If you are looking for two women who define the title ‘ladyboss,’ look no further than Stockholm’s Sophia Englund and Susanna Friberg – SHARKS. My first introduction to Sophia and Susanna was three years ago while speaking to a producer friend who said to familiarize myself with their name – he expected them to be big. And since then they have not let his word down. This duo has worked with some of Sweden’s music elites while staying true to themselves – no easy feat in an industry who still has a bit of trouble processing the fact that women are capable of creating and playing music (re: my reaction).
So first things first, tell us a little about you two! How long has each of you been in music? Why did you two get into music?
Music has really been a central part of our life while growing up, so since forever. It’s always a safe place to express feelings and reflect and to also never feel alone. Whatever emotion you’re carrying you will get them acknowledged in music and lyrics.
When we were kids we used to lock ourselves in our rooms and perform in front of the mirror. For me, Susanna, it was all about Aqua, Pink and No Doubt the early years. I wore my red feather boa and felt like a million bucks! It was all about performing and singing in my loneliness. With five siblings and some of them into music I never gave in to competing so I just didn’t find my way until I met Sophia.
Sophia, on the other hand, tried a few instruments, she has a hidden talent in playing the flute, but never fell in love.
We met in Swedish high school and didn’t quite hit it off right away. We were total opposites if you were to look at us. Sophia in her pearl earrings and super blonde hair that was always freshly curled in the morning – the reason she was 3 hours late to class every day. And me in my skater shoes and baggy pants. So no wonder as teens we didn’t give each other the proper chance to get to really know one another. I left for the states for a year and that’s when we caught an interest in each other after discovering that we both had really awesome music blogs and shared the same taste in music. Meanwhile, in Florida, my dad snuck me into a club (as 17 y/o) and I got to know the DJ. I was already curious to try it and just a few days later he took me in and let me try his decks. What a feeling! I was totally high on this. He gave me a DJ book and some records for me to get started. I shared my experience with Sophia and as I came back to Sweden we both turned 18 (the legal age of clubbing/drinking here) and we had one goal in sight. We managed to get into the best clubs of Stockholm and were glued to the booth just listening and observing ”What are they doing?” After just a few months we did our premiere gig at a big club without knowing shit really. We were scared and everything that could go wrong did. After that, we came back once a week and played till 5 in the morning, went to some afterparty then straight to school. The adventures we had!
I think I know the answer to this, but for everyone else, what did your ‘break’ in the industry look like? What do you wish you would have known then that you know now?
How do you know you had your ’break’? We have high set goals and feel like we are just getting started, haha. But yeah surely we worked with grand people like Max Martin and Svidden and that is just unreal to even be given an opportunity like that. A big moment was when I randomly heard our song ’Wait’ on iHeartRadio on a Saturday morning while driving down the street. We never got the memo it was playing in the states until right there and we were the song after Katy Perry. Unreal!
Some things we learned after 7 years in the industry is to always listen to your gut feeling and feel safe. It can be very complex working with a lot of people and for a project to blow up before everyone’s ready.We have learnt to take our time and not jump on everything that sounds like a good idea. It will happen when the time is right. We also forgot about having fun a few times, now we remind ourselves to always have fun. If something doesn’t feel good it’s probably not for us.
I just need to say how lucky we are to have each other! It’s really a rough business and sometimes it’s easy to wonder how much longer you can go on. I just know I wouldn’t have without Sophia. She is the one I always know I can trust and know to have my back if the shit would ever hit the fan. Haha! So no worries, there is no stopping!
I love love love asking this question because I find the answer so incredibly interesting. How do each of you define success, whether it be in your careers or in life in general?
Success is actually a word we don’t use much or even think about! Maybe success is that place between a peacefull mind, working your ass off and loving it.
Ok, we will try to explain something here, it’s a very blurry thought to get into words but we’ll try. For life in general, we would define success as to being satisfied, we would love to just be satisfied. Some days we would love to live a simple life working someplace ordinary and just be happy and secure. But we know we will probably never function like that, We will always strive for more and try to reach our dreams. It might be the end of us cause this life is very uncertain but also exciting and fun. You got to take the good with the bad, it’s possible it can take us to where we want and hopefully there we will reach our mental success of being satisfied.
Interestingly enough, you two are the first gals that I have interviewed for GGM. So, of course, I am going to ask some pertinent questions! How do you think the two of you are viewed as females in this industry? What are some of the challenges you two have faced because of your gender?
In the beginning, it was almost a challenge we gladly accepted, like “yeah, you don’t expect we know shit but it’s ok just watch.” As time goes on it’s just an old bore. People of 2016 come ooooon equality!
Unfortunately, I think some men still view women, and us, as something you don’t have to take seriously. We some days find ourselves feeling being less taken seriously depending on what we wear for example. It’s awful that this has to be a thing and we refuse to be controlled by it.
Sexual harassment is also something we have to deal with. Men exercising their power positions or their non power positions and instead create it by grabbing or whatever they can think of. As this happens you start to see a pattern in how you get treated as a female and also how so much of this behaviour gets by because it’s so ’normal’ it can be hard to identify. We clap our hands to all men who are willing to listen and work with us. We are sure nobody really wants this for eachother.
Okay. I am a big branding nerd – can you tell us about how the name ‘Sharks’ came about? What do you want people to think of when they think of you two?
First of all, we just need to hail the sharks! They are very misunderstood creatures and there might have been a time we could connect in this.
Haha but we have many stories around this! Some are true and some are not. But one fun fact about the word is – Shark in Swedish spells out Haj which is pronounced ‘High.’ So we are Sharks living our Hajlife. Got it?
Next Q! What is a live Sharks show like? What should fans come to expect from the two of you?
Its one big circus, with us as the only living creatures of course! We love to express ourselves with good, and not so good, moves, lipsync, singing and beatboxing (not in a good way). You don’t know how happy you are that we don’t have a microphone in our hands all of the time! Haha when we do we have to pull ourselves together. These strong feelings and adrenaline don’t always have the nicest sound to it! Now you know!
There are no rules in our DJsets. We wanna make you feel something but also not let you in on all our secrets now ok c u there.
I really like this question as well. How do you two feel about remixes – whether it be of your music or remixes you do for others? I know some artists like remixes being done of their music to see another person’s point of view, and others are not comfortable with their music being touched.
Nononono! We LOVE remixes, sometimes even more than our original. Is that even ok to say?! It’s an amazing way to find and work with other people. Very inspiring to hear other peoples take on it. It’s so cool! It also gives us more to play with in our sets, we just love it!
Let’s talk about what is to come! So what is next for the two of you? What kind of music are we to expect? Anything big? Maybe a world tour coming up? I’m so down for a world tour, btw. I have no clue when I’ll be back in Sthlm so hopefully it’s before my next trip thereeee (or that you two play in Sthlm next time I’m there….).
WOOPWOOP! O we hope it’s super soon! Right now we are focusing on our new sound. It’s like a mix with Drake, coconuts and happy things in a bowl with a little hint of melancholy and superbass. Haha. That’s us! At least for now, this could change a million times before we are ready to let you hear it!
But we think it’s going to be big, it is for us already! We are more comfortable with our voices and have been taking some time lately to find what we want to focus on. There are endless possibilities and that can at times be a little confusing. We know where we wanna go now!
So yeah, obviously we’re doing a Sharks Universe Tour in a while. Also an underwater show.
And last – since this is Wednesday – who is your #WCW?
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