"We keep the song naked, and when we feel like we have the right one, we put some clothes on it and see how it feels."
A Sit Down With DJ Galantis
Galantis isnt your typical dance group. They write songs differently, starting with the melody rather than the beatand they write lyrics differently, unconcerned with whether or not theyll be singable in a club in the wee hours of the morning. On June 8, after making waves with a handful of popular singles, the powerhouse pairing of Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklöw released their first full-length album, Pharmacy.
Galantis was discovered in 2014 with the singles ' Smile ' (in the ultra-sexy video clip) and ' You', very quickly adopted by the most influential DJs. Born from the meeting between Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklöw , the duo has since experienced a meteoric rise. The first is the leader of Miike Snow , a successful Swedish electro-pop band, whose biggest hits have all been the subject of dancefloor remixes. Among them, ' Silvia ' taken over by Sebastian Ingrosso and Dirty South , or the excellent ' Animal ', remixed by a certain Style of Eye, pseudonym dancefloor of Linus Eklöw.
Can you walk me through how you construct a song from the ground up?
Christian: We almost always start from melody and chords and then maybe a lyric idea. Usually piano or guitar, stripped down. We keep on doing a lot of those, and we filter out the winners and start shaping it into something that is Galantis, which I think is rare in this genre. It mostly starts with people making a beat and then someone else comes in to write something on top of it.
Linus: Its very important for us to feel that the song in its plain simplicity, just piano and vocal, is actually moving us.
Were there any songs that didnt make the album that you may release later?
Christian: We always have a box of ideas. There were probably over 60 songs recorded for this album, and the ones we picked arent like, "These are the best 12." They are the 12 we figured out how to finish. Of course, we wouldnt put it in the box if we didnt think it should be on the album, but there is a lot of... we couldn't quite find all the puzzle pieces, so they go back in the box. Thats the way we approach writing music. Like on the first album, Peanut Butter Jelly was something I wrote over 10 years, but it was just an old snippet and I couldnt figure out how to put that into a song. It's not a song yet, but it's a piece, so you would never throw any pieces away.
When did each of you first get into music?
Christian: I started as a 13-year-old. I come from skateboard culture, so it was punk rock, and I got into hip hop when hip hop got into skateboarding. I had never done anything else but music. I never had a job.
Linus: I started playing drums when I was 10 and went through my phase of playing Rage Against the Machine covers. But then I got into soul and jazz and started mixing that up with techno. I went through a phase of pretty much every style of dance music there is.
Christian: Writing songs, being in the studio 24/7it gives you tools and options, but I dont think it would influence anything that we do now. Doing music for other people and doing music for yourselftheres absolutely nothing that compares those two. It puts a completely different pressure on you if youre doing a song for yourself; it sticks for the rest of your life. You really have to believe in the music when you put your own name on it.
You both have long studio experiences but you come from different musical backgrounds. When did you find out that your two profiles were compatible?
We realized almost instantly. The first time we met, it was at the time of Animal 's remix . Linus (aka Style Of Eye) and I realized that we had the same energy and the same vision of music. Without knowing it, it gave birth to Galantis.
How would you describe the artistic direction and sound of Galantis?
Christian: I think we do stuff a little bit different [in] this dance world. I think the songwriting, the melody and lyrics are very, very important to us. A lot of people start making tracks and all of that, and when we start, we write songs. Thats something we've been doing for very long time something that we love to do. So we start with the piano and add melody and lyrics. And then we build off of that. We love this dance music scene and being in it. Of course, Linus has been a DJ since forever and Ive been producing and have been very influenced from the dance scene, but we both thought there was something missing that we wanted to do. Big drops sound amazing [ ] but it's missing something where I dont feel the lyrics or I dont feel the melody that much. And thats something that I think we can do.
Linus: We love the feel good song that mean something. We want to say something, too.
Since youve performed all over the world, have you noticed audiences responding differently to your music?
Christian: U.S. is the best. Its very rare you do a show here and walk off and be like, Oh, that was awkward. I like the approach of people who go see shows here. Very positive.
Can you comment on the differences and universalities of the dance scene in the US versus Sweden or Europe in general? Are there any stark differences you see?
Linus: I guess right now, there are differences. Its been growing a lot in Sweden. I think we've seen the scene from inside...but for the last couple of years the boom that happened here (in the US) has now sort of reached Sweden in a way. I think its cool. Its different but I really like both and I think they're helping each other out. There are a lot of things from the US that are brand new to European crowds. Its cool that the US boom brought in a lot of new people listening to dance music, too. Its a good thing, you know? If it was all from the same source, I think that wouldn't make for the best way. I think this is a better way.
Christian: I always feel like when Im in Ibiza I can see the difference. I remember like in 2006 or 2007 parts that I love about Ibiza were still there but also new things. And it comes from countries like the US and is now coming to that island that has been one of the meccas of dance music... its a good thing.
At voice level, your trademark is a little to divert them with a lot of effects, why?
We love hacking voices in all directions, as if we were part of a somewhat hybrid process. Vocally, we like to be between the human, the machine, the woman and the man. 'Runaway (U & I)' is made up of three extremely different vocal tracks, coming from three distinct universes, then tapped into an even stronger ensemble.
You guys found a nice formula with your debut album Pharmacy when it came to balancing the melodies with vocals. How did you choose the vocalists this time around?
Christian: The Galantis way to do this is, we don't really choose the vocalists: we choose the songs, and the songs come about the way they come about. So far, its only been whoever is in the studio with us singing the song.
Linus: A very organic way.
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