Before we start we need you to do one thing. Listen to Come To Me. If you ask me, that song encapsules almost everything you need to know about Koop Islands.
After just a few seconds your’re in two completely different places at the same time. Come To Me is the point where the Swedish summer solstice meets a Caribbean christmas. It’s where the sweetest melody ever swings easy on a faraway beach where Santa Clause handles the steel pans. Welcome to Koop Islands. A place where music and life swing to a slightly different drum.
It’s been several years since we last heard from the Stockholm based duo of Oscar Simonsson and Magnus Zingmark. Their album Waltz for Koop (2001) slowly but surely found its way into the hearts of more than 160.000 record buyers across the globe. Then followed the world tours, the two sets a night at the Blue Note in Tokyo and lots of remixes, until finally last year they found themselves back in Stockholm able to begin work on what was to become Koop Islands.
Where Waltz For Koop was steeped in a modern – and modernist – take on 60s jazz and swedish songstressess from the time (Monica Zetterlunds name was mentioned more times than the group thought was fair), Koop Islands has – despite its name – very little to do with romanticising the Stockholm archipelago. Rather, it goes much, much further south west, all the way down the caribbean for inspiration. That’s where you’ll find Koop Islands on their imaginary world map.
Also, Magnus and Oscar realised that sometimes the only way forward is to go as far back in history as possible.
"I think we can do that", says Magnus. "Our music is created in a post-sampling world where everything is possible. Even time travel. That’s why we just laugh if someone calls what we do retro."
So back they went. Back to the swing of the 1930s, the exoticism of forgotten orchestras and entertainers performing on late 40s yacht cruises to Jamaica. The characteristic Koop vibes now joined by marimbas, furious gene krupaesque jungle drums (just listen to them rip on Forces‚Ä¶ Darling) and an ever present Cape Verdean Blues with just a hint of Mento that would have made islanders in european exile, like the recently salvaged Lord Kitchener & His Friends, nod in approval.
This journey in time and music is what forms the foundation Koop Islands was built on.
"We play jazz", says Oscar. "It’s as simple as that. We can’t do pop, electronica, techno or whatever because we’re just no good at it. Knowing this and having accepted it we can basically do whatever we want. If we wanna explore and pick up pieces from, say, 1929 – we can."
On their travels towards Koop Islands they were joined by their inner circle of friends, some of whom you might remember from Waltz For Koop.
The amazing Yukimi Nagano with her free flowing vocals and her male counterpart – the criminally underrated Mikael Sundin.
Ex-Galliano main man Rob Gallagher (aka Earl Zinger, who released 2 albums on !K7 in 2002 and 2004) tells a heartbreaking tale that weaves together tennis ace Bj√∂rn Borg with the sad story of the passing of a mother.
And, last but no way least, on the album’s title track the norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brun heads out on her virgin tour of the Islands.
Even though Magnus and Oscars hearts and souls are filled with exotic and eclecticly swinging sounds the whole album was recorded in their own tiny studio on Stockholm’s S√∂dermalm. If you listen very carefully you can hear the number 4 bus go by on the snowy street outside.