation and record label
While we discuss how their music is created we get an impression of a tight crew who have streamlined their work process like a well-oiled machine. “We’re on tour for 200 days a year and during that time we often break out the guitar to jam and find new concepts”.
Once at home, the band mostly works individually with their respective parts of the music. “Skype production is the new thing! It’s fun to work together but a lot of it is gruesome. It’s more efficient if we divide ourselves” Johan, the songwriter, describes.
He continues to explain, with the tongue in his cheek, how the other parts of the business is divided between the crew members: “Anders works as a producer and with the graphics. Joakim does a lot of the administrative work and I do all the celebrity parties and other bothersome things.”
Life on tour
“Touring all over the world is really awesome. Your job basically consists of walking out on stage and listening to people scream in excitement. You could do worse” Johan proclaims. However, the band members agree that life on tour can sometimes be a bit cumbersome. “You perform for an hour a day, the rest is just logistics. It’s hard to keep contact with friends and family and you become completely off-sync with people who have 9 to 5 jobs.” We ask Movits! for advice on how to manage life as a successful band and Anders tells us: “You need to have a growing sense of restlessness inside you and always be on the move. Then you need to surround yourself with good people. We hang out more with each other than we do with our girlfriends.”
In one year Movits! believe they will have released a new record and be on tour in Japan. “When the latest album was released we toured for two weeks in Japan. We will probably do something similar for the next one.”
In ten years Movits! hopes and believes that they will still be creating and performing their music but they are aware of how fickle the industry is and that a career in music doesn’t last forever. “When we’re done with music I guess it’s time to get a job in advertising with our own coffee machine!”
In 25 years Movits! will be living abroad, preferably close to a surfing friendly ocean, crying about the pension they’ll never receive.
Written by Max Westling and Erik Oredsson.