… to release new album on april 22
The songs on Till Skogen (To the Forest) feature lush vocal harmonies, upbeat rhythms, and haunting melodies that blend element of Swedish folk traditions with contemporary flavors and global influences.
Addressing issues such as climate change, the pressures of social media, the search for community, aging and the loss of elders, Kolonien’s music tackles challenging subjects with a light-hearted attitude and a contagious sense of joy.
Kolonien is a four-member family band from Sweden that has been one of the leading voices of the Swedish folk revival for over a decade. With a style that blends acoustic roots music with anthemic, sing-along pop, Kolonien has a fresh, appealing sound that brings multiple musical worlds together. Cumbancha will release Kolonien’s album Till Skogen on April 22, 2022. Till Skogen (translation: “To the Forest”) is filled with catchy, appealing songs that tackle challenging issues such as climate change, the pressures of social media, the search for community, aging and the loss of elders with a light-hearted attitude and a contagious sense of joy.
Kolonien’s lush vocal harmonies are reminiscent of Fleet Foxes, their Nordic folk-pop sound might remind some listeners of Of Monsters and Men, and their hipsters with strings vibe makes them Sweden’s answer to Mumford & Sons. At the same time, Kolonien’s music and inspirations are deeply rooted in the Swedish folk tradition as well as the natural environment and progressive philosophies of the alternative-lifestyle community where they were raised.
Kolonien is made up of brothers Erik and Arvid Rask, their cousin Anna Möller and their childhood neighbor, and “brother from another mother,” Mischa Grind. The members of the band were raised in and around Järna, a community south of Stockholm that is known as a back-to-the-land destination for hippies, progressives, and back-to-the-landers. While they had been making music
together since childhood, the band formally came together during a music festival in Tanzania in 2010. Since then, they have toured extensively across the world and developed a devoted following at home and abroad. Till Skogen is the band’s third full-length album and its first for the Cumbancha label.
At its heart, Till Skogen tells the story of four friends, a family and a place. It is music dedicated to the band’s homeland and the forest outside the farm where the family grew up. It’s about the importance of those places in people’s lives, and how human memories and experiences are stored in our surroundings. Since their previous album Drömmarnas Land was released in 2015, Kolonien’s oldest relatives have passed away, and new lives have been created. The course of life and time has made itself clear. “It can be so damn lonely to leave your childhood and grow up, your worldview becomes more complex, and life suddenly strikes you with both sadness and joy,” notes bandmember Erik Rask.
After many years of diligent and arduous touring, which probably eroded both friendships and desire, Kolonien felt a strong need to return to its roots. To the place where it all began. “We decided to return to our old log cabin back home where everything started ten years ago. There we built a recording studio to unconditionally start playing music again, quite unsure of what would come out. Slowly, new music began to creep in and now, almost five years and a pandemic later, the record is finally finished.”
Kolonien started just over ten years ago as a Dylan-inspired progressive folk band in the Swedish environmental movement. The ideological dimension has always taken a large place in the music. Like the progressive music of the 70s, Kolonien’s music is used as a carrier of both personal and ideological messages. Overt political stances have, however, been set aside for a more complex worldview, but on this album the environmental perspective is again strong.
Till Skogen is a tribute to nature as a being in itself. The human exploitation of forests and land has become a literal burning political issue, which also takes its natural place in Kolonien’s music. What happens when our physical roots are cut down and burned? “Today’s forest policy has enormous shortcomings and puts short-term profit ahead of long-term sustainability. Our natural heritage disappears in every moment and it’s enormously frightening. It is a mistake that younger generations will blame us for.”
For Kolonien, the forest at home has also always had a highly personal essence, with trees that have stood for generations and branched out through time. “It is as if the forest has always symbolized our own family tree in some way, from the root and stem to the leaves at the far end of the thinnest branch.”
And the family tree is also artistically represented on the album: “We gathered our extended family, which partly forms the album’s wind section, but above all the large family choir with children, grandchildren, siblings, and parents that form the album’s musical thread. Even the dog Alfons sang along to a song. The music deals in different ways with a person’s relationship to their homeland, family roots, and place on earth. To then be able to gather our own human family tree and collective of friends felt super nice.”
The result of their efforts is an album that wanders from the catchy, sing-along folk pop of opening track “Time Will Tell” to the mesmerizing, nearly a capella title song, whose heart-wrenching lyrics cry out for the burning forests, asking “But what should we say to our children?” Kolonien also looks beyond their borders for influences, using inspirations from African guitar lines on “Alla Andra” (All the Others), Afro-Brazilian percussion on “Varandra” (Each Other) and Irish/Celtic fiddle riffs on the upbeat instrumental “Springen” (Jump), which features the talents of violinist Anna Möller.
Anna, whose father Ale Möller is one of Sweden’s most famous musical innovators, also wrote the lyrics to “Morgondag” (Tomorrow), a buoyant tribute to the possibilities of change. “There is something magical about the very moment of change,” comments Anna, “The shift, the breaking point, the minutes just before dawn. The limbo between darkness and light, being lost and having a purpose. That moment when both darkness and light co-exist is what we tried to capture in this song; the feeling when you reach the top of the hill, let go and can suddenly breathe again. There is always a breaking point. “Genom natten gryr det en nydag” – “Through the night a new day is borne.”
The album’s final song, the English-language “Unlearning,” was inspired by the work of author Charles Eisenstein, who posits that humanity should leave behind “the story of separation” and enter into a new story – “the story of interbeing.” Explains Arvid,“ I had always thought of the challenges of the world as various concrete facts that required concrete solutions: taxes, rules, laws, etc. But can it be that phenomena such as climate change and deforestation are symptoms of a deeper story we create together every day? And that, as long as this story continues, the symptoms continue? And if so, how could one behave to seek another story, to learn about? This song tries to fumble after these answers.” Its heady stuff, yet the song’s sweet melody and universal lyrics closes the album on an endearing and hopeful note: “I’m looking for myself / Longing for a way / One day I will be free / Free again.” Free like the birds that sing along to the song, ending the album, fittingly, with the sounds of nature.
Kolonien doesn’t just sing about environmental issues, they are demonstrating their commitment by donating 10% of their income from Till Skogen to the Swedish organization Skydda Skogen (skyddaskogen.se), a Swedish non-governmental organization that is devoted to saving forests and maintaining biodiversity by lobbying for more sustainable practices in Sweden’s forestry industry.
Kolonien will be touring in Europe and North America in 2022. For updates and more information, visit www.cumbancha.com/kolonien