Sweden is known for producing a number of successful pop acts, and the country should be proud of its newest export, Those Dancing Days.
The five teenagers, who grew up in a well-heeled suburb of Stockholm,have taken advantage of a government-sponsored scheme to provide instruments and recording space at pocket-money prices. They released their EP last year and have released their debut album In Our Space Hero Suits.
"It's the feeling we have," says Linnea Jonsson, the 18-year-old whose distinctive voice gives the band their Northern Soul edge, of their choice of album title. "It feels really good now we've released our album. It feels like we're on the top and we can do anything, so we're in our spacesuits," she explains, and the five girls laugh at the image.
They say the album is a document of their youth; the earliest songs featured on it were penned three years ago. That's not so long ago, but when you think two of the band, all aged 18 to 20, have just finished school, that period marks a transitional stretch of their lives. Those Dancing Days immediately enjoyed attention in their hometown for being an all-girl band in their teens and for the instant appeal of their bubblegum-sweet pop – such as their eponymous single and "Hitten", but at their favourite arty café in Stockholm they quickly reveal their many layers.
They point out that in Sweden most new bands get overlooked in favour of established acts. But with an acclaimed album under their belts comes a new confidence; they have proven themselves beyond the initial hype of their first EP. It's inevitable that the band's set-up has played a part in their growing success, which has seen them sign to UK indie label Wichita and play headlining tours in Britain.
Their self-taught guitarist Rebecka Rolfart ponders: "We are so unique. There are not many, I hate to say this but... young girls making music." Jonsson is quick to add: "There are not a lot of young girls making original music. I think our music is original." It is an essential point. In a male-dominated industry inundated with all-boy indie-rock bands, it is one thing to be noticed for being all girls, but another thing altogether to be regarded for the music they are creating. How do they feel when people describe them as a girl band?
"When people describe our music they always compare it to other female artists or bands like Sugababes. It's like, what?" Rolfart laments. "We do make popular music, but it would be nice if they listen to what we are doing." You only have to look at the band's name, which they took from a Led Zeppelin song, to get the idea – and they cite The Cure, Shout Out Louds and The Smiths among their influences. Rolfart claims Johnny Marr as her main influence. "There are more similar bands with boys," drummer Cissi Efraimsson says, "because we write our own songs. We are not a product." It was possibly not the smartest move to bandy around a picture of themselves wearing Spice Girls masks, then, even if it was meant to be ironic. They explain that the picture was taken in jest, for a friend to put on their MySpace site, but then journalists found it. Lisa Pyk, responsible for their catchy keyboard hooks, recalls: "But then everyone went oh they're like Spice Girls. Are you also manufactured like that?" Bassist and Led Zeppelin enthusiast Mimmi Evrell adds: "It's funny – in the beginning everyone was like, 'A cute girl band. Oh they're manufactured, they're so put together'."
"People often ask us if we write our own songs," says Jonsson. They burst into peals of incredulous laughter. Wide-eyed, Pyk says: "The thing that makes us angry is the people who say 'they're good for being girls. They're not that good musicians, but what can you expect from a girl?' But that was before. Now we've proven we're better than that."
So what do they make of other female artists? Efraimsson, who for her tiny frame packs a feisty punch into her drum playing, seems to have given the feminist debate the most consideration. "Most women artists think they will be more successful if they play on sex. I think it's good we don't show so much skin," she says. It's true: onstage, in photos and even in person, each member wears their individual style proudly and their musical tastes vary as much as their appearance.
Instead of creating a special image, they make a point of being themselves. Jönsson says: "Bands play on being cool and we don't, we just play for the music and to have fun."
They have noticed a number of young girl musicians contacting them on their MySpace site to say they have been inspired by their music. With Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears examples enough of troubled female singers, perhaps Those Dancing Days can offer young women wanting to break into the music industry a new role model. Efraimsson agrees wholeheartedly. "I think we make good role models because we are just ourselves and don't try to be anything. And also I think it's important to show that just because you are girl artists you don't have to take your clothes off."
Those Dancing Days' album 'In Our Space Hero Suits' is out now on Wichita; the band tour the UK from 23 to 30 November (www.myspace.com/ thosedancingdays)Reuse content