Unmasked: Fever Ray

Karin Dreijer Andersson of Fever Ray

It’s been nearly a decade since Swedish sibling electropop duo the Knife exploded onto the scene, and fans are still waiting for a follow-up to the 2006 album, Silent Shout. While the Knife famously obscure their identities with onstage masks, the band’s frontwoman, Karin Dreijer Andersson, is going it alone on her solo debut as Fever Ray. That’s not to say she’s given up on secrecy entirely: the album and tracklist are still under wraps. The album drops in March, but she teased fans in October with the instrumental version of the track, “If I Had a Heart,” now available—vocals and all—from iTunes.

LUCY SILBERMAN: Why did you choose to take on the stage name of Fever Ray? What’s the significance of this name/title?

KARIN DREIJER ANDERSSON: I held out my hand touching the sound waves of what I had done and it felt like a Fever Ray—a beam of fever.

LS: Had you planned to be a solo act?

KDA: No, it just happened. I plan very little. Things just happen and you can’t control it.

LS: How does your personal musical identity differ from that of the Knife?

KDA: I don’t really know, I work the same way, but on my own. I have same ideas about music as when I’m in the Knife. Maybe it will be clearer when we do next Knife album.

How did you develop your stage persona?

KDA: Fever Ray has yet no stage persona, it’s under development. I try to feel what kind of expression that’s needed, and what feels good to wear onstage.

LS: What about the masks that the Knife wears onstage? Where did that idea come from?

Onstage we simply used old socks and black pantyhose, and cut out new holes every night. I often wake up with ideas, so I think they come from dreaming.

I read that Fever Ray may go on tour in March, to coincide with the album’s release. How do you think your stage persona will differ for this project?

For me it’s impossible to compare the The Knife and Fever Ray. I am deeply into Fever Ray now. It’s such a new character, so I don’t know it well. I have no idea yet what it will look like. I will play more instruments though.

LS: How do you feel your musical and singing style has changed since your first work in the band Honey Is Cool?

It’s the same I guess. I don’t listen to my old records, but, well, maybe there is a slight development since it’s soon 15 years since HIC started.


LS: Why choose to release the instrumental version of the single of “If I Had a Heart” before the vocal version?


KDA: It wasn’t a release, it was just a teaser. A little introduction, so to speak; a little whisper before the bang.

The instrumental version of “If I Had a Heart” was described by bloggers as “perfect Sunday music,” and “a deep sleep spreading over fields and endless oceans.” How would you describe that track?

KDA: “A deep sleep spreading over fields and endless oceans” is a quote from Fever Ray’s website, that’s how I described it. I don’t agree with Sunday music though. It’s more Monday morning to me, the weekend has passed and you have to go back to normal again, but you can’t. Sunday you’re still free.

Andreas Nilsson will direct the video for “If I Had a Heart.” Can you tell us a bit about the concept?

KDA: It will be shot on 35 mm film. And it will contain real humans, or at least close to humans. I can’t tell more, but it will be out January the 6th.

LS: What can you tell us about your Charles Darwin-inspired opera, Tomorrow in a Year?

KDA: Olof and I write music and libretto  from Darwin’s The Origin of Species, his letters and notes, his wife Emma, intelligent design, Dawkins and much more. Once you have started digging, everything relates to the evolution theory. It is very complex, and we’re in the middle of it.

LS: Has Olof been at all involved with the Fever Ray project? What’s he up to these days?

KDA: Nope. He’s making an opera.

After the experience of creating a solo album, do you think you’ll do another one?

KDA: I have no idea what will happen after this.