INTERVIEW | Beverly Kills
Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, this four piece post-punk outfit is set to take the world by storm. With strong visuals (both in photos and videos) and captivating live shows, we were thrilled when they agreed on this interview! Read everything about their collaboration with photographer Jakob Ivar Ekvall, the live music scene in Sweden and why balloons almost ruined the video shoot of "In This Dim Light".
Hey guys, can you give our readers a brief introduction about yourself and your band Beverly Kills?
Four people in our mid-20’s-something, playing our hearts out for anyone who wants to listen. Alma Westerlund on synths/vocals, Hampus Höggren on drums, Viggo Mattsson on bass guitar, and John Jonsén on guitar.
What are you looking for in a photographer? And what do you value the most about the photographers / videographers you worked with in the past?
It has to be a person that we’ll have a fun and creative process with. But it’s equally important that the photographer understands what type of aesthetic we’re going for, so we’re striving towards the same goal. We often have a vision about how the material should look, but we don’t necessarily have the means to do it, so the expertise in a photographer is something we value a lot.
We saw that you often work with photographer Jakob Ivar Ekvall. How did you meet and how would you describe your relationship?
We go way back! John and Jakob used to play in the same band a couple of years ago, and he did all of the photography and videography for them. As a new band, it felt natural to ask the people around us for help. He did our first promo pictures back in 2018, and he’s been with us ever since.
Working with Jakob is bliss. You can leave the tiniest of ideas with him, and watch it grow into something way bigger than expected. He puts in a lot of love into our projects, which is why every one of our photo shoots or video sets are filled with laughter. But he’s always focused and routined at the same time. He’s a professional, simply put.
What makes a good live photo for you?
Close-ups, for sure. Something expressive caught in a soft light. A little bit of movement, but not too messy. Not too much contrast either.
Do you usually bring a photographer to your gigs? How do you decide which gigs to invite a photographer to and which not? Or is it common in Sweden that there is a house photographer or press photographers anyway and you get their pictures?
No, we don’t normally have a photographer with us. We did bring Jakob with us twice though. Once at our second show so we’d have some material of ourselves so we could book more shows, and once when we played Indiefjord in Norway. We knew the nature up there would be something extra and worth capturing. If we would have the budget to bring a photographer on a longer European tour then we’d consider it.
From our experience it’s not very common that the venue has a house photographer, the only exception we can think of is Plan B’s Gianluca La Bruna. When there’s a recurring club night at a venue there’s often a photographer, working for the club. There’s usually a press photographer for a magazine or something at our shows, but it’s very rare that we get to use those pictures for free.
When you're on stage and you know there are photographers at the gig, do you prefer to ignore them or do you even enjoy posing for them?
We never ignore a photographer on purpose, we’re just not the pose-iest of bands. But maybe that will change over time. If the crowd is excited we try our best to interact with them.
Can you tell us more about the creative process behind the photo shoot for the album “Elegance in a State of Crisis”? Who was involved? Who had the idea?
It all started out with a couple of postcards of renaissance paintings that Alma found at a second hand store in Gothenburg. She started to dive further into their origins, and found some weird websites that tried to gather every time a statue of the Virgin Mary cried “blood”. There’s a picture of people witnessing a time when this happened, and she wanted to recreate their reaction as the album artwork.
Since the photo is from the mid-1900’s, Alma tried to find clothes that fit the era. She also bought a house altar and a halo crown that we planned on using, but never did. We took the pictures in a house built late 1800’s to make it feel more accurate. The house, Villa Elfkullen, is an hour away from Gothenburg, and still has all the wallpaper and furniture intact so most of the scenography was already there. Jakob used a Hasselblad 500cm with Kodak T-Max 400 film, so there’s a certain vintage-y feeling to the pictures as well.
We walked around the house trying to find which places would fit the theme, and started to stray a bit from the original plan. Jakob found a corner in the library and arranged us like a family photo, which later became the final artwork. We had several options on the single artwork, such as the altar house on a mantle piece, a ceiling painting of Poseidon, for example.
You seem to go for a different look for each era. Whereas the first singles have a monochrome cover and the “Elegance in a State of Crisis” time was black & white & yellow, you now seem to go for a blue, green analogue aesthetic. Was that a conscious decision or did it come naturally because with time your taste simply changed?
The colours in each artwork is based a lot on how the songs feel. We decided early on that Fourteen felt like a red song. John wanted the five debut singles to have the same layout, but we always discussed how the songs felt colour-wise. We tried to match the single artwork with their respective promo picture as well as we could, like the purple/pink pictures with Dreamless and the green picture with Revellers, etc.
Trophy Hunt is a more playful song than the ones on Elegance, which is why it has more colour. Alma and John went location scouting for some places to shoot the promo pictures to it, and there were a lot of blue and green tiles down at the Liseberg commuter train station a couple of blocks down from our rehearsal space. We didn’t plan for the picture to be blue/green, but the scenery down there felt naturally right. It felt like a piece of hard candy, kind of how Alma envisioned the song in the first place.
Can you share some (maybe never seen before) outtakes or BTS with us and tell us why you picked this image?
This picture is from Gothenburg Culture Festival two years ago, taken by Nikos Plegas. Our old label boss from Australia came to Sweden that week, and we were really excited that he would get to see us live for the first time. That whole week is a great memory for us overall, we had Skyped with him regularly for over a year but getting to meet him was incredible.
We did a live session back in 2019 together with the Swedish magazine Savant, at the Cirkus Theatre in Stockholm. We had done a few live sessions before but in an acoustic take, but we finally got to do a total re-make of a song with everyone in the band. Back then it felt a bit surreal to stand in front of an empty crowd with nothing but cameras. Little bit we know that it would be the new normal for us.
Here’s a picture that Jakob Ivar Ekvall took of Viggo, standing outside the old school we slept in during Indiefjord, with his favourite Norwegian beer in his hand. This picture captures the overall feeling of that weekend. Carefree and happy.
Last but not least: can you share a fun or weird story a photo or video shoot?
There are a lot of unexpected things you do as a band, and to build a huge balloon arch from scratch is one of them.
We wanted to make one for our music video to In This Dim Light, and figured that it wasn’t too hard. But when we came to the location spot, we quickly realized that none of them would work. So we had to watch a balloon arch tutorial on YouTube and learned step by step how to build one properly. It took us an entire afternoon, so we were super proud of it when we left it overnight. When we came back on the first day of set, several balloons had started to leak and the entire arch looked wilted and sad. So we had to start over again. Since the whole production took two days, we were all afraid that the whole thing would fall apart during a shoot. Luckily, with some love and support, it stayed up the entire weekend. And we closed the set by throwing ourselves at it, and popped every single balloon.
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All images (if not otherwise stated): © Jakob Ivar Ekvall