Sweden’s Urban Cone on Electro Pop, Song Creation & Going ‘Old School’

Urban Cone’s “Old School” promo photo

The Stockholm, Sweden based band Urban Cone composes electro indie pop music powered by lyrics that instantly connect with listeners. You won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing to their imaginative tunes, which combine fast-paced electronic samples, avant-garde guitar riffs and bass lines and bright, upbeat vocals.

Urban Cone is Emil Gustafsson, Rasmus Flyckt, Tim Formgren and Jacob Sjöberg. These talented musicians keep the audience moving and fully immersed in the music during live performances, and show-goers leave in high spirits.

Last month, Urban Cone finished up their North American summer tour with a performance at Bonnaroo Music Festival. They are working on finalizing their upcoming full-length album, which will be out by next year. Listeners should prepare for some hip-hop beats, funky guitar licks and their trademark Swedish pop melodies.

As for their fans who are anxiously awaiting the release of their LP, there is plenty of other music to tide them over, from their most recent single “Old School” to “Sadness Disease” or their hit “Come Back To Me” featuring Tove Lo.

A couple months ago before their North American summer tour, The Pop Break had the opportunity to interview Urban Cone’s Rasmus Flyckt and Emil Gustafsson. We discussed their electro pop sound, their most recent single “Old School,” details about the upcoming full-length album, and what they think is the most meaningful part about creating music.

Photo found on Urban Cone’s Tumblr

So you’re currently on your US Tour right now. What do you like most about touring in the US? What are you most excited about this time around? 

Rasmus Flyckt: We’re just excited to be back here and play some new songs live. We’ve been working on new music for like, forever—the last year and six months. It’s going to be exciting to see the reactions of the audience. It’s exciting to be back on the road.

Your music is feel-good, indie electro-pop powered by honest lyrics that resonate with listeners. What is it about your music that connects to listeners so strongly?

Emil Gustafsson: We were actually talking about that a couple days ago. I think that we hear melodies in a different way because we don’t have the language as good as American people have, since we don’t speak it everyday. So when we write, we write words that sound good to our melodic ear. Maybe that catches on and that’s why it’s so ear-catching for you.

Rasmus: I feel like we experiment more with sounds than a lot of bands out there. We don’t like to limit ourselves to one instrument or just to whatever “fits” in a song. We experiment a lot with samples and we love catchy melodies.

From Our Youth and Polaroid Memories to your most recent single “Old School,” was there ever a time when you felt like you were making a big change with your sound?

Rasmus: Yeah, definitely. When we produced and wrote Polaroid Memories, we wanted to capture our live sound and make that into a record. Then we felt like doing something different and we started from scratch. The first song we wrote together for the new album was “Old School.” The funny thing about that song is that when we started, we didn’t limit ourselves at all. We just wrote a song that we liked. At first it wasn’t considered to be an Urban Cone song, but we just fell in love with its sound and felt like we could do whatever we wanted; we experienced freedom for the first time in the music world. Since “Old School” we’ve just been writing so many new songs and we feel like we can take it in any direction that we want.

Photo found on Urban Cone’s Tumblr

“Old School” is a tribute to the past before we all were glued to our phones and addicted to social media. In what ways does the video display individualism and inspire us to live in the moment, like we used to when we were kids?

Rasmus: In the video, there are a bunch of kids that are dressed up like adults—famous characters. There was something cool about showing kids behaving in an adult way. Now, kids have iPads and they play games. In the video, the kids connect to each other by dancing and playing together, and that theme just feels relevant to us.

What does “Old School” mean to you?

Rasmus: When we wrote it, I think we were talking about Tinder or something. We’re all pretty romantic, we love to do romantic gestures and stuff: we love to cook and we pretty much love everything that doesn’t have to do with phones and social media. We just wanted to write a love song to the past.

I know you’ve been working on your third album, so how’s that coming along?

Rasmus: It’s going really well. We were in Sweden a month ago and pretty much finished the album. We feel really good about it and all the songs are coming together. We’ve been writing for so long, and we have a bunch of great songs. It’s going to be a great album, we just can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Photo found on Urban Cone’s Tumblr

I read that there are elements of hip-hop in the songs. Can you describe more of what listeners will hear on the album?

Emil: We started to play around with old school hip-hop beats, so the album is going to be a lot of samples of hip-hop drums over really funky guitar licks and pretty hard bass lines, with Swedish pop melodies over it.

Rasmus: Yeah. I feel like we’ve slowed the tempo down in general. You have to mix things up in the process. Inspiration is a such a big deal. Sometimes it requires change, and I feel like this is the new sound that we have right now. That makes us excited, and you have to be excited to do a good job.

Were you all friends in high school before you started Urban Cone? You’re so close to each other, so how does that impact the dynamics of how you work together?

Rasmus: Yes. I think it gives us an advantage because we know each other so well. We work as a family and as a company in a way. We’re very comfortable with each other and I think that is really important.

Photo found on Urban Cone’s Tumblr

Previously, with your other releases, you wouldn’t explain what your songs were about, but instead you’d let the listeners define their own meaning. So now for your third album, why did you decide that it’s so important for you to tell listeners what the songs are about? What influenced this decision?

Emil: In the beginning, our live set was really dark and we didn’t say anything between the songs and we were really alternative-indie. Then we decided that doing that isn’t very fun.

Rasmus: Because it’s not who we are.

Emil: Yeah, it doesn’t translate well. So we decided to be more open and show our personalities. When we realized we weren’t dark souls, we started to explain a bit more about what the songs are about.

Rasmus: It gives the songs more life and meaning. We realized songs would be better if we write about stuff that’s relevant and that’s important to us. I feel like this whole thing has been a development from the start. And that’s what life is. You get better at everything, all the time. You’re never done, which is beautiful in a way.

How do you want your music to inspire your listeners?                                

Rasmus: We want people to be happy when they listen to our music. Or just make them feel anything. Mainly, we want to inspire people to make more music—to make more art. According to us, art is the most beautiful thing in the world. It brings people together in all the beautiful ways.

What’s the best part about being a musician?                                                

Rasmus: We get to do what we love. And we get to do this for ourselves as well. That’s just a bonus. The feeling when someone says “I heard your song and I felt so inspired” or “I felt so happy when I was listening to your music” is just incredible.

Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.