JJ – Where Swedish folk meets Deep South rap
Need To Know
* JJ are planning a mixtape which features the reworking of famous tracks by Dr Dre and Akon
* JJ stands for Joakim and jag (“jag” means me or myself in Swedish)
* Elin’s joint favourite singers are Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan
Ten minutes into JJ’s first ever English interview, and it’s becoming hard to keep a grip of what it is we’re actually talking about. The three of us – NME, 21-year-old singer Elin and 23-year-old production maestro Joakim – are huddled in a bar booth, musing the concept of ‘being in a band’, or rather, ‘not being in a band’. We’re not quite sure anymore.
“I wouldn’t call it a band. It’s like a belief. It’s around you all the time. It just is. It’s bigger than music, music’s just the best way we’ve found of tapping into this place. This energy.”
“It’s a movement,” Elin offers. Now, let’s just click our giant pretentious cliché alarm on snooze for one cotton-picking minute and hear the kids out, OK.
Two childhood escapees from the seedy Stockholm suburb of Vallentuna, JJ aren’t into talking to journalists about their music, or
any of the trappings that usually come hand-in-hand with pop for that matter – naming records, playing live.
Onstage Elin mews – vacant, magnetic – over a vast backing track. Usually a few songs in, Joakim barges through the crowd, theatrically joining her onstage with a warm embrace, only to spend the entire set smoking a fag and shuffling around.
JJ cite an all-consuming pursuit of some kind of mysterious creative utopian state. “I think Lil Wayne’s a rare example of someone who lives and breathes his art,” says Joakim. “He doesn’t know what he’s making because he discovers as he does it. By instinct.” We just thought that was the syrup.
Talking narcotics, it’s that familiar sickly swell of anodyne euphorics and Auto-Tune that have helped garner JJ as many crunk culture comparisons as they have the pastoral Scando-folk that Joakim’s post-everything patchwork production resembles.
“Of the drugs I’ve tried, music’s the strongest for me,” smiles Joakim. “Life should be about exploring ourselves. For us, discovering JJ is how we’ve learned to connect with this higher state we knew was there but couldn’t reach before.”
The only explanation for a shtick like this is that JJ are very much in their own little world. On record you realise that their little world is enormous.