Pound for pound, they’re Sweden’s best Alt Rockers

Pound, from Borlänge, Sweden, is on the Drunken Mermaid’s short list of favorite alternative rock bands.  So we are quite happy to share our interview with Pound frontman Stefan Altzar.

Pound is Janne Korpela, Stefan Altzar, Sam Granath, Kalle Sandstrom, and Christian Larsson

drunkenmermaid.com: How did Pound form?

Janne and Stefan played together in the band Universal Puppies and wanted to do something new, so they formed Pound in 2004. The music was more heavy and with an electronic vibe.

drunkenmermaid.com: Tell us what each one of your brings to the band.

Stefan is the songwriter, producer, singer and guitarist. Janne is the Led Zeppelin -influenced guitarist. He’s the free spirit. Christian plays bass and sings. He’s a very important part of the solid rhythm section. Kalle plays keyboards and is the architect behind the beautiful sounds on top of everything – like the icing on the cake. Samuel is the grooviest drummer on the planet, making everything we do just sound good.

drunkenmermaid.com: Musically, who are your main influences?

We have so many influences. From 70’s bands like Zeppelin, Queen and Deep Purple. 80’s west coast bands, 90’s bands like Soundgarden and King’s X and of course a lot of newer bands like Muse, Biffy Clyro and Foo Fighters.

drunkenmermaid.com: What’s a song you’d like to cover? How would it sound as performed by Pound?

I Play Dead by Björk would be fun to cover. It’s perfect as it is but we would add more guitars and heaviness.

drunkenmermaid.com: Tell us about the making of Desillusionizer.

The Desillusionizer album is actually leftovers from the Stardust, Lies and Holy Water album. We thought the songs were too good to throw away so we re-recorded some stuff and re-mixed it.

drunkenmermaid.com: What is your favorite track off of the EP?

My favorite track is Not the Same.

drunkenmermaid.com: You are signed with DO IT Management out of New Zealand; they’ve got some great artists, including yourselves. How did that come about?

We submitted the Fool You video to a video competition and we were one of seven finalists. Paul at DO IT management/records loved it and we got the deal.

drunkenmermaid.com: When will you be releasing your next album? What can you tell us about the new tracks?

The new album will be released after the summer. It’s called One of These Days I’m Gonna Bring You the Sun in a Box and it will be much more varied than before. A mix of all our influences. Longer songs, more keyboards, more unpredictable things happening. So at least the reviewers in Sweden will hate us. 🙂

drunkenmermaid.com: You did a tour of Germany and Switzerland last year. What were the highlights?

You get very happy when you’re playing in another country and the people understand what you are doing. We got very good response. The highlight was a gig in Aalen, Germany. A lot of nice people there.

drunkenmermaid.com: Where are you touring next?

We are touring in Sweden after the summer but we would love to come to the US!

Amen to that. Until they get here, visit Pound at their website and on facebook. They rock.

DJ Konai: A Unique Spin on the Music Industry

Over the past nine years, “DJ Konai” has established himself as a world-class DJ and music industry figure, working for Atlantic Records and DJing for Six Flags Maryland. His YouTube channel draws tens of thousands of views per month and climbing and he has north of 4000 Twitter followers. Recently he shared with us some insights into his career and the state of the music industry.

drunkenmermaid.com: Give us your backstory – how did you become DJ Konai?

When I was young, I was really into Genghis Khan and Confucius and studied their methods. I realized they had the same sound “Khan” in their name and then I just looked up what starts with that sound. Konai means a language that isn’t spoken or written. Since I am a producer, I feel that it is relevant because you can feel how I feel just by listening to the music.

drunkenmermaid.com: What do you think about the music industry today?

The value of music is a lot less then back in the 80’s. Due to the fact that vinyls used to cost more than mp3’s, it wasn’t as convenient to get as a download, and the supply of songs wasn’t nearly what there is now. However, more people are listening to music and the fans of music have gotten smarter and learned the quality of songs.

drunkenmermaid.com: Where does your music come from? What does it take to get it from concept to final realization?

Music comes from ideas that sit on top of other ideas. It takes attention to detail to get it from concept to final realization.

drunkenmermaid.com: Tell us about some of the producers you’ve worked with. How did you get hooked up with them?

I’ve actually worked with the Inkredibles who were signed to DJ Khaled and have done records for Jay-Z & Rick Ross. I learned a lot from them about how to make your music sound more radio quality. Before I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. After I met them, I realized there were certain rules in the music that I had to abide by. I got hooked up with them by putting them on radio stations; at that time I was working for Atlantic Records.

drunkenmermaid.com: What’s your best remix to date – the one that should be checked out above all others?

Right now I just finished a Madonna Remix but the one that’s the most popular is the Britney Spears Remix:

drunkenmermaid.com: What do you think it is that makes someone successful?

