THE INTERVIEW: El Perro del Mar

Sarah Assbring Talks about El Perro Del Mar’s New Album. Photo Credit: Johanna Hedborg
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Recording under the moniker El Perro del Mar, Sweden’s Sarah Assbring won the music community over with her 2006 self-titled debut. She’s gracing our shores again in support of her pop-perfect sophomore effort From The Valley To The Stars (Control Group/Tcg).

We caught up with the busy singer/songwriter to get the scoop on the album, her tour, and who she would love to collaborate with (hint – If you’re name is Devendra Banhart or Bjorn Yttling, you might want to scroll down!).

You toured really hard behind your last record. Did you take a break at all between supporting that album and recording your new one From The Valley To The Stars?

I was able to take a real break last summer when I just spent every minute in the studio writing and recording. It was about time.

On your last album you arranged and produced everything very much on your own. Did you take the same approach this time around?

Yes and even more so on this album. I was very much into keeping it all true and organic and to not use any digital or midi devices whatsoever. It made the process even more tricky, since I’m working on my own, but it was worth it. I was after that specific jangly feeling anyways.

Did you have a specific blueprint when you went into make your new album or did you just follow your own muse?

I had worked on a theme for the album for a long time, long before I even started writing the actual music. It revolved around my idea of heaven – symbolically as well as literally and harmonically. I wanted to write something about the feelings you go through when losing someone close to you; both the sorrow and the feelings of gratitude for being alive – those kinds of highs and lows and the preciousness of life.

What would you say is the biggest difference between your first album and this one?

Well, this album is definitely different in the way that I wanted to make an album and a conceptual one at that. I really wanted to make something that felt like a classic album made to be listened to from beginning to end.

You’re playing two dates in New York City May 7th at Joe’s Pub and May 8th at Bowery Ballroom. Do you like the larger venues like Bowery or do you like the places that are smaller and more intimate?

I guess it depends on how the set is or how big the band is. On this tour, playing the songs from this album, I definitely prefer playing bigger venues. The songs need a certain kind of airy atmosphere I think.

You’re taking Lykke Li out on the road with you. Is it good to have a fellow Swede around?

Oh yes! It’s so great! We’re gonna be like a big funky family moving around in our tour bus.

Your tour is taking you from Stockholm to Paris, across the U.S. and back to Stockholm again. Is there a city that you would like to play that you haven’t yet?

I would love to go to places in Australia and New Zealand and well, I guess there’s millions of other places I would love to go to too. I’ve never played in Italy for example, I would love to.

Some artists say they can’t sit back and listen to their own music casually. Do you ever put your music on when you’re just sitting around the house relaxing?

No, that’s more or less an impossibility. You’ve kind of dissected the music so deeply and so many times during the process of making it. It’s a shame. But at the same time I think it’s that very feeling that makes you want to continue making new things…because maybe there will come a day when you’ve done something you actually can enjoy listening to without feeling awkward or uneasy. That’s what I’m striving for.

If you could record with any other artist, who would you pick and why?

I would love to work with Devandra Banhart. He’s got such magnitude and power in this very natural way that I admire. I’m also dreaming of working with Björn Yttling of Peter Björn and John some day.

When it comes to your music, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given and who gave it to you?

I think I gave it to myself when starting El Perro del Mar: Keep it simple and sincere.

Amy Wagner

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