I Don’t Speak French is the moniker of Hakan Persson and his sonic collective. Hailing from Sweden, the band have been riding the wave of success thanks to their feel-good alt-pop anthems.
The group have released their latest single ‘Blow The Speakers Up’ and so we decided to catch up with them.
So, we’ve got to ask… what was the idea behind the alias?
"The name 'I Don’t Speak French' comes from one of the very first tracks we made. It was called 'Hopeless romantic' and was never released. The chorus went like ”I don’t speak french, or Italian baby”."
You began releasing music from a small Swedish town called Vaxjo. Is there a music scene there?
"Yes, there is. For being a small town in Sweden, Växjö is buzzing with creativity, good restaurants and venues. There is also a big university here, so there are always a lot of talented students moving in. It’s easy to get in touch with great musicians and everyone is very open minded."
What started out as a one-man project has now turned into a musical collective. How did this come about?
"The best way to make music is to do collabs, and to engage all the talented people around. It starts with a great demo, and then you need a good drummer or you might have a friend that is a good rapper. The music industry is such a tricky business. We help each other out with everything from performing on each others tracks as well navigating through the legal and financial jungle."
Were you guys introduced to music by your parent’s record collections? Or did you have to find your own way?
"Yeah, we grew up before streaming. CD’s were expensive for teenagers and our music libraries were limited. Finding our parents vinyl collections was like finding a pure goldmine. Bowie, The Beatles and The Rolling stones - sounds that never go out of style."
Talk us through the new track ‘Blow The Speakers Up’.
It’s a crazy psychedelic uptempo track with a lot of whistles and fuzzy guitar sounds. We love to experiment with instruments. The strange bass in the verse/into is actually an acoustic piano from our studio. We muted the strings on the piano with our fingers, and played the melody. Then the beat comes along and you get this falsetto voice. There is actually no real chorus, instead you have this crazy iconic whistle. It all breaks up with this really cool guitar that turns into a feverish epic outro."
And it was featured in the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 phone campaign. How did this happen?
"We work with an American publisher based in LA called Urband and Lazar music publishing and they introduced this track to Samsung. We’ve been working with our publishing for several years and they have placed our music in different TV shows and other commercials. But this is so far the biggest thing. They found our music on Spotify and reached out to us."
The track comes with a funky lyrics video. Whose creative vision do we have to thank?
"We all agreed that the song was wicked. So we hired this specific animator called Laura Matikainen who made a perfect video for the track. She has the same type of aesthetic that the cover-art was inspired by."
Do you write your songs with the intention of them having that whole radio feel? Or does it just seem to naturally happen?
"We love indie, we love to experiment with sounds, but we are also suckers for pure pop melodies. So yes, it seems to happen naturally."
You guys have been described as sounding like The Beach Boys and Bjorn & John. How do you feel about this?
"Proud and excited. We just love those bands and find lots of inspiration in them. Especially P, B and J are some of our production and songwriting heroes."
Who would you liken yourselves to?
"We kind off dip into that category of a mixture of electronic indie and rock that bands like Foster the People, Portugal the man and Coast Modern do."
Describe your next track to us.
"It’s gonna be both mad and magical. With one of those hooks that gonna make your ears bleed. There will also be some pumping guitars and fat drums. Can’t give away too much."
INTERVIEW BY ALISTER ROSS