One slightly wet Friday night in December, JUICE braved Zouk’s party-crowd madness to interview Swedish EDM duo Galantis, who were down to perform at Hennessy Ultrabeat. They’ve graced many EDM publication titles’ ‘Top DJs to Watch’ lists in 2015 and are recognised mostly for teaching the world to “spread it like peanut butter jelly” — yes, these are the guys responsible for said infectious song. Before Galantis was founded though, Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklöw were involved in other projects and positions that were easy to overlook. For instance, both have been songwriters and producers for many notable artistes like Britney Spears (‘Toxic’, co-written by Christian under his production company Bloodshy & Avant), Icona Pop (‘I Love It’, featuring Charlie XCX, co-written by Linus), and Katy Perry (‘Love Me’, co-written by Christian). And when they weren’t busy composing Top 40 tracks for other artistes, Christian was writing for his indie band Miike Snow while Linus was a DJ under the stage name Style of Eye. Impressive individual oeuvres, we must say. We sat down with the award-winning individuals to pick their brains on curing themselves through music, their creative process, and when they would pull a Kanye-at-the-Grammys — though it was really more of a conversation with Christian as Linus was as quiet as a cat.
This question is for you, Christian. You’ve been working since you were 14. Did you finish school or did you skip the whole high school bullying-character building experience?
Christian I kinda skipped school to do music but I wouldn’t advise anyone to do that (laughs). I don’t have anything to fall back on and it might not work out for everyone.
What sort of advantages do you think you gained since you started working way before most people in this genre?
C Well, I’ve kinda learnt the business inside out, which is a tool that I’ve been able to use frequently, so that’s cool.
Both of you have written and produced songs for pop artistes like Britney, Madonna, Kylie, etc. What’s the process of writing for another person? Do you’ve to get into character or in this case, become said artistes?
C This is different for producers and songwriter to songwriter, but I don’t think we are industry-type of songwriters. We just write music and it might or might not fit certain artistes. There have been many times where people approach me and ask me to write something [for a specific artiste] but then the song I write almost always ends up going to someone else. Every record that’s been big for me was written for another artiste. I’ve never hit the mark.
Linus That’s why we started our own band (laughs).
Good move. Pharmacy was a therapeutic experience for you guys and since pharmacies generally provide/stock medicine, who or what are Galantis trying to cure with its pharmacy?
What’s wrong with you guys?
C We need a lot of medication. We tried all sorts of remedies but nothing was helping us except for the process of writing songs and actually making Pharmacy — that was actually a type of cure for whatever problems we were having in life.
L But we’re not yet quite cured, so we’ll have to make another album.
C I don’t think we’ll ever be cured…
We hope not or that’d mean no more music from Galantis. Your process of writing begins with creating the melody first. Have you ever been stuck trying to merge your lyrics to the sound? How do you get them to meet in the middle?
C There are probably hundreds of amazing songs with the potential of being great successes that we’ve done that will never see the light of day because there’s something missing. When that happens, you can either hit your head on the wall until you bleed for weeks and finally find a solution or just continue writing and find another song [to work with]. If you believe in what you do, you should just continue. For example, I wrote the ‘Peanut Butter Jelly’ lyric over 10 years ago and it never fit anywhere but I had it in my back pocket. All of a sudden there’s Galantis and a track that the lyric fitted into. It’s a real thing now and people can say “spread it like peanut butter and jelly.”
How did you know that song would work today instead of when you wrote it?
C You’ve to be in the lead to show people the way. Show people what you think is cool or great and what they should listen to.
One of you mentioned enjoying seeing your fans cry on the dancefloor while listening to your music because your music is an emotional experience. Sounds a little sadistic but we sort of understand it, so who makes you cry on the dancefloor?
C Both of us like this artiste called RY X. He’s amazing! He’s been really influential for us in the last year.
Galantis is pretty much a full-time gig for you two. Do y’all ever have time for Style of Eye or Miike Snow anymore?
C Galantis is everything. Miike Snow — we just released a new single [‘Genghis Khan‘] for our album [iii], so I guess the work is done. Even though Galantis takes a lot more of my time, there are three of us in Miike Snow so music comes together quickly.
You went from dance pop as Bloodshy & Avant, then to Indie with Miike Snow, and to EDM with Galantis. Is this latest incarnation as Galantis you at your most comfortable?
C I feel really comfortable in dance music. I feel like dance music is supportive of each other and something clicks with me and this genre. It happened awhile ago but I was a little bit on the outside ‘cos I was writing pop songs and producing, and basically working myself to be freer to do whatever I wanted to do in the future. When I did that then it became “Oh, I’m doing dance music.”
If Taylor Swift wins best album of the year at next year’s Grammys over Kendrick Lamar, how will you react?
C We’d pull a Kanye West. We’re fans of Taylor Swift as well, but Kendrick is one of the best artistes for the last few years and probably one of the best lyricists in music.
We think so too!
Galantis performed at Zouk Club KL on Friday 11 December ’15 for Hennesy Ultrabeat. For more from the duo, click here.