An Interview with Daniel Tjäder of Korallreven


Although Korallreven is a recently formed band, making music is nothing new to Daniel Tjäder. Since 2001, the musician has played keys with Swedish dream-pop heroes, The Radio Dept. Nearly a decade later, fellow Swedish music maker, Marcus Joons, had an epiphany during a trip to Samoa, and when he returned home, Korallreven was born. The duo released its first single, “Honey Mine,” in 2010, and after dealing with a series of life events, Joons and Tjäder released their debut LP, An Album by Korallreven, in November of last year, via Acéphale. Celebrating the release, the whimsical electro pop outfit will be playing selected shows in the US this month (check out dates here). Amidst gearing up for the band’s first tour in the States, Tjäder was kind enough to talk to about the making of Korallreven’s debut release, the US tour, and what the band has in store for 2012.

Katrina Nattress: Tell me about how this band came to be.

Daniel Tjäder: Marcus went to Samoa and had an epiphany of a certain kind of music. Some time later, we found ourselves living in the same city and got to talking about how to make this happen. So we started outlining what would become Korallreven and our first album.

KN: What is the meaning/significance behind “Korallreven”?

DT: Well, Korallreven is the Swedish word for Coral reefs, and quite close to the Samoan word for spirituality. Coral reefs are beautiful, sharp and sadly endangered.

KN: Two years passed between your first single and your debut LP. What was the reason for this?

DT: In short, life came in-between – but I think the songs benefit from it in the end. Marcus moved to NY, I was on tour a lot with The Radio Dept, day jobs, love, breakups, etc., etc…

KN: Take me through the recording process of An Album By Korallreven.

DT: Well, as you pointed out, it was a prolonged process spread across two years. The majority of it was conceived and recorded in my apartment in Stockholm under poor sound conditions, and some of it in New York, under even poorer conditions. Quite early on we had a clear idea of how we wanted it to sound, but it took us a while to get there – in part, because Marcus was living in New York and I was in Stockholm. We’d send versions back-and-forth and slowly mold them into what would become An Album. It was then mixed and finalized in a proper studio.

KN: What was the best part of the recording process?

DT: When something unexpected happens to the song you’re working on. When you come up with ideas in the moment, make mistakes that throw the track in new directions. The haphazard things that just occur, the ones you never foresee.

KN: What was the worst part of the recording process?

DT: Apart from a stormy personal life throughout the whole process, it was struggling with the tools – having to learn everything as you go. It took us a while to be able to actually create the sounds we wanted to hear.

KN: If you could do anything differently, what would it be?

DT: I don’t believe in life after death. What’s important is what you do here and now…in this life. I also don’t think you ever get another chance to do the same thing twice. But we all have a responsibility to learn from our past mistakes and experiences, and to make things better as we move forward. With that, and with Korallreven specifically, there’s a lot that could‘ve been done differently. And it will be, on our next record.


KN: Critics say the record works best as an album-length experience. Was this pre-meditated?

DT: From the very beginning, wanted to create a collection of songs that fit well together as a series, from front-to-back. Perhaps we also had ambitions to make the album more than the sum of its parts.

KN: You’re gearing up to play in the U.S. for the first time. How do you feel about this?

DT: We’re absolutely delighted! Can’t wait.

KN: Have you visited the U.S. before?

DT: There’s probably no other country, apart from Sweden, where we’ve spent more time over the last couple years – Marcus lived there for a majority of that time, and I’ve toured and spent many holidays in the states. For us, it’s a bit like a second home.

KN: In what city/venue are you most excited to perform?

DT: Well, honestly, we are quite excited to play all of them! Personally I have very fond memories from playing both Bowery Ballroom (in New York City) and the Independent in San Francisco before.

KN: Do you think you’ll be back for a longer tour in the future?

DT: Definitely. But I can’t tell you when, where or how, at the moment.

KN: It’s great that you got Victoria Bergsman on board to perform with you on your West Coast dates. Will she just be joining you on “As Young As Yesterday,” or have you incorporated her into more of your live show?

DT: Don’t wanna spoil too much, but you’ll see…

KN: What can one expect from your live show?

DT: Instruments will be played, people will sing and dance, and it will all be set against a wall of by breathtaking visuals by Jamie Harley.

KN: What are your plans for 2012?

DT: Touring, some work, record, more touring, time off, some more recording…with hopes to keep surprising ourselves in the process.