Interview: El Perro Del Mar
El Perro del Mar plays the late show at Joe's Pub with Lykke Li this Wednesday, May 7th (sold out) and again at Bowery Ballroom on Thursday, May 8th (sold out).
"I was grieving a person that had left, someone who had always been very close to me that was gone. And I think, for the very first time in my life, I was really asking myself the question of 'Is there anything left?' Or, 'Is there anything following at all?'
On a mid-April Saturday (afternoon in New York, evening in Gothenburg), we're mere days away from the release of From the Valley to the Stars, the follow-up to El Perro del Mar. For inside the Valley, Sarah Assbring, the Swedish woman behind the EPDM curtain, purposefully ponders life and death, whether or not there's a god and whether or not there's a heaven. You know, some fairly solemn shit even if you do live in the land of long, long winters.
But the mere 20 minutes remaining on our international calling card pays our conversational seriousness no mind, so we've got a long way to go and a short time to get there.
I read an interview a little while ago--maybe even while you were still recording--that implied you were aiming for something a little more thematic than the last album.
SA: Definitely, yeah.
Do you remember the trigger that suggested Valley was the right direction? Do you remember the moment when you decided this was a good idea? Are you, by any chance, staring up at the sky?
SA: I think there definitely was a moment of looking up in the sky and asking myself all these kinds of different questions, but the questions themselves had very much to do about life and death, and they were very linked to looking up to the sky. I think that was the trigger. And from then on it just went from naturally having the only wish of doing that conceptual piece.
Obviously the sky's a major player here, but it's not only a literal concern, like, 'Hey, I see some stars and there's the moon over there,' but also figuratively in that heaven's supposed to be somewhere behind those clouds.
SA: Exactly. It's exactly what you're saying. It's the kind of the perpetual image that we people, like from the very beginning of time, seem to have this symbolic idea or wish for a comforting place somewhere above the clouds.
I don't know how much you get to watch American baseball, or even whether you would watch baseball if you could, but many Catholic ballplayers, often Latino players, cross themselves before they bat. And then if they reach base they'll cross themselves again, kiss their fingers and point up to the sky.
I'm not sure where I was going with that.
SA: No, that's kind of beautiful because, I mean, for me it's a kind of a pretty image because it is very much kind of hinting to any kind of religious belief system. Any kind. And the whole work with the album personally ended up with me in some kind of like universal, very human kind of original need for just some kind of answer and some kind of comfort when you're in need. And to me it's like the most, just very natural kind of thing. I thought that maybe I was looking for something that was kind of, you know, religious or spiritual. And I was maybe, but it wasn't linked to any belief system in that kind of sense. It only ended up with a very just basic idea of something, a comforting idea.