Converging Paths into Galantis

Mar 14, 2016
Converging Paths into Galantis
Producer/DJs Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklöw of Galantis are seemingly on fire. Following the success of their first studio album, Pharmacy (Big Beat/Atlantic Records), Galantis just wrapped up their Louder Harder Better European and North American tour and will follow that up with a date at Ultra Music Festival next weekend. At the same time, Karlsson’s electronic indie pop band Miike Snow released their third studio album iii this month and also will be playing at Ultra Music Festival. It seems natural to ask how the duo can be responsible for so many amazing Galantis productions and put on such high energy, captivating live shows while balancing their projects and life.      
Miike Snow and Galantis have always been intertwined as it was Eklöw’s remix of the Miike Snow song Animal that led to the two becoming friends. Karlsson and Eklöw are no stranger to production success as both are responsible for hit pop songs under different aliases. Karlsson working as Bloodshy boasts songwriting collaborations with Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry and Britney Spears - his work on Toxic earned him a Grammy award. Eklöw, as Style of Eye, produced Icona Pop’s hit single I Love It.       
After some small talk and discussion about how 1001tracklists works, we got into depth with the Swedish duo about their success as Galantis. We learned about their influences from previous productions, the Miike Snow/Galantis relationship, the live aspect of their shows, Seafox nation, and much more.
Did you guys expect things to take off for Galantis like they did?
Christian: You never ever expect it. We worked really fucking hard for this project. We weren't doing it because it was just fun, we did it because we thought we could do something very cool that was missing in dance music. We absolutely love dance music. I feel we do something that no one else does. From the beginning, it wasn't like, “Oh, we’ll try something.” It was 2.5 years of being in the studio every day going at it until we had an album we were proud of.
What is it like having some of your tracks, especially Runaway, played in almost every DJ set?
Christian: It's really crazy. It's crazy to see it (Runaway) streamed on Spotify 200 million times. It's insane.
Linus: I can't even count that high! (both laugh)
Christian: We picked that single. Actually, the label didn't really believe in that song - they wanted to go a completely different direction.
Linus: We were fighting for it!
Christian: We asked if we could do it as a pre-single and we felt like Runaway sounded like the EP, but the next step. We knew the fans we earned from the EP would like it. And then, all of a sudden, way more people than just our fans liked it!
Can you guys talk about how it feels to be responsible for the success of a song like Peanut Butter Jelly which has crossed into mainstream music success?  
Christian: Peanut Butter Jelly - it was like...I don't know, we wanted that song to be the destination for the project, but didn't think the fans were ready for it yet. There was never a scary second with Runaway. Peanut Butter Jelly was very different. We thought we should make a lot of music and then the last song we put out would be Peanut Butter Jelly. Even then, releasing the song would still be scary.
Linus: It was scary. What is funny, since we are meeting with you, we got our first view of who was playing Peanut Butter Jelly from you (1001tracklists)! And so when we saw it starting to get really picked up, we were like, “Holy shit, DJs are actually playing it.”
Christian: We thought it would only be a radio thing and that DJs weren't going to play it. We still thought it was dope! It’s been amazing to see the reception that the track has gotten.
Where do you guys currently live?
Christian: I live in Bangkok.
Linus:  I live in Stockholm, but most of the time we are on the road.
Were you (Christian) living in LA before?
Christian: Yeah, I lived in LA for almost three years. I've lived in Bangkok for one year.
So, studio time for you guys must be tough to come by. Do you get studio time on the tour bus or travel to spend time together in your home studios?
Christian: It's been a little all over the place. We basically work every day no matter where we are. Of late, it's been a new thing that we really like - instead of sending files, we stream live and then jump on Skype in perfect quality.
Linus: I can sit with a mixing board and he can listen to that EQ.
Christian: It's exactly like being in the room. I feel like it's actually better. When you're in the same room, you’re on the computer checking out Youtube or something else and you lose focus. When you’re sitting there doing the stream, you’re not going to lose focus. I feel like it goes faster for some reason.
How long have you guys been doing this (Skype studio sessions)?
Christian: Only about 2 months.
Linus: We write the songs together in the same room, but when we work on the production, this method is really efficient for us.
What are some of the major differences between creating a solo album (Linus) or a rock album (Christian) vs. Galantis’s album Pharmacy?
Christian: Well, for me, just comparing Miike Snow and Galantis - Miike Snow is just the music that comes out when me, Pontus, and Andrew make a song. And we just don't give a fuck about what anyone thinks and that is it. In Galantis, we are pushing ourselves to try and really invent something new. We are pushing ourselves really, really hard - not for it to be a hit song, but so that it will be a song that we feel like we did absolutely everything in our power to make something fresh. Maybe we write 60 songs and pick 10. For Miike Snow, we go with the songs we wrote.  It’s a big difference, really.
Linus: For Galantis, it has always been about the meeting between us and what we bring in from our pasts. That created the first EP, and the first EP set the bar for what the album could be.
What do you think are the major things you brought into Galantis from your individual projects?
Christian: I think all of the small tools we’ve collected from being in different bands and producing for other people are in the Galantis backpack. We might use them or we might not, but we have them.
The Miike Snow Animal acapella is really the only song of either of yours that appears in Galantis sets consistently. Is there any particular reason for that?
Linus: We’ve played Animal for a long time.
