The first time they recorded together—or so the story goes—Swedish pop quartet Sambassadeur (Anna Persson, Daniel Permbo, Joachim Läckberg, and Daniel Tolergård) were too shy to make eye contact. The songs of their self-titled debut reflected this tentative sweetness, as they found their footing across 12 bittersweet folk-pop tracks.
The band’s sound blossomed into an elegant swagger over the two following two albums, Migration and European. Gaining confidence without sacrificing charm, their sonic palate broadened to include orchestral backing and ABBA-like harmonies, united by singer Anna Persson’s wistful, Françoise Hardy-style delivery. Sambassadeur’s first offering in two years, new single “Memories” (out November 20 via Labrador Records), signals yet another change in direction. Gone are the ornate compositions and lush string accompaniment, traded in for a more angular pop style, complete with touches of Motown funk. (Yes, that’s a saxophone you’re hearing.)
We spoke with guitarist Joachim Läckberg, who gave us an insight into the band’s forthcoming full-length, due in late 2013. He also provided us with the premiere of a “Memories” B-side, “Hours Away,” which you can stream below.
HOMETOWN: Skövde, Sweden
CURRENT CITY: Göteborg, Sweden
HIS FIRST MEMORY: I don’t know if it’s my own memory, or things that my sister or parents told me, but when I was three or four years old, I lived on an island. There was a bridge falling apart. That’s one of my first memories, when I saw that bridge. 10 people died. It was a big disaster.
THEIR SERGE GAINSBOURG INSPIRED BAND NAME: A lot of people think that we play samba. That’s quite tiresome. We have to explain how we sound. The initial idea was to name ourselves Ambassadors. But that was already taken. So we had to put an “S” on it.
FACING THE CREATIVE GRIND: We always say after making an album that there’s not going to be any more. One year after writing an album, you don’t have any wish to make music. I’m like that, anyway. It’s always after a year it starts coming back. You start writing again.
FINDING BALANCE: The four of us have got kids in the last two years. That’s why it’s only two songs in the last two years. Now the kids are one and a half years old, so we can start writing music again… From the start, we’ve always thought that it’s not good for the music to work on it full-time. If you work with music 100%, first you may have to do shows that you don’t want to do, and then you start compromising. I think it’s way better to have normal jobs and then write music when you feel like it. I think that’s the best thing for your music.
THE ABBA FACTOR: We’ve always liked complex arrangements. Especially in the start, we didn’t have so much to work with, studio-wise. The first album we recorded in Daniel’s apartment. The latest album, on Labrador, we had the budget for real studios and extra musicians. Now we can do more things like that.
THINKING SMALL(ER): From the latest album, European, we had string quartets and everything. Now, I think we’re experiencing a backlash, as you can hear on the new single. The forthcoming album, I think it will be more electronic and not so much instruments. But the arrangements, I think you can hear that it is Sambassadeur.
NEW ALBUM FOR A NEW YEAR: We’ve done six songs. They’re demos, so we have to, hopefully before summer, May maybe, start recording. Releasing late next year… I think it will be more like traditional rock. More guitars. Maybe a little bit more like the first album. Not so many instruments. Melodies and guitars.
PARTNERS IN CRIME: It would be nice to continue with [producer] Mattis Glavå. We recorded the two latest albums with him… He’s quite well respected in Sweden, so he always has a lot of work to do. Now he’s got an assistant, so he can lie on the couch and scream. [laughs] But when it comes to mixing he starts to work.
TAKE COVER: We always have a cover. On the second album it was Dennis Wilson. The last album was Tobin Sprout. Definitely a new cover on the next album. We have not decided yet.
PÅ ENGELSKA: It would be fun to write something in Swedish. But it’s very hard to write lyrics in your own language. It’s hard to choose words. It’s easier to write in English. It’s a bit more distant.
FUN IN THE SUN: There’s one working title on one song [on the new album]. It’s a very bad name, but it’s called “Beach.” Beach without the Boys. [laughs] That would be a great album name, Beach Without the Boys.
ON HIS SON, THE BAND’S BIGGEST, SMALLEST FAN: I think he thinks [our music is] quite strange, because it’s his mother who sings on it. He recognizes Anna’s voice. He just stares at the iPhone.
“MEMORIES” WILL BE RELEASED NOVEMBER 20, AND SAMBASSADEUR’S NEXT FULL-LENGTH IS DUE OUT NEXT YEAR. FOR MORE ON SAMBASSADEUR, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.