May 30, 2024

Me The Tiger Interview: ‘The journey has been anything but smooth’

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Me The Tiger

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(Interview by Evan South) For Me The Tiger, the journey from their last album to their new release “Envy” has been anything but smooth. The seven-year gap between albums was shaped by significant life events and the global pandemic. In this interview Jonas, Bella, and Tobias share their personal experiences and how they navigated through becoming parents, dealing with the pandemic, and the resulting silence in the music industry. As they faced delays and uncertainties, the band’s creative spark waned. They emphasize here how live gigs are the lifeblood of their creativity and energy, which was severely disrupted during these years. Now, with renewed vigor and a fresh start with a new label, Progress Productions, Me The Tiger is ready to reconnect with their audience and reignite their passion for live performances. This interview delves into their challenges, the decision to change labels, and their future plans, shedding light on their resilience and dedication to their craft.

SL: Your previous albums were released about 2 years apart. What caused the 7-year gap for the new album Envy?

Jonas: Life happened. We all became parents. We kept on working during the pandemic. Still,
when you have a gig booked that is delayed year after year, it was kind of silent in the music
business back then.

Bella: I have almost the same view. Kids were born, the pandemic came. We told our booker/manager that we wanted a pause in 2020 because I was going to have a baby. So we went on a waiting list for gigs. It was 2022 or 2023 when the waiting was over and we wanted to change labels and release a cd that made it possible for our manager to book us gigs. Because we didn’t want to release songs and waste them if we didn’t have the opportunity to play gigs! And because we played a lot of big festivals in 2016 and 2017, we knew we would need to release something new to get those big festivals again!

Tobias: One kid came before the pandemic, and we knew it was going to be some time that we couldn’t play or record songs. So we were prepared for that, and then the pandemic came! So when we were mentally and physically ready to do band stuff again, the pandemic hit us! We lost a little bit of hope of doing this ever again. I didn’t write any songs for the band for maybe 2 or 3 years. I felt unhappy when I thought about the band. It was some tough years. Even though we live so close to each other we barely saw each other for 2 years. And when the pandemic was over, we weren’t sure if we were going to do this anymore. We didn’t have any leads. Where should we go with this? But then we met and decided to finish up this record and release it! But it took a lot of years to get back on our feet! It wasn’t a decision, it just happened.

Jonas: Somehow we lost the spark!

Bella: We had played together so long now, I realized we get the energy from our live gigs! When we do live gigs we want to record music, we want to do merch, we want to do a lot of stuff! Live gigging is our soul energy, and when we don’t do live gigs, we lose our energy. Years without live gigs sucked a lot of energy out of us! I love live gigs, and it feels like our band needs live gigs to know where we’re going! So I think that was a big problem with the energy, when we don’t do live gigs we don’t know what we’re doing!

Jonas: It’s funny, when the pandemic hit, my first thought was “Oh, we’re going to be SO creative, we’re going to record SO much music, we’re going to have 3 albums ready when the pandemic is over.” But none of that happened.

Tobias: We did nothing!

Jonas: We did absolutely nothing. It was so sad!

Bella: But we got a lot of anxiety that we could use! (laughs)

SL: How much can you say about the label change from Repo to Progress Productions?

Tobias: I think we can say as much as we needed a change! We love the guys behind Repo records who released our first 3 albums. They are super good and nice. We felt during the hiatus when nothing happened that we needed a fresh start, we needed to be Me The Tiger 2.0! And we felt that Repo couldn’t really give us that at the moment. We knew that Torny from Progress was doing a lot of great stuff. We didn’t actually know him, we had met him on tour, but didn’t know him personally. We reached out to him and asked if he was interested in releasing our music and working with us, and he said yes almost on the spot! He can give us something else. He is more progressive thinking like the label name. He thinks more about the digital markets. Loosening the frame around releasing an album with 12 songs. With Torny you can discuss what is best for us, not what the market is asking for!

Bella: For me, when we played in Germany in 2022, we met Torny and a lot of other Swedish bands that had gone there together, and I noticed that they all knew each other, and we were not a part of this family. Because of the pandemic years, I felt that we need to join a music family to get some support. It was obvious they got energy from each other! I got interested in Torny and Progress because of being part of a community of synth bands form Sweden!

Jonas: We are forever grateful for the work Repo has done with us, and believing in us in the beginning!

Tobias: Without them nothing would have been possible!

Jonas: Understanding our background, we don’t know anyone in the synth genre. It’s kind of nice having a family we could not only rely on, but get inspired by! We met a lot of Swedish bands while playing abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, and they’ve always been such nice people! And like Bella said, being a part of that community, I think it’s going to inject more energy to Me The Tiger in the future!

Bella: We still have scars from this period between our albums and the pandemic, so we need to be a bit cared for. (laughs)

SL: The new album “Envy” is only 8 tracks. How did you settle on this length for the new release?

