Niki & The Dove serve up elusive techno-pop

Courtesy PhotoHaving fun: When Gustaf Karlöf and Malin Dahlström began working together

Courtesy PhotoHaving fun: When Gustaf Karlöf and Malin Dahlström began working together

Some artists stress lyrics in their compositions, others, melody. But Swedish techno-pop duo Niki & The Dove, who play The City this week, focuses on something else: an elusive, ephemeral element that sets their work apart.

“It’s a difficult thing — how to find that spark — but it’s really important for us,” says keyboardist Gustaf Karlöf of his modus operandi with singer Malin Dahlström.

“But the core of a song can consist of many different things — it can be a bassline, a beat, a sound. This spark can be a tiny little thing, and when we write, we are always very cautious about keeping that spark all the way through the production.”

#link_box { width: 150px; height: auto; margin: 0; padding: 0; margin: 10px 20px 10px 0px; padding: 10px; background-color: #fbfade; /* ecru – light yellow */ border: 1px solid #343a25; /* green – for summer arts */ float: left; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; } #link_box img, #link_box a { border 0px; border-style: none; outline: none; } #link_box h1 { margin: 0; padding: 5px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; text-transform: none; color: #8A0808; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 12px; text-align: center; } #link_box h2 { margin: 0; padding: 5px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; text-transform: none; color: #000; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 10px; text-align: center; } #link_box ul { list-style: none; margin: 0; padding: 0; border: none; } #link_box li { margin: 0px padding: 0px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; } #link_box li a { display: block; padding: 5px 5px 5px 15px; /* Padding for bullet */ /* border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; */ color: #000; width: 100%; width: auto; /* height: auto; */ /* border: 1px solid blue; */ margin: 0px; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px; text-decoration: none; } #link_box li a: before { /* background-position: top left; */ } #link_box li a:hover { background-color: #ddd; color: #000; }

Even the team’s first successful collaboration — the thumping, Banshees-brassy single “DJ, Ease my Mind,” featured on “Instinct,” its debut CD  — was a tentative, spark-conscious affair.

They met while they were both writing music for theater and dance productions. Once friends, Dahlström timidly revealed her “DJ” to Karlöf and asked him to produce it.

Listening to playback of the results, Dahlström was stunned.

“We were like, ‘We found something here!’” she says. “We thought it sounded so great that we wanted to just listen to it, over and over again. Very, very loud.”

At that time, two years ago, there was no plan for a Niki & The Dove. “We didn’t know we’d ever do this full time — we were very much in the flow, and just having fun,” says Dahlström, who now co-pens everything with her bandmate. “But at the same time, I must say, to have so much fun doesn’t mean that you’re not being serious about something. When we work on our music? Me and Gustaf are dead serious.”

It’s an unlikely pairing.  Karlöf despised his piano lessons as a child, but wound up touring the world in punk and heavy metal bands. Dahlström, meanwhile, was haunted by a childhood memory of forgetting the first song she had written on a recorder, so she learned to instantly memorize melodies.

Once Karlöf  heard her sing, he had to meet her. Post-“DJ,” they began writing more material, like “The Drummer” and “Mother Protect,” and then realized they had formed a band.

Now, concerts from Niki & The Dove (not a Prince reference) include exotic costumes and backup dancers.

But everything still boomerangs back to the song: “We try to keep a distance from the material and take a step back to see if it still has the spark that it began with,” Karlöf  says. “And if it doesn’t? We have to start all over again.”

artsGustaf KarlöfmusicNiki & The DovePop Music & Jazz

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The charismatic Adarsh Gourav, left, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas star in “The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani’s adaptation of the novel by Aravind Adiga.<ins> (Courtesy Netflix)</ins>
‘White Tiger’ takes in-depth look at India’s caste system

‘Identifying Features’ depicts human effects of Mexico’s drug wars

A health care worker receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
City sets ambitious goal to vaccinate residents by June

Limited supply slows distribution of doses as health officials seek to expand access

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive at Biden's inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021, in Washington, DC.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden issues call for ‘unity’ amidst extreme partisan rancor

‘I will be a president for all Americans,’ he says in inauguration speech

MARIETTA, GA - NOVEMBER 15: Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff (R) and Raphael Warnock (L) of Georgia taps elbows during a rally for supporters on November 15, 2020 in Marietta, Georgia. Both become senators Wednesday.  (Jenny Jarvie/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Vice President Harris swears in senators Padilla, Warnock, Ossoff

New Democratic senators tip balance of power in upper legislative house

President Joe Biden plans to sign a number of executive orders over the next week. (Biden Transition/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)
Biden signals new direction by signing mask order on his first day in office

President plans ambitious 10-day push of executive orders, legislation

Most Read