Imagine music like a body of water. At times, the notes dive in and make a splash, other times they swirl around and build momentum; and then there are moments of peace, when the notes cut straight through the waves, or when the water settles, and silence takes over. Motions in music often mimic motions in water, and Swedish band Like Swimming uses that imagery as their guiding light when writing their sun-kissed songs.
"I think it takes a while to get a name attached to a sound," guitarist/vocalist Claes Carlström says about their band name. "It's just words, and making these words connect you to a certain feeling and sound takes time. Of course if we would've named ourselves Metallica that would've been really weird."
Like Swimming became a band two and a half years ago, but the three members, Carlström, Petter Wesslander (drums), and Ida Hedene (vocals/keys), have been playing together in "different constellations" for almost nine years. They were at a crossroads in their musical lives when they decided to venture outside of Stockholm to a cabin in the woods to brainstorm. From there, they sketched out potential new projects, and out of those discussions came Like Swimming.
Having a name that fit their sound was important for the band.
"We didn't know what kind of music we wanted to do when we started," says Wesslander. "We wanted to try to be as upbeat as possible as a three-piece band and at the same time wanted to do some really quiet, slow music, so Like Swimming became the name that tied everything together."
With two men and one woman, each member plays a unique role in the dynamic.
"Claes is creating chaos. And over here, Ida and I are more like structuring his work and trying to pull good ideas from his inferno of creativity," Wesslander explains, adding that difference between the band's male and female vocalists can completely change a song.
"It's really interesting for me as the third person, not singing in the band but from behind the drums, listening to how songs can change depending on who is doing the lead vocals. I listen to their voices more like instruments."
Now after more than two years of hard work, the band has released its debut album Structures, which, as Carlström explains, is "the result of us finding out what Like Swimming is."
The title comes from the band observing the structures of society and how they limit and even suppress people. They used that theme of societal structure when writing songs for the album, which covers topics such as violence toward women. However, to contrast those harsh views of society, they made their music feel more upbeat and warm.
"We want to embrace people and comfort them as well, and that's where I think the sound of the music comes in," Carlström explains. "We want to give energy and not take energy."
They also see the warmth in their songs as a contrast to the stereotypically cold, dark weather associated with Sweden.
The group recorded most of Structures at RMV Studios in Stockholm, which is owned by Benny Andersson, one of the "Bs" in ABBA. However, the music scene in Sweden is much different than it is in the United States. The band says that American audiences are more engaged with and receptive of their music, while it's tougher to impress a Swedish crowd.
"In the United States, you are much more musical risk takers," Wesslander explains. "[In Sweden] they don't want to show that they like the music too much because they feel like their opinion might be wrong. They can only say, 'These guys are good,' if everyone already knows they are good."
One milestone the band has reached is bringing its music stateside, thanks to their U.S. label DigSin.
"To release a full-length album on a national-based label was a goal in itself," Wesslander says, with Carlström adding, "I'm amazed with all the reception we've got [in America] for a debut. It's been amazing to discover another continent. It's an amazing place, a world of its own."
What they've brought to audiences for their live show is a simple ensemble: three people using tiny instruments to create a big sound.
"[Our name] Like Swimming also explains our live show -- from the tiniest little skinny dip to the largest sort of chaos."
Wesslander adds, "I think a lot of people appreciate that. There are a lot of people coming after the show saying they're amazed that we're just three people on stage, and we don't sound like three people. There is a lot more coming out."
For those looking to see the band on this side of the Atlantic, a spring or summer tour is in the works, though nothing has been confirmed.
Now that Structures has been released, the band plans to drop an EP called Tiny Structures, which features acoustic versions of songs from their debut. In the meantime, they'll continue writing music, performing and working their day jobs as an architect (Wesslander), literature teacher (Carlström), and student (Hedene).
From the inside of a dark cozy cabin to the bright lights of Los Angeles, the band is proud of the success they've achieved with such a small scale operation and are excited about what's next.
In celebration, they've decided to premiere the video for their latest single "A Room of Her Own" right here, exclusively on Music Times. Check it out below, and let us know what you think in the comments section. You can also enter to win a free copy of the album and a T-shirt here.