We first heard the music of Swedish band Little Children last summer and were immediately smitten. The songs are drenched in synths and hooky melodies, built on driving rhythms, and catchy as hell. Turns out, Little Children is the solo project of Stockholm-based singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist Linus Lutti. After a string of singles and EPs over the years, Lutti’s released a new full-length titles f.f and it’s quickly become one of our favorite albums of the year. Lutti graciously made some time recently to talk with us about the new album and his musical career.
raven + crow: Alright, Linus, first off, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk. We’ve been listening to f.f pretty non-stop since it came out last month and are really into it. It strikes me as a pretty logical evolution for your music—you’ve always had a really breezy, driving sound; something that’s somehow tranquil and full of energy at the same time. Can you talk a little bit about what you were after with this new album or how you wanted it to be different from past work?
Linus Lutti: Thank you! Well I wanted it to be more (electric) guitar driven. I wanted to capture the core of the songs and instead of doing 20 synth overdubs, I wanted to try to keep it somewhat “clean.” Pretty much as it is recorded from the beginning; live with guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.
But I didn´t want to make it a “rock” album. I wanted to keep the “LC” feeling on everything, which I think we managed to do pretty well in the end.
Yeah, totally—that makes sense. So, I don’t really like to play the comparison game, but I know a lot of people are hearing similarities to the most recent War on Drugs, which I get, but I also know you’ve been playing this music for a while now and it goes much deeper than that. Can you talk a little bit about your influences? I know there was a childhood love of Bruce Springsteen that you’ve spoken of before. And I feel like Europe + ABBA are really the only Swedish bands I knew of in my childhood—was there a lot of looking to American music for inspiration for you?
I grew up with my father listening to Swedish progressive rock such as Träd Gräs och Stenar and Kebnekajse but also a lot of Neil Young and Bruce. That´s what I was brought up with. I can´t change that. And I´m glad it wasn´t ABBA in a way. I don’t think LC would have sounded the same then.
I´ve always been more interested in what comes from America and a take on traditional music. But I also have a strong “baggage” with Swedish/Scandinavian music thats sort of in my DNA, with somewhat darker melodies, and tranquil feel to it.
Psyched or not psyched about the just-announced ABBA reunion shows?
I didn’t know it was happening—are they all still alive?
I won’t tell them you asked that. Two of my favorite tracks on the album come back-to-back—“Chasing the Sun” with Anna Levander and “Tear Us Apart Again”. The former changes the dynamic of the song early on by opening up the drums and building a more recognizably live sound over a flatter or electronic drum line. I feel like this is something you do to great effect in your music, playing with the scope and expansiveness and dynamic of the sound to affect and engage your listeners. Why do you think those kind of musical shifts evoke such feelings in us?
What I first decided when we started recorded the album was that I wanted the songs to sound as good live as on record. I wanted to capture that live feeling in a sense. I also wanted the listener to engage and activly listen to the music. I always want something to happen in the songs and build them up all the time.
I know that you pursued a number of seemingly less creative, or at least less musical jobs and careers prior to this—bartender, therapist; was the move to make music a later in life thing for you? And what brought you to make the move?
Well, yeah sort of. The last ten years of my life, I always wanted to keep playing music and have less of a “regular” job, but it’s been really hard. I’ve been working different bars with fellow musicians from Fireside, Teddybears, etc who’ve been in the same situation as me. I came to a point when I decided that I wanted to focus 100% on the new songs and the new record and I knew I couldn’t have a regular job. I wanted to write and record this album with no outside interference.
Was that tough, making such a drastic change in your life?
No not really. I knew I had to do it. I was a bit nervous, though, but it all ended up really good.
What came first for you, the singing or the guitar-playing?
The singing….BUT when I write songs it’s always the guitar first though.
Is the musical community pretty supportive there? Did they make that easier at all?
Yeah I must say so. All of my friends (real friends) who are in the same situation as me are and have been really supportive. But people who are in the same situation as me, see me as a “competitor” and that sucks in a way. Stockholm is too small for having too many full time musicians…
Someone’s gotta make the Glogg, I guess. But, seriously, Sweden’s one of those countries that seems to produce a ton of really great bands + musicians—Lykke Li, Shout Out Louds, The Knife, Miike Snow, Peter Bjorn + John, El Perro del Mar, the new collaboration LIV, you—any idea why that might be? Is it the cold weather and seclusive winters that breeds that creativity or something?
Yeah. When we grew up we had free municipal music school that we could choose to be a part of. I never was though (but I’m not a great musician either). But all the best musicians in sweden went to those classes when they where kids.
Also we have such a good heritage with great swedish songwriters who we grew up with. And also the long winters…. You can’t do much else than to play music.
So cool that you all have those musical programs integrated like that though. Back to you, I like the new album’s cover—the paint over the photo, and that symbol in the corner. Who made that? And where was the photo taken?
It was the great artist Gustaf Von Arbin who made this cover. We wanted it to be 50% 80’s druggy LA and a 50% North African feel to it. The photo is taken from Marracech.
And what does the album name mean, f.f?
That’s a well kept secret.
Fair enough. Though, if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it might have something to do with your initials. Speaking of meaning, though, I get the desire to not just release and perform under your name as a solo artist, but where does the name Little Children come from?
It comes from one of my favorite songs with Ornette Coleman called “Little Children” who my father in law introduced me to.
Oh cool—totally not familiar with him, but I’ll check his stuff out. Any plans to tour soon for you?
Yeah, we are going to all the main Scandinavian cities this year and early next year. Hopefully we will come back to the U.S shortly!
Definitely. Will you be playing with a full band or more solo gigs?
Full band is what I prefer! I have som amazing musicians with me from bands like Dungen, El Perro Del Mar, and LIV.
Well definitely try to make it out to Los Angeles—we’d love to see you live.
Oh I’d love to come back soon!