I recently posted “Hey Honey Heaven” from Stockholm’s Violet Cheri and said “This is a tune that shoots for the moon and hits the target. It’s a delightful pop song, with strikingly original vocals courtesy of frontman Daniel Hoff. I love the melody, the lo-fi ambiance, the celebration of weird youth, love, and spending summers dressed in black.”
They’ve had a series of excellent singles and with a debut LP on the way later this year we were delighted when they agreed to do a Q&A for us. The band are Daniel, Kimie, Melker, Robin
and Hugo. Oh, and they’ve got the best answer to “Did you have any strange habits as a youngster?” EVER!!.
Reading your Facebook page you state “We were shaped by pain. There was an anger within us that wanted out… We wanted to prove to ourselves that we were not losers”. Can you elaborate on that a bit more? Do you still feel the same?
Daniel: I formed Violet Cheri because I needed to tell my story. To get everything out of the system. I was always told that I wouldn’t amount to anything from the people around me. School was tough in my hometown, I had to endure a lot of bullying and my family was falling apart due to alcohol abuse.
I had no one to talk to so I started to write. That darkness was the start of it all, the seed that would become Violet Cheri. I still feel depressed to this day and I’ve come to terms with it. It’s more manageable now than when I was 16.
How did you all meet?
Daniel: I’m not from Stockholm originally but Melker and I first met at a festival in 2013. It was a super hot summer and I was the only one wearing a black sports jacket, black jeans and black shoes. At least that’s what I thought ’cause suddenly a drunk guy stumbles up on me. His jacket is torn and held together by duct tape, with a beer in one hand he comes screaming – “Hey you’re also wearing a sports jacket! Let’s be friends”. And we still are. Crazy huh? Doom and gloom. The Swedish way.
Kimie: Me and Melker have known each other since we were kids and has always made music together one way or another. Melker joined Violet Cheri after that whole festival thing you know and in the summer of 2014 they needed a new guitarist and so Melker asked me. I wasn’t really into indie but I’ve never really spent my time on anything besides music so I thought I’d give it a shot. Me and Melker met with Daniel one sunny day at his local pizzeria and bought me beer since I was legally too young to drink and that’s all it took for me to join. All of a sudden I was in love with indie and every night of that summer had beautiful honey heaven as far as I remember. It was probably rainy and shitty but you know us, we’re happy when it rains.
Robin: I joined three years ago. I had met Daniel a few times before as I know his girlfriend, and we were having a few beers outside a concert venue when he mentioned that they were in need of a new bassist. I had heard the old demos and thought they were quite nice, but it was a few weeks later when I caught a live show that I fell in love and decided to join.
Hugo: I heard their music through a blogpost of Popmani and then in 2019 I saw that they were looking for a new guitarist. We met and had a chat and then rehearsed. Later I heard that my try-out rehearsal was really bad sounding but we got along well so I guess it was worth the extra time it took to get me up in shape.
What music are you listening to during this bizarre period?
Daniel: The score to Predator by Alan Silvestri.
Robin: My new year’s resolution is to explore as much Twee pop as possible, so there’s been a lot of obscure twee playlists running the last months. Apart from that, I don’t think that this situation has that much of an impact on how much or what music I’m listening to.
Hugo: Spooky Action at a Distance by Lotus Plaza
Kimie: Timber Timbre
Robin: Actually, to be fair I mainly listen to endless test mixes of the tracks from our album. The mixing process is probably the worst part of recording, it really ruins the songs for you for a brief period.
When can we expect your debut LP?
Robin: No one really knows, but right now it seems like October is kind of realistic. We are just weeks from being finished mixing. This whole LP project has taken a lot more time than we could’ve ever imagined when we started it, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been almost two years since we recorded the drums. But every backlash has made us stronger and more sure about what we want this album to become, and right now we are really proud of the turnout.
