This weekend, the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York hosted a free concert to benefit and promote their radio and television station WFIT. WFIT recruited a handful of their favorite bands to play including Nefatari, Action Item, Patent Pending, and Reckless Sons. However, WFIT announced a last minute addition to their bill: Peter Bjorn and John.
Action Item. All photos by Mark Iantosca.
Reckless sons performing at FIT
Heading backstage to meet Peter Bjorn and John. Known fact: the fastest way to look like you should be reporting for a 1940s publication of the Daily Herald World Gazette is to wear a trench coat during all your interviews.
Swedish indie rock band, Peter Bjorn and John, are most quickly recognized for their song, “Young Folks” (you know what I’m talking about…I know you know…it’s that whistle song), which took Fashion Week by storm when Peter Bjorn and John released the song in 2006. Since then, their music has been featured in a slew of licensing deals including the movie 21 and the show Gossip Girl.
Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John
StyleCaster met with two of the three members, Peter Moren and Bjorn Yttling, before their DJ set at the WFIT Sound Off Concert. Sitting in a narrow dressing room with an exorbitant number of chairs and water bottles, a shaggy Yttling welcomed us with kisses and warm handshakes and Moren looks like Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail–who John Eriksson dubbed a style inspiration for the entire band. After declining to record the “Young Folks” whistle as my outgoing voice mail message, Peter and Bjorn talk to us about music, fashion, and New York. Check below for the highlights of the interview and what Peter Bjorn and John had to say…
Peter Moren of Peter Bjorn and John.
On playing live shows:
SC: How did you come to be involved in this WFIT Sound Off event?
Bjorn: We were just hanging out in New York and we just wanted something to do on a Friday night. We are always hang out in the Fashion District. But no, we spin records and DJ. We like music and we like DJ-ing, but we’re not like, 8-track or something–scratching. We just play music we like and try to be inspiring with that.
SC: What is your favorite song to play live?
Peter: The last song is always the most fun song.
SC: Is there any reason why?
Peter: Because then you’re done and you can give something extra. The first song, it is hard to top that one, so we usually save the last song to do something special.
SC: And when you do that, do you save it for your encore or just the last song of the set?
Peter: No, we usually put that song before the encore. The encore is something different.
SC: How do you feel when you play an encore? Do you feel satisfied or do you feel your set was enough?
Bjorn: No, usually we prepare for it the whole day. Sometimes we don’t get to play one because like the German festival, you don’t get to play one. The more you play the better.
On having other musicians (such as Drake and Mick Boogie) remix their songs:
SC: How did you both come to work with the rapper Drake? It’s a clear delineation from your usual genre.
Bjorn: Yeah. Yeah. We played Montreal a couple times and people really like us there. He must have heard us and he obviously liked our record because he started to work on it on his own. We didn’t have much to do with it, but the lyrics are very interesting.
SC: How do you feel when someone remixes your music like that?
Bjorn: Proud and weird and flattered. Someone trying to make something new out of something you made is like getting a massage. Someone is paying attention to you. It’s fun!
Peter: When we got this whole album [by Mick Boogie] of hip hop remixes, I felt like I was kid–like listening to some new music. I was smiling all through the first listen. I had a better feeling than when we finished the album ourselves because…I don’t know…you feel very flattered.
SC: Do you take inspiration from it in making your music kind of hearing people’s interpretation for your sound?
Peter: Yeah. Sometimes I’m like, “Ah! This is how it should have sounded!” I think it was one song, “The Feeling,” they turned it into minor chords and it changed the chords and I think it’s much better that way. And that we didn’t even think about. Often people find stuff that they like kind of mixed.
SC: Things that you wouldn’t have picked up on or done yourself?
Peter: No, we wouldn’t have done that.
On their rise to fame through Fashion Week:
SC: Your song “Young Folks” took over all of Fashion Week in 2006, so do you guys feel any connection to the fashion community? Or do you feel like that was just a really great platform for your song to take off on?
Peter: If we had known that, we might have gone to some fashion shows. We didn’t know about [Fashion Week]; we were just shocked that people were interested in our music at that time because we had just played like Chinese restaurants in Sweden so we didn’t know what fashion was.
Bjorn: I was here during Fashion Week then and there is a lot of drinking going on. Haha! It’s fun!
Peter: These days, we are trying to walk to songs and if you can walk to a song in a good way, then it’s a good song and you can use it…
On their personal style…
SC: StyleCaster loves to promote personal style. Do you guys think you have a certain style or aesthetic that you maintain either onstage or everyday?
Bjorn: Yeah I’m going through the Neil Diamond… His, “almost sober” style. And uhhh, I think John was talking about Jack Nicholson…what’s that movie? [ed: It was The Last Detail]. In Sweden, we all do red pants and also you do the loafers in Stockholm.
Peter Bjorn and John are now embarking on North American tour for the month of November. For a full list of tour dates, click here.