Swedish dream pop duo Korallreven is fearless as they approach their United States debut appearance. “I’m not worried about anything any longer, not even death,” says Marcus Joons, one half of the Scandanavian duo who admits to having only performed eight live shows ever. The United States is not particularly foreign to Joons, who earned the nickname “summer boy” from a Latina girl in a deli he frequented in Bushwick, New York. “I lived in New York for a year and have been here on and off for some years so this tour feels like a dream come true.”
Korallreven consists of Joons and Daniel Tjader, the latter of whom also was part of the indie dream pop band The Radio Dept. On their debut album An Album by Korallreven, the duo also collaborated Julianna Barwick and fellow Swede Victoria Bergman, who can be recognized from her guest vocals on Peter Bjorn and John’s hit single “Young Folks.” Bergman will also accompany Korallreven on their U.S. tour.
Though their An Album by Korallreven was released in November, the duo has been creating critically acclaimed singles and mixtapes since 2009, including their A Dream Within A Dream mixtape, which featured remixes of Britney Spears’ “Till The World Ends” and Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes.” Many of their own songs have already been remixed by indie electro leaders like Panda Bear.
”I’d love to see what Zomby would do with our tracks,” says Joon, “and I would love to remix Enya. In my fantasy, Stina Nordenstam will be singing on our next album.”
The sound on Korallreven’s first full-length is serene dream pop, with many layers of watery, beachy accents, mantra-like vocals and a touch of shoegaze-influenced guitar. From upbeat keyboard piano to various drum beats to the climactic violin heard on “Honey Mine,” Korallreven samples a number of instruments, then layers them and synthesizes the whole thing up to create dreamscapes. The sound of shells falling through trickling water, which returns throughout the album, and the ambient, cheerful South Pacific chanting on “Sa Sa Samoa” give the album a distinctly island-influenced sound. According to Joon, Samoa plays a heavy influence in the development of both the sound on the album and his personal sound.
“When I went to Samoa in 2007, I ended up where I think that most people who search for something grander end, with even more confusion,” he says. “But it’s a kind of lovely confusion. Because when you get out and see the world—like really see this beautiful world beyond the Starbucks—you find out that the world isn’t round and it hasn’t been smaller since we created this thing called Internet. It is, like the universe, just becoming more endless and beautiful and harder to grasp for every day.”
Needless to say, when I asked him what kind of feelings and ideas he wanted to evoke on the new album, Joon replied “Finding yourself. The real you.” Joon’s upbeat spirituality shines through Korallreven’s music, but he doesn’t hesitate to emphasize his ideas verbally as well. “I really try to live in the now. I love it here, the unreal reality that is my life.”
Though Korallreven didn’t rush their debut release, the duo admits that they are already working on new material. “It’s gonna be faster, more trance-y and dance-y and at the same time more mantra-like. Guess that it will see the light of day sometime in 2013.”
Given these aspects of Joon and Tjader’s personalities, what can we expect Korallreven to deliver in their live performances?
“It all should have some kind of trance-like feeling,” says Joon. “The visuals that we have created for this together with Jamie Harley really helps. Hopefully we will have to wake you up from your trance after the show in SF.”
Korallreven make their U.S. debut at The Independent on March 7 with support from Giraffage and Finally Boys. The show starts at 8pm and tickets are $15.