Daniel: I hate recording. I really do. It’s been difficult for me doing this record ’cause it contradicts the whole Idea of Violet Cheri. I’ve always used the band as a means to escape. When we rehearse or play live, nothing exists outside those walls around me. I live for the moment and give everything I have. And it’s beautiful really. A place where I can speak my mind without interruption and do whatever the hell I want to do for once. In a recording studio however, there are rules to follow. There are certain ways to do things and that felt alien to me. I usually drink before, under and after a show but in a studio there’s really no way to do that without problems.There’s a time schedule and one minor fuck up will cost you a lot of money. Especially if you’re paying from your own pocket as we have. It takes a lot out of me playing our songs. I get exhausted mentally. But if just one person finds solace in this record then I can die a happy man.
What’s your favourite song that you’ve written?
Daniel: I guess that would have to be ‘My Own Way’. That one means a lot to me. It was basically the first song I ever wrote right after flunking high school. I felt like a failure. I was ashamed and confused. No one ever told me that life was gonna be like that. Seeing all your friends go on with their lives while you’re still stuck by the starting line. That’s really heart-wrenching, you know. But somewhere along the way I got back up on my feet and pushed on. ‘My Own Way’ is one of few songs that makes me feel multiple emotions every time we play it. It’s like a rollercoaster ride between a smile and a broken heart.
What have been your biggest influences?
Daniel: The Jesus & Mary Chain has been a favorite of mine but I find a lot of inspiration through movies and videogames as well.
Robin: We come from quite different musical backgrounds and have a broad taste of music, but we all share a love for Swedish indie bands like Bad Cash Quartet, Niccokick, Popsicle and Broder Daniel. Chaotic but melodic!
Do your parents play golf?
Robin: My dad plays. Tried to trick me into it when I was young, but I managed to resist and chose the music instead. It’s really time consuming and expensive, plus it’s considered kind of bourgeois at least in Sweden.
Kimie: Yeah my dad calls it ”yuppie hockey”.
Can you recommend any other Swedish bands we might not have heard of?
Daniel: Her Majesty, Niccokick, Apati…
Hugo: Saigon, Dead Vibrations.
Robin: … Bad Cash Quartet, Broder Daniel, Laakso etc etc. There is so much great Swedish music we could probably go on forever. When you’re abroad people always mention ABBA and Robyn and similar major artists, but the Swedish music scene is really such a gold mine. A lot of awesome bands sing in Swedish, which might make it harder to reach an audience abroad. I personally think Mankind, Internet Friends. and Skuldpadda deserves more attention out of the contemporary smaller bands.
What song by another artist would you like to have written?
Daniel: Martha by Tom Waits.
Hugo: Gold Star for Robot Boy by GBV.
Kimie: Jesus of Suburbia by Green Day.
Robin: Everything by Doktor Kosmos.
What’s the best phrase you’ve picked up in another language?
Robin: I lived in London a few years ago and my colleague asked me if I wanted to go grab a cheeky half. I just stared at him, having no idea what to respond. It apparently means to sneak out during the lunch break and have a half-pint of beer. Enough to be satisfied but not enough to get caught at work. Just to have a word for that is the very definition of Britain to me.
What question would you like to be asked that you never are and what would your answer be?
Daniel: I’ve always wanted to talk more about who we are as a band. The meaning of Violet Cheri, the background to our songs. More personal questions you know. When your music is autobiographical and has some weight to it, it kind of hurts that no one seems to want to discuss it more seriously. This record, for example, is comprised of 11 songs, all of which more or less follow the same theme of being a teenager. Confusion, loneliness and the feeling that you don’t belong on this earth are all present. And love… I would say that love is present in all of our songs. The longing for something more, you know. Although we like to play around with childish sounding melodies there’s always an honest voice behind it that has something to say. We don’t steer away from the dark. We embrace it and sometimes it’s easier for people to listen to dark things when it’s coated in cotton candy.
Did you have any strange habits as a youngster?
Hugo: Don’t know how strange it is but I used to take the neighbours golden retriever from their yard to the park and cut a small portion of fur of it’s hind-leg so they wouldn’t notice and then save the fur to fill a stuffed animal that looked similar to a golden retriever. My plan was to give it to my youngest cousin but I was caught lifting the dog over my neighbor’s fence one time so I had to stop.
Please tell us a joke!
Daniel: “What is green, has four wheels and smells like grass?” Grass. I lied about the wheels.