Christian: We played it a little bit more in the beginning of Galantis, but Miike Snow has been on a break for a few years, so there was nothing really new to bring into our sets. Now, if we want to, we will have lots to use. But, I feel like we definitely have different audiences. Even when we play Genghis Khan now, which is a pretty big hit, I don’t really see them knowing the song. It doesn’t matter - we are still going to play it, of course. It’s still up in the air to see if the Galantis and Miike Snow audiences really ever cross paths.
Linus: But, there is a big reason for us playing Animal. That was the song that brought us together.
Right - your Style of Eye Remix of Animal?
Linus: Yeah.
Did you guys know each other before then?
Christian: We weren’t really friends, but we knew of each other.
Linus: We didn’t really meet until I made that remix.
Were you asked specifically to do it by Christian?
Linus: Yeah.
Christian: Mm-hm. I was a big fan. I knew all of his music.
What do you think is the biggest strength of your partner?
Linus: Christian - if you mix a perfectionist with someone who has no fear, you get Christian.
Christian: The instant thing that made me want to work with Linus was the energy in the studio and his creative mind. He’s always been kind of fearless with production. He is really very original in the way he thinks about music and I liked that right away.
What do you think is the worst tour habit of the other person?
Linus: We need more bad habits.
So you’re both pretty healthy guys then, yeah?
(Both Laugh)
Christian: We are healthy when we are not on tour.
Linus: It’s the balance between the two lifestyles that needs to merge really.
What does it mean to you guys to bring a live aspect to Galantis shows? Is that something that you both have always wanted to do or does that come more from the Miike Snow influence?
Christian: We wanted to do that from the beginning. That was one of the things we tried to figure out early on - how do we do this live? We are from the studio, we met in the studio, the studio is where Galantis was born. It’s not like we were DJs before we made music. It was like, “Okay, how do we capture this when we are jumping, dancing, and going crazy in the studio? Let’s try and bring as much as we can to the stage, and do that on stage.”
Is there any more of a live aspect of the show you would want to bring? Any other instruments?  How about bringing on another person?
Christian: We thought about that in the beginning some and it was more about having another drummer. Linus is a really great drummer and I’ve been playing drums and pads with Miike Snow, so we decided to try and do it ourselves. We’ve added more and more things as we’ve gone on tour. It’s more been a question of whether a festival will let us and whether there is space for our live set-up. Sometimes we’ve had to just DJ, but that’s never been our choice. We always want to do as much as possible.
So, do you think you guys will do something like Porter Robinson where he has his live show vs. his DJ sets?
Christian: The thing is - we always bring all the gear. Even in Vegas, we brought as much as we could and I don’t think anyone has really done that there. We were crammed in there, but it really worked and I think people were into it.
Can you talk about what you do playing live?
Christian: We do a lot of live stuff. When you’re seeing something live, the live aspect is that it is not perfect. Right, it’s live. When you see yourself on the stream, you see like “Fuck, the drumming wasn’t completely right.” But, that’s the live aspect - things need to be a little bit off.
It’s a challenge for you guys?
Christian: Yeah, it’s a challenge. It’s the thrill that things can go wrong. I feel like if I know it’s being recorded, I can’t just relax and just go. If I don't do that, you don't get the same experience of the live aspect of our show because I’m trying to be perfect and that’s not what you really want. You want to just go for it!
What have you noticed that is unique about Galantis fans?
Linus: There are a lot of hairy masks in the crowd, that’s for sure (laughs).
Christian: It’s really cool. That’s one of the biggest things for us. It feels like we have amazing fans who are very true to Galantis. They can be from all types of music. That’s why we started calling them Seafox Nation early. They were the ones who made this whole thing big. The whole Seafox Nation thing isn’t undercover. It’s not in any lyrics - it’s just something we said once and it took off. Seeing people with homemade t-shirts, flags, and phone covers - it’s amazing! It gives us so much fuel to do better and do more!
What's your relationship like with Kaskade? It seems like he's always been a huge supporter of you guys.
Christian: We have a special relationship with him. We got to know him because we were on the same management and we sent him some music. He answered back like, “Oh, it’s going down! Here we go!” That was one year before we released anything! He was texting us like, “Get ready!” and that meant a lot. He’s supported everything we’ve released. Pharmacy was what we started to work on from the beginning. We didn’t do the EP and then Pharmacy, the EP was a part of Pharmacy. We had too many songs. We actually played it for Ryan and asked for his help of what to pick out. He has really great ears. He should be in A&R, actually.
What do you think was the most inspirational show you saw as a fan or the show that caused you to want to be a DJ/producer?
Linus: I remember mine.
Christian: What was it?
Linus: It was a festival in Sweden. It was ages ago. I was seeing Massive Attack play live for hours. Straight after them were the Chemical Brothers. After that, my life was changed. When I woke up the next day, I just had it in me.  
How many years ago do you think that was?
Linus: Maybe 1997.
What about you, Christian?
Christian: I went to a lot of concerts when I was super young. I had some contacts that got me into shows, so I got to see Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk when I was like 10.
You were 10?!
Christian: Yeah, amazing.
What’s the biggest indicator of success to you guys? What means the most to you?
Christian: It’s getting people to come to the shows. It’s got to be. When you announce something like this tour, you think, “Am I really going to sell it out?” And then when you sell it out in a few days, that’s unreal! Now we have to give all these people something amazing. That’s all I think about when I’m on stage. I really care about every single fan and that when they leave, they go, “Oh my fucking God, that was dope!”
Be sure to check out their label Big Beat’s Miami Party…we hope they stop by since they’re headlining Ultra that weekend!
Big Beat Miami 2016
Saturday, March 19th from 11pm-5am
FDR @ Delano (1685 Collins Ave, Miami Beach)

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