You have to have your own niche that others recognize you for. If Apple didn’t come out with a phone that you touch the screen with and apps that are easy to access, then they wouldn’t be one of the highest valued stocks right now.

drunkenmermaid.com: Tell us what its like to experience DJ Konai live. Any videos we should check out?

My shows are filled with energy. My goal is to make sure everyone has an amazing time whether I have to play my music or line dances, because it’s not about me, it’s about the people. I’m actually coming out with a video real soon DJing at Six Flags. www.youtube.com/djkonai is where you’ll be able to catch it.

You can also follow DJ Konai at www.twitter.com/djkonai. His remix of Brittany Spears’ Big Fat Bass is shared here on our facebook page.

Berlin Calling: Kathy Freeman’s vast and awesome Empire

Drunken Mermaid met Kathy Freeman via facebook, and after one listen of I’m Alive – You’re Dead we immediately knew we had to do an interview. Enjoy.

drunkenmermaid.com: You have an amazing background, emerging from the punk scene in the UK. Tell us about your early career and how you ended up in Berlin.

I was in a hippie blues band in Liverpool UK in 1977, just as punk exploded.  Almost overnight we reemerged as the harder, faster, meaner Accelerators.  Ditching twelve bar covers for three minute anthems, and riding a series of dodgy vans with our faithful and fearless roadcrew, we gigged constantly over Northern England for the next four years. We shared bills with the Buzzcocks, XTC, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Heady times. But by 1981 punk was losing its edge and our contemporaries were signing deals with big bad labels who’d steered well clear of misfit outsiders like us. The party was ending and I called time. Then I lived in London for 20 years, playing in a range of projects, including grunge-rockers The Birdhouse and my punk metal four piece Joyryde. Eventually I got into psychobilly, as guitarist with party rockers Death Valley Surfers (despite my lack of tattoos). Their chaotic forays into unsuspecting European venues eventually led me to Berlin. I realised I could have a better life there than in the UK. The right doors opened and I was living there within three months.

drunkenmermaid.com: What song do you wish you’d written? How would it sound performed by Kathy Freeman?

I covered I Love Rock’n’Roll (Merrill) and Tainted Love (Cobb) and I do a shedload of rockabilly and country covers on live shows. But  I never sat down and thought “I wish I’d written that!”  It’s more that songs I love have inspired me to write my own, better songs.

drunkenmermaid.com: What’s the worst gig you’ve ever played? (not that we’re trying to dredge up painful memories).

I have an effective painful memory eradication programme. NEXT!

drunkenmermaid.com: What’s the best?

My first show with the Accelerators in 1977. The bass player had quit only hours beforehand, but we did it in true punk fashion without him. We were so wired up we just went off like a machine gun and didn’t miss him for a second. The audience went crazy, we rocked like there was no tomorrow, and that was that!

drunkenmermaid.com: Is there anything you’d change in your career along the way?

There are certain people that I should have steered well clear of. But then again, I wouldn’t have so many songs.

drunkenmermaid.com: Tell us about some of the musicians who’ve influenced you over your career. Who are your favourites?

It started with early Dylan and roots blues music, e.g John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters –  followed by too many punk and rock bands to list. I’ve always liked Motorhead, and carried a torch for Doctor Feelgood and Wilko Johnson – true British grit. Nowadays I listen more to country and rockabilly artists such as Elvis, Cash and Hank Williams.  And I’m specially inspired by female artists who have, for whatever reason, had a rough ride – Courtney Love,  Marianne Faithfull, Wanda Jackson, Eartha Kitt, Amy Winehouse….

drunkenmermaid.com: Your dominant projects are Kathy Freeman’s Empire and Kathy X. How do the two differ?

Kathy Freeman’s Empire is an umbrella label for anything I am, or was, involved in. Kathy X is my three piece psychobilly band.

drunkenmermaid.com: Tell us about your latest recordings. How do they fit into your history and what do you like best about them?

My latest recording is the solo album Second Skin. All the songs, apart from the Tainted Love cover, have evolved from past experiences, personal and musical. I’ve played half of them with Kathy X for a long time , but it’s a whole different ballgame to record them with a solo dynamic. It was a challenge to keep the “rock edge” without the safety net of a full-on backing. I’m very pleased that the song Farewell – which didn’t suit Kathy X, and which I actually found too emotional to play solo(!) – has finally had an airing; and it’s come out as a powerful track.

drunkenmermaid.com: We want Kathy Freeman videos. Any plans to film some upcoming performances, or make a short film?

Yes – probably tracks from Second Skin. As for short films, I’m open to offers! In the meantime you can see my latest Kathy X video here:

You can get details on Kathy’s upcoming shows on her websites: http://kathy-freeman.de/ and http://kathy-x.de/ and make sure to check her out on facebook.