AVENIR IN CONVERSATION WITH LCMDF
Helsinki/Berlin-based band LCMDF, formed of sisters Emma and Mia Kemmpainen, were one of our highlights from The Great Escape. We caught up with them about their beginnings, Beyoncé, feminism and their conflicting views on Kanye West.
Avenir: How did you guys start the band?
LCMDF: We started in 2006, Mia was 15 and I [Emma] was 17. But we've only been "real" musicians for 5 years, at the beginning we were just kids. We used to write acoustic stuff but also listened to electronic music like The Knife and Justice so when we got our first MacBook with GarageBand on it, we started combining GarageBand loops and beats with synth lines and acoustic guitar. We uploaded our crappy demos to MySpace and got a lot of plays and even got a show, and suddenly we had a band. We got booked for more and more shows, we had a lot of different band members and fired them all.
A: What happened to Malin Nyqvist, who was a steady member of the band until 2010?
LCDMF: We were touring A LOT, from 2009 we toured for about three years straight. Some people can't take it, we understand. Touring becomes your life. And Malin had other projects, she does film and animation. We came to a point where we needed to decide if we really wanted to be musicians or not; we decided we did, and she decided she didn't. Emma and I [Mia] also moved to Berlin around that time. Emma moved back to Helsinki three years ago and for that reason a lot of the new stuff sounds like our earlier stuff, which was also created in Helsinki.
A: What have you been up to since your album 'Love & Nature' was released on Heavenly Recordings in 2011?
LCDMF: We made some weird music and released it on our own label, Fan Recordings. It was artistic, meta-level music that wasn't commercially that successful but it was critically acclaimed, we even got a review in Pitchfork! After that we started writing pop songs for other people and now our sound has changed back to electronic power pop, what it used to be like before this more experimental phase. And in a sense this sound has now broken the mainstream, thanks to bands like Icona Pop and Charli XCX, who basically do what we did when we started. We don't feel competitive, we feel more like, "YES they did it, and now we can do it too!" There are so many EDM DJs who do the same thing so why couldn't there be ten bands like Icona Pop? We actually met Icona Pop in Berlin and they said that we were an inspiration for them!
A: That's amazing! On another subject, what inspired your song 'Procrastination 365'?
LCDMF: It's a song that describes life in Berlin, when you feel like you should be doing a lot of things and you end up doing nothing. It's a common feeling our generation gets, there is so much potential but it's easy to get stuck and procrastinate.
A: Who does what in the band in terms of songwriting and production?
LCDMF: It depends, but I [Emma] mostly write lyrics and toplines, Mia does toplines as well and production and we also work with external producers. Now that we live in different places we try and go to the same country to write together, right now we're writing lots of songs for our second album back in Finland.
A: Your song 'Rookie' is a protest against "the dudes who think they're better than [you]". Can you tell us a bit more about the sexism you've encountered?
LCMDF: It's annoying that we even have to talk about it but at the same time it is an actual matter in our lives, particularly in Finland. Abroad we're a random hipster Scandinavian band but in Finland we are a girl band. With 'Rookie' we were trying to say that the society does need to change but girls can contribute to that change by becoming empowered. 'Rookie' is a song for girls to believe in themselves, and think, "You know what, I'm not a rookie, I've done this before!" Sometimes you forget it and get run over by somebody who has less experience but is a dude. It's a song about frustration and empowerment. It's such a current issue, some people call it the fourth wave of feminism, or pop feminism; it's a really good thing but has so many layers, it's hard to address. Positive discrimination can be problematic; are we going to fix to problem [of the underrepresentation of women at festivals] just by creating women-only stages? But we do need feminism, we might need it forever. 'Rookie' is not only for women though, it's for all the underdogs.
A: What's your take on Beyoncé as a feminist icon?
LCMDF: She has a lot of power and she has chosen to use that power to make political statements and statements on feminism; and that's really good. When she had the word 'feminist' behind her on stage, that was an important moment, because some people started thinking about that word and what it meant maybe for the first time. As for the "Lemonade" and "Becky with the good hair" thing that's another story. Media loves to pit women against each other and blame women, even when the women involved didn't do much wrong, because the cheater was Jay Z. We hate that tendency of the media to pit pop singers against each other.
A: How is it to be sisters in a band together?
LCDMF: It's great! We always address any issues straight away, there's no layers. And we work really well together, we complement each other in the songwriting process. If I [Emma] would pick any person in the whole world to make music with, I would probably pick Mia. We both work with other people on the side of LCMDF so we're not dependent on each other to make music, we just like to do it together. It's a family business. There's loads more positive aspects to it than negative ones. If someone doesn't get along with their sibling, they should just try a little bit harder. Like any relationship it's going to take a lot of time and effort to make it work. Don't be a dick, basically. And if you feel like you've been acting like a dick, apologise.
A: What music are you listening to at the moment?
Mia: I make so much music that I can't listen to much at the moment, which is sad, but I do try and keep up with new music. I like Hudson Mohawke, Flume, Alt J – their first album was one of my favourite albums ever – and Kanye West; even if he's being a dick he's pretty talented...
Emma: I don't even like his music, I'm sorry. His song "Famous" is so sexist. Also I watched his interview with Ellen DeGeneres recently and he makes no fucking sense. His thing is saying he's an artist and his art is the best... I'm just like, 'You're not more important than anybody else, you're just more famous.' He could use his status to fight sexism and instead he encourages it. An artist needs to be a full package for me to be a fan. Otherwise I have been listening to a lot of PC Music stuff, I love pitched-up vocals...
A: What is next for LCDMF?
LCMDF: We're making people wait a bit but our next release will sound more like our earlier output, we're hopefully putting out another single this year followed by an album in early 2017. We've been getting a good response to the new material we play live so we feel quite positive about making this happen.
A: We can't wait to hear more, thanks so much for chatting to us!