It's time to know better I Am Karate on the occasion of the release of their first album !
Could you introduce I Am Karate to our readers ?
We are Marta Pettersson and Erika Ahlström and together we are I Am Karate. We’re from the Dalarna county in Sweden, and we write and produce our own music. Marta plays keyboard, guitar and sings and Erika sings and plays piano.
Where does the name of your musical project come from ?
We thought ‘karate’ had such a cool meaning - empty hand. It’s a martial art where you come in peace without any weapons, but if you have to you can defend yourself. So we named the band after that. It feels empowering and the name stands out, which we feel matches the idea of our musical project.
How did you meet ?
We met 2012 at a music school, community college style, located out on the Swedish countryside. We were both very impressed by each other and felt a connection, but we didn’t start the band until 2014. Marta asked Erika if she wanted to jam with her and of course she did. It was like love at first sight when we started to sing together. We just clicked.
Was it obvious to make music together ?
It was super obvious from the first note that we loved what happened in the room when we sang together, but at first we didn’t write our own music. We mostly did covers, and our own takes on other people’s songs. After more than 6 months after we had started the band we tried to write a song together, and we just clicked again! So much fun! We really complement one another when we work, write and produce.
Do you mainly have the same musical influences ?
Yes mainly, but Marta listened to more old school bands like Nirvana, The Doors and Pink Floyd when she was younger (and still does) and Erika listened to many contemporary artists like Susanne Sundfør, Lykke Li and Anna Ternheim but also her fair share of jazz music since she studied it for 2 years. But we both love artist like Mø, Robyn and Grimes.
Why did your first album take so long ? Was it the time needed to explore and find your musical path ?
Exactly, we really needed to explore and find our sound and what we wanted to say. It takes time to let the songs you write sink in, and for them to become real songs. You can have an idea for a song but it can take anything from a day to years to fully know how you want the song to sound and feel like.
Could you explain us the title of your album ?
"Sad People Laughing" is basically us. And many other people with us for sure. We often feel like there’s a pressure in society to be/feel happy. Like press down bad emotions and thoughts and only focus on the sunny sides of life. This is very bad for everyone, and we wanted to shed some light on it.
What are the main themes of your songs ?
Relationships and self image. We write about love, friendship, being anxious and neurotic, being in your twenties and not knowing what the hell you’re doing. We always aim to be true in our lyrics, and the themes of our songs are either taken from our life’s our inspired by them.
How would you describe the universe of I Am Karate ?
Personal, therapeutic, emotional, fun, exploring, allowing, and honest. Pretentious sometimes, silly sometimes, and everything in between.
What would you like to bring to the public with your music in these troubled times ?
Inspiration and an empowering message, that we will grow from this and get better and stronger. Hope is what get us out of bed, so we must allow ourselves to hope. But we must fight for better times. We must get involved in the ways we can, educate ourselves and spread love.
What are the main qualities of each ?
Erika is a really good listener and a loyal friend you can trust. It’s easy and fun to write music with her since she’s into whatever ideas I have, even if it’s weird or doesn’t make sense. She says yes and she wants to explore, andshe has such an interesting mind and so many great and fresh ideas.As a friend Marta is a really caring, considerate and funny person and you know she really cares about you. She is in touch and honest with her feelings and is not afraid to show them like I am most of the times. I think that’s something to treasure and something that’s super inspiring from a creative perspective since she can always access those interesting experiences, bring them into the light and create something beautiful.
What are your further projects ?
We will release a music/lyric video for our song "River" from the album, this Wednesday. Really excited about that ! We are writing new music and doing some collaborations, but the future is very unclear at the moment. One thing’s for sure though, we’ll be back with more fresh music in the future. As soon as we’re ready !