It’s been a love- and romance-soaked year for Johan Angergård. This summer, the Swedish musician released a sentimental collection of electro-pop tunes called It’s Love under his solo moniker, The Legends. Now with singer Karolina Komstedt, he’s returned with his Club 8 project to further tease out thoughts on the dense topic.
Their newest release, Pleasure, unspools with an unhurried grace. Although Angergård stages his autumnal musings against production so shiny you can almost see your own lovelorn reflection in his beats, he offers up no easy resolutions—just the sense that love is a universal condition, and we’re all in it together.
Ahead of Pleasure’s release on Labrador Records, we joined up with the musician for a conversation about love, heartache, pop and (what else?) sex, baby.
: Another year, another album, another chance for us to chat. Congratulations! Err…about the album, not having to talk with me again.
Johan Angergård: [laughs] Thanks! I’m really happy with Pleasure. I think it feels luxurious in a way. We’re always a little bit different ever time, with Club 8. But this time I think we’ve taken it to a new level. I think it sounds great and expensive in a way I really like. I listen to it a lot. For me it’s interesting. It’s a nice travel going from song one to song eight. Cohesive. I always think the latest is the best, but this one when I look back on it in 10 years, I think this album will be my favorite. I listen to it a lot.
: That always makes me happy about you—that you admit that you listen to your own music.
Angergård: Well, some things more than others. Some things, when I go back to them I notice that they weren’t so great. Like The Legends’ Public Radio. There are a few songs in that one, I don’t remember why I recorded those.
: Is Pleasure your “love sucks” albums? Some of these songs seem really dark.
Angergård: I don’t think so. It’s still a new thing, me writing about love and things like that. I have my long period of not doing it. With the Legends’ last album It’s Love, it was more about falling in love and all the anxieties about that. Now it’s more about—well, it’s not love sucks, but finding the negative aspects of love.
: I’m looking at the titles here. “Love Dies,” “Jealousy Remains,” “Promises We Were Never Meant to Keep.” I’m feeling a little bummed out just reading that.
Angergård: I always write a song, and then when I write it I’m telling the truth, but it’s not the general idea of what I think of relationships and love is all the time. “Jealousy Remains,” if you take a song like that, you can have strong emotions for a person, but you don’t feel love in that particular moment. You feel something very strongly like jealously and other negative emotions. In that way you feel strongly attached to a person. But all the glittering nice emotions are not always visible. “Promises We Were Never Meant to Keep” is more a song about looking back on past relationships. My previous relationship. Everything is not about just today.
: When was the first time you fell in love?
Angergård: In first grade, when I was seven or something. I wonder where she is today. She has way too common of a name. I’ve been trying to look her up on Facebook, but you can’t in Sweden when everyone has the same name.
: When was the first time you had your heart broken?
Angergård: I think that was a long time after that. When I was about 20 years old. I don’t remember being heartbroken before that. When me and Karolina were kids and we were together, she was the one that broke up with me. I was heartbroken that time.
Oh, now I’m remembering more. One girlfriend, I went away traveling for three months. And when I came back she was with another guy. She hadn’t told me on email. I just got back and she said, “Oh, I’m with another guy now.” That didn’t feel so great. I was a little bit heartbroken because I had been away and longing for her for three months. Eventually she fell in love with me, because a few months later we were together. And then we were together for many years. It was a happy ending.
: Unpack the song “Love Dies” for me.
Angergård: That was the start of the album. I think it’s a good way to start it, when you hit the certain spot and get into a certain emotion. This is a world of emotions and sounds that I want to continue exploring. On the other hand, the album, I wanted to make it both personal and distant at the same time. Very dear and honest emotions. But performed where you keep a little distance. “Love Dies” is a ballad and it’s quite emotional. But it’s quite electronic and cold-sounding. I like that mixture. I think it fits the album theme quite well.
: Almost clinical.
Angergård: Exactly. Examining pure and strong emotions through the looking glass.
: Here’s the big question. Do you feel like you’re objective enough to do that in your own life? Be detached?
Angergård: No. I don’t think I can do it in a detached way. Maybe I just sound slightly detached.
: If you could do that, you’d be a superhero.
Angergård: That would be too much. Things work in opposites. With the Legends’ It’s Love I wanted to do everything without a clinical way of seeing things. Without any filters or anything. It’s very sentimental. A lot of the time, I have huge problems with sentimental music. I have problems with music that sounds like guys just whining about things. “Oh poor me!” I hate that. It’s a thin line between being honest and a bit sentimental, over to the other side where you’re just staring in a mirror, feeling sorry for yourself.
: That’s not just a musical struggle, that’s a life struggle, I think.
Angergård: Maybe it is.
: What’s the overall emotion for you here?
Angergård: They’re not sad love songs. I don’t think they are. It’s more withheld desperation in the songs. Lots of longing for things. But held-back emotions. Things under the surface. There’s not a total lack of hopelessness in the songs. For example, “Promises We Never Meant to Keep.” That song sounds a bit sentimental in a way, I guess. But it’s more about acceptance. Some things are not meant to be. It’s really sad, but it’s not meant to be. So just leave it.
: Tell me about “Kinky Love.” I feel like this might be the first time you’ve ever written about sex.
Angergård: Yeah. Which makes it a harder song to talk about!
: I just wanted to hear you blush.
Angergård: Lucky we aren’t running video. I think it’s one of my more obvious sex tracks. It’s really very straightforward. It’s about longing for things that the person you’re together with doesn’t want to do. [laughs] It’s about wanting to be a bit more explorative. Oh wow, this is an awkward conversation. But if I’ve written the song, I have to stand up for it. I have various ideas—nothing too twisted, so don’t get any pictures in your head. I have various ideas that me and my girlfriend can do. At one point she said to me, “Can’t we just have ordinary sex?” That line from her, that’s the start of this song. Don’t get any ideas; I wouldn’t go to a swinger party. I just wouldn’t fit in. [laughs] Not that.
: How about an easier question? How did this group of songs end up being named Pleasure?
Angergård: That’s the sex aspect, actually! [laughs] There’s the side of pleasure that you’re not so comfortable with it. There’s a bit of irony in it, I guess.
: It’s never straightforward, is it?
Check out an exclusive premiere of Club 8’s “Skin” in the player below.