With Sally Shapiro's new album, Somewhere Else, set to be released February 26th and the first single What Can I Do? recently made available for download (check the iTunes Store), I was curious to ask them a few questions about the new LP and music in general.
This is my first ever interview so I'd like to thank Johan and Sally sincerely for taking the time out of their busy lives for this humble blog.
How would you describe the new album?
It's difficult to describe it in a few words. The melancholic harmonies and the 80s disco feel are still present, but there are also influences from indie pop (á la Belle & Sebastian), funk, IDM, trance, jazz and ambient.
This being your third album as Sally Shapiro, did either of you have any difficulty finding inspiration for the new songs? And where do you look for inspiration?
Well yes, there's almost four years since we completed the second album (My Guilty Pleasure), and for a few years we didn't think we would ever release an album again. Johan released two solo albums in the meantime, and his album Casablanca Nights is in one way a link between My Guilty Pleasure and Somewhere Else. On that album he experimented with different collaborators and some of the production ideas on that album are taken further on Somewhere Else. But the ideas come from many different genres of music – modern genres as well as subgenres of the 80s and 90s that we haven't visited earlier.
With the new album were you looking to change things up at all? Has the recording process changed much since the early days when “Sally” preferred to sing her vocals in seclusion?
Not really – Sally still sings her parts alone. Maybe there's a difference that she doesn't need a lot of persuasion anymore. In the beginning Johan had to talk her into recording a song, sometimes for a very long time.
Being that it's highly unlikely that your music will ever be performed live, what would you say is the best way to experience Sally Shapiro?
We guess that's quite individual. Maybe on headphones when you're travelling? A friend of ours like listening while cleaning up.
In an ideal world, what would you hope to achieve with your music? And what would you most like to communicate to those listening?
It's of course fun just to create the music and experience the process of a track taking form. And sometimes, we get email from people who tell small stories about how their music has affected them on a personal level. When you know that you have reached someone's feelings with the music, it gets you some motivation and a feeling of having created something that means something. What we would like to communicate? It's difficult to put that into words, maybe the point of music is to communicate things you can't communicate with just words.
For Johan, has fatherhood changed your approach to your music at all?
Johan: I once read that one of my favourite artists, Biosphere, changed his approach to music completely when he became a father. Before becoming a father, he made music about space, and after that, he realized that what happens on earth is much more exciting than what happens in space. I wish I could write something as philosophical as that but I think the biggest change is simply that I have less time to produce music, so I'm much more effective when I work, and I spend a lot of time just thinking about musical ideas when I'm doing other things, such as cycling, or before I fall asleep.
For “Sally”, in today's world of social networking and connection, the choice to remain anonymous is unusual but also very easy to understand and respect. What is it that made you want to keep some separation between the music and your life? And have you ever wanted to connect more personally with your fans?
Sally: I have a strong integrity, and therefore this separation is necessary for me. I also feel it makes me more free to express intimate feelings in the music, on a personal level. If everyone knows who I am and all stuff around me, I would feel more vulnerable and inhibited. But yes, sometimes I have felt that I would have liked to connect more personally with some fans, but usually I don´t, since I could not do it regularly and frequently since those kind of stuff takes much energy for me and it would then feel very bad to choose when and who just depending on me and my daily feeling and time.
What interests do you have outside of music?
We watch a lot of film, and like reading. We're also both interested in society and politics, we don't really have time to deal with it, but we're concerned about issues such as global warming.
What does music mean to you both, personally?
Sally: For me, it influences my mood and thoughts very much.
Johan: I can't imagine life without it.