By this point Emma & Mia Kemppainen know exactly what they’re doing. The Finnish-born sisters have been dealing in their own vibrant brand of electro-pop for over seven years now and have used that time to sharpen and evolve to a point where, as you’ll read below, they feel more confident than ever to take complete control over their sound.
The duo’s current vessel for pop-eccentricity is LCMDF (shortened from the less catchy Le Corps Mince De Françoise) and is a masterclass in fun, feet-to-the-floor pop music. With a new album out very soon and new single ‘Fooled’ already dropped on Helsinki label Cocoa Music we headed to a sweaty Cuban cafe to discuss how stepping back to your roots can be essential to moving forward.
I can hear elements of trap in the new single, is that representative of what you’ve been listening to?
MIA: Yeah I’d say so, Fooled was written two years ago and was the first material from this new batch of releases. It reminded me of Something Golden which we put out in 2009 but also of new music I’ve been listening to, I host a radio show actually where I pick the 12 best tracks from that week. because I listen to a lot of music and follow music a lot.
EMMA: It’s been a really good lesson playing live because when you write songs you just make sure you’re writing good things but with production you have to think about what you want to play every night and what the crowd is going to like. That’s part of the approach.
MIA: Yeah because we were messing around with 90s sounds in our old band Le Corps Mince De Françoise and trying to be really trendy and cool and be in a cool band and play cool shows, but along the way things got artistic in a sense, now we want to make quality music.
Do you still relate to the music you first released?
MIA: we started relating to it again recently. 2011 was when the first album we made came out, in-between we did some other things but it wasn’t a major release like the one we are working on right now. When we were working on the EP in 2012 we tried some different things but now we’re coming back to our origins.
EMMA: I feel like with LCMDF we started so young; Mia was 15 and I was 17 so its just kind of been a public growth in a sense. But at the same time I feel like If you think about the song writing and the lyrics it’s the same thing- we’ve just been working with a lot of different producers. Fooled is the first track which we really we wanted to be in charge of how it sounds and be selfish with how it sounds. So the vision is clearer. The music we’ve made is kind of like my diary in a way, and I think there is still a good message in most of the songs.
MIA: I still relate [to our old material] but musically and aesthetically I think we wanted to get rid of guitar sound that we had.
EMMA: Basically I stopped playing the guitar at somepoint and started producing, so we’d produce together and ended up producing a lot of this new record. That loops back to the control we were saying we wanted to have and allows everything to be crystal clear and have a confident message.
So you had more say over your producers this time round?
EMMA Yeah you just become better at communicating how it should sound, I mean if you’re confident about you vision people want to listen to you because a confident artist is a good one
So where does Berlin come into the equation?
MIA: I live there now, Emma is in Helsinki at the moment but we both go back and forth.
EMMA: I moved there in 2008, we were touring so much there and then started making the record [in Berlin] so eventually I stopped going back to Finland and it became home. But I think it was a good thing to move back to Finland because it’s such a different atmosphere and it’s so easy to get caught up in the whole hippy “I’m an artist” vibe (laughs).
MIA: Berlin is restless, it’s also a real melting pot of culture, especially Turkish. Berlin’s not really German in a way, it’s like Berlin is Berlin and Germany is Germany. So yeah, Finland definitely feels like it has a stronger heritage there. It feels right for us to be split between these two places because while we’re going back to our roots in a way, we’re also re-inventing
Do you play in Berlin much?
EMMA: Well we were there last week actually
MIA: And we play in two weeks again at a Ray Bans party
So does did Finnish culture influence this record? were you working with a Finish team?
MIA: Like, only Finnish people.
EMMA: We’re pretty much playing with a full Finnish team now.
MIA: Yeah because that’s what the French do, it’s what Swedes do; they take the best of what they’ve got and push it out united as a front and that’s what Finnish people should also do, because there’s so much talent but people don’t know how to collaborate or they don’t have enough self-esteem. but it’s starting, it’s happening.
EMMA: Yeah look out for a collaboration with The Rasmus soon (laughs).
One more question, would you rather make people dance, laugh or cry with your music?
MIA: All of them, at the same time.
EMMA: I don’t know what it is about crying but some of the best songs make you want to cry, it shows the deepest emotion I think.
MIA: Those three things actually hit on the Scandinavian vibe a little bit, that bittersweet sounds which I’m a huge fan of. Those songs with minor chords and a major melody is where I immediately try to go when I write songs. Emotional party music (laughs).