Tobias: That is one of the main things why we felt we needed a change with the label. I don’t know how other genres are, but in synthpop there are many unwritten rules. You have to follow a line, and to release an album that is short is maybe not the correct way to do it. When we presented the album for our label they said we need 2 or 3 tracks more or we can’t release it. We felt, seriously who listens to all the songs on an album that is 12 or 15 tracks long? No one is. Yeah, maybe if it is really, really good. We 3 talked about it, and none of us are listening to an album that is so long anymore, you lose interest. Many of the songs on those albums have a lot of filler, songs that shouldn’t be released. I don’t say our 8 songs on this album are perfect, but it’s the best we can do. But if we had to squeeze in another couple tracks just because, no, that’s not the way we want to release music. Maybe in the future we’re going to release EP’s
with 4 or 5 songs. Because it keeps the creativity alive. I think 8 tracks is the perfect amount of songs!

Bella: It felt like when we recorded the album, “Now we’re done!” We’re going to release this, and then we want to record more. The cake is baked!

Tobias: When we’re going on tour, we’re never going to play the whole album. We won’t even play all 8 songs in one show. So if we have released 15 songs, some of the songs you’re never going to play live, so why release music that you’re never going to perform live? For me, it loses the whole point of releasing music if you don’t even want to play it live. We put so much energy and time in writing and recording the songs. We see ourselves mainly as a live band. We only record albums to come out and play!

SL: You have made music videos in the past. Are there plans for videos for the new album, besides the lyric videos? What are your thoughts on music videos?

Jonas: I think 10 years ago the official music videos were quite powerful from a marketing standpoint. Nowadays you don’t watch music videos like you did 10 years ago. It is a costly thing to make a video if you want it good. Of course you can record something with your iPhone, and make a video quite easily, but I don’t see the point anymore. On the contrary, I actually love making music videos. I love music videos as an art form, because it tells more about the content of a song than just the audio. I’m super proud of all the videos we’ve done since the start. We had the privilege to work with super talented students at the University to make good videos for us. But nowadays, we don’t have either those connection or the finances needed to make a high-quality video.

SL: You have some notable festival shows coming up, including SubKult, Solitary Experiments 30 th anniversary show, and Progress Productions 20 th anniversary show. What are your thoughts on smaller shows vs large festivals?

Jonas: For me, and I think I speak on behalf of all the band, if it’s 2 people in the audience, or 20, 200, or 2000, it doesn’t matter. It gives us that injection of energy that really is in the DNA of Me The Tiger. We are a live band! Of course, we record music, but we record music to play live. That’s where we really shine. I love how our album sounds, but I love how we sound live even more! And I think what our fans enjoy the most is to watch us play live. Tobias: I agree. For me, what I prefer, I would say playing in a festival is something special. I love festivals myself. My first festival experience was as a teenager, and I had the opportunity to see so many bands in the same weekend! The whole environment, it’s stages, it’s people, it’s parties, it’s happiness for a long time! A concert can be fantastic, but it maybe lasts for 2 hours and it’s over, but the festival experience goes on for days and days! When we play at festivals, I feel the same energy in my body as an artist as I feel when I go there as an audience member! There is so much going on in the same place! A lot of bands to talk to, a lot of people to connect with. When you play on a festival, those who like your music will come and watch your show, but you have the opportunity to reach out to so many new people who had never heard of you, which we have experienced as a pretty unknown band.

Belle: I like to play on festivals that have more than us, that are the synthpop band. If it’s a synth festival, it is really fun because we usually have new people that haven’t heard us before. But when we are playing a festival that has a lot of diversity in the type of bands playing, it’s not an equally good experience, because maybe they don’t like the music. My experience is that if people stay and listen to us they will come up after the gig and say “I don’t normally listen to this type of music but you were awesome!” It’s harder on the festival with big artists that are mainstream to get the people to come to us because they don’t know us and they have so much to choose from.

Tobias: When we play festivals in Sweden, there are very mixed genres, from hard rock to radio pop to death metal. But if you go to Germany or other European countries, there are often genre specific festivals, so it’s easier to reach out. If we’re talking about Swedish festivals, it is almost every time a pain (laughs).

SL: How does Sweden continue to produce such a large amount of talented bands and musicians?

Jonas: There is a quite easy answer for this. We have 2 parts in the Swedish music wonder: The first one is the music schools. The second one is the non-formal adult education programs we have here. You can get a rehearsal room for free. You can rehearse with borrowed instruments for free.

Bella: You can play your first live gigs and festivals for free.

Jonas: You can get good gigs all over Sweden for free. And this is the Swedish model that nowadays is being hunted from the right-wing parties. They are into reducing the finances to the non-formal adult education societies that we have in Sweden. And probably the Swedish music wonder won’t be the same in 5 to 10 to 20 years. It is because of those programs that allows people to learn how to play together in a rehearsal room from a very young age. Sweden

has been the best country for doing that for a very, very long time! But that will probably stop due to the right-wing parties.

SL: What are the plans going forward for Me The Tiger?

Jonas: We are going to record a new album soon, that’s my feeling!

Tobias: Hopefully we don’t take another 7 years to put it out! (laughs)

Bella: And also new merch!

Tobias: And new live shows, of course. Probably not more this year than the ones already booked, but hopefully next year we will play a lot more than we will this summer. And hopefully we will come to play in the USA! I’ve been there on other occasions, and there are so many great scenes and cities and people that I would like to see again!

author avatar
Bernard - Side-Line Staff Chief editor
Bernard Van Isacker is the Chief Editor of Side-Line Magazine. With a career spanning more than two decades, Van Isacker has established himself as a respected figure in the darkwave scene.

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