Sunday, December 13, 2009

Baker's Dozen: Interview with tada tata

Last month I was lucky enough to conduct two interviews. The first with Sweden's My Sunrise (interview can be found here). The second is with another infectious Swedish band, tada tata. tada tata is the poster child for everything I am trying to do here. They are a band that makes great music (like "Hit the Wall" that was part of our November Let Them Eat Pie Playlist) and takes inspiration from cooking and baking. The eighth installment of our Baker's Dozen series on Write.Click.Cook.Listen.

TB: Tada tata's Myspace page suggests that the band is made up of "a lot of people, but mostly just tata and the friend." Who are tata and the friend and how did the two of you wind up making music together?
tt: As a kid I (Tanja) was called tata by my family, somehow it stuck, on my mum's mailing lists for example I'm still called tata. "The Friend" is a friend whom I've known for 10 years now. We met in a suburb to Stockholm where I moved when I was 12. Years later we found ourselves living in Finland and started to make music together with a band called Buns & Beans. But...the music I wrote didn't really fit with Buns & Beans and that's pretty much how tada tata started off. The Friend has been my key helper since then cause I was too shy to do it by myself.
TB: "Hit the Wall" caught my attention the first time I heard it because of the catchy lyrics and instrumentation. What is the story behind the song? Why did you choose the instruments you did for the music?
tt: I spent some lazy weeks in the British countryside and had too much time to think. My mum was burnt out from work, I heard of people from ground school who were getting plastic surgery, I thought of those people who run in escalators and I had a lot of problems with my emotional relationships etc...just the usual stuff.

In the beginning it was just a ukulele and I. The final instrumentation was not predetermined, a friend and I just played around with things and instruments laying around when we recorded it.
TB: "Hit the Wall" is one of seven tracks that appears on a self-titled EP released this year. Was this your first EP? When it was all said and done, songwriting, recording, releasing, how long did it take for the EP to be made?
tt: This is the very first EP by tada tata.

At first we were supposed to release it as a 7" on a British indie-label but economical crisis and such came (and got) in the way. Then we released it on Cosy Recordings, which I'm very happy about. The whole EP is recorded in different cities with different people during a 2-year period because I've been moving around so much. I guess it ended up pretty well after all, but if we make another release I would like to play and record with the same people and work more simultaneously.
TB: A lot of bands are fine with getting on stage and recreating the recorded versions of their songs. I've read that tada tata feels it is important to re-make songs and do something new for each live show. What is your reasoning behind this?
tt: To begin with I guess I'm a pretty restless person. I don't really feel like a complete musician since contemporary dancing is what I've mostly been practicing during my life, where "live performances" plays a bigger part.

It's not extremely important to remake the songs but I think performing live has more to it than recreating what's on the EP/record. Around the time of the release I met new friends who are musicians that I enjoyed working with which led to new ideas about the songs.
TB: Your influences include "release technique, Goosebumps, cupcakes and coffee breaks, postcards, naivete, snapshots. How do each of these shine through in your music?
tt: Release technique is a technique in contemporary dance...

It would be quite splendid if someone got Goosebumps just by listening...

Cupcakes & Coffee breaks makes our rehearsals more fun...

Since I've been moving around between countries and cities so much, Postcards have become some kind of signature for me. I feel that songs are a bit like postcards; you send them away to unknown people in unknown places.

I think it's important to be naive sometimes just to manage, especially musically.

Snapshots inspire me when it comes to recording; a good snapshot is mostly better than those 78 arranged photos you took...

TB: When I think of tada tata I think of cake. Perhaps it is the description of the music or the influence of cupcakes or the colorful outfits and instruments you've been photographed with. Are you big bakers? What role, if any, do cakes play in tada tata?
tt: Both me and the Friend are big bakers, the Friend makes the best cardamom buns, her nickname is in fact "the Bun" (Bullen in Swedish), that's how most people know her. For me baking 's like therapy. I hang out a lot in my kitchen with my boom box on full volume while trying to convert regular recipes into vegan ones.

I guess the whole thing about cakes and other sweet stuff in tada tata mainly has to do with the fact that I have problems considering my personal views or myself too serious. I somehow derive from the 90's ironic generation, if I however would take things very serious; tada tata would be some sort of ambient emo-band constantly circulating in minor.

If you wrap the serious stuff in cakes or such maybe people won't notice, but if they do...that's just great.
TB: Your about me on Myspace says "Sometimes it is harder to say and a bit easier to play." Do you find yourself saying sings through songs that you wouldn't otherwise say?
tt: It's a bit like the answer above. When I read, listen to music, watch dance or any art form I like those shrewd undertones. I believe it's more interesting to be left with a thought than to get it all served on a plate.
TB: As 2009 nears an end if/when tada tata look back at the year what will be remembered most?
tt: We have a lot of nice memories from when we played in Paris; 6 Euros Coffee, traffic stockings, Session en appartement, Oliver Peel, MiLK & Fruit Juice, an oddly placed beach, all those lovely people we met...

...and of course the great atmosphere at the Cosy Den 5-years festival in Stockholm.
TB: What does 2010 hold for the band?
tt: I will move to Stockholm for about 6 months and study sound art and also make some music for contemporary dance. The Friend spoke about coming as well, if she does we'll probably make some songs and release an audio cassette. A guy called Jonas & Kapstaden who makes really nice electro music might remix some of the songs.
TB: Tell me about Umea and Falun. What are the must sees?
tt: In Umea:

Umea is a dream for vegans, the 50-style cafe "Schmack" who also runs a vintage shop have the best vegan cakes and they also arrange small, really nice gigs.

If you go to Umea make sure you get a hold of a bike, that's the best way to transport yourself in this town. Take a trip to On or just bike alongside the river, or do as the Friend; buy a cheap rubber boat at the supermarket and sale away.

In Falun:

Everyone who visits Falun speaks about the great Copper Mine, I haven't been there yet but I heard it's quite an experience. Personally I would say that the area called Elsborg is a "must see." It's a well-preserved area with really old, small, typically Swedish Falu-red houses. One time a year they hold the annual flea market where the locals invite people to there yards and sell stuff, coffee and cakes.
TB: Are there any local bands that we should keep our ears peeled for?
tt: Indeed!

Almost everyone who's playing with tada tata has got their own musical projects, they are all very talented and lovely. Petparty, de Montevert, Nathaly Hollub, FLL. And do have a listen to Jonas & Kapstaden.

The Friend's and my favorite band from Umea is Kids of the Ranch.
TB: Knowing that both you and the Friend are big bakers, any recipes you care to share?
tt: The Friend's Crunchy Cardamom Buns! (Find it here).
TB: Anything else you would like to say?
tt: "Thank you and take care!
Here is video of tada tata performing "Hit the Wall" at the Cosy Den 5-years Festival.

Their song "Sticky Dumb Gum" from the Oliver Peel Session.

A Swedish interview with the band with snippets of their songs interspersed.

And finally...tada tata performing "The Brigade" at their EP release party.