takida band photo

Interview – Kristoffer Söderström of tAKiDA

There is simply no science that determines success when it comes to Rock-n-Roll. Some bands peak early, soon to fall off into obscurity. Then there are others who slowly build momentum, steadily releasing quality material for years to come. A perfect case of such an act would be Sweden’s tAKiDA. Casting off on their journey sometime around the start of the new millennium, they released debut album …Make You Breathe in 2006, and by 2007 had themselves a massively successful album with Bury the Lies.

From here the band has steadily moved along, sustaining themselves as one of Sweden’s top Rock acts, but in 2024, they totally take everyone by surprise with their album The Agony Flame. An album forged in a wide range of emotion, the end result is a dark, melodic, heavy collection of songs that could be tAKiDA’s best to date. Putting all of their heart into it, Drummer Kristoffer Söderström took some time to chat about the roads traveled by tAKiDA, the work behind The Agony Flame, plus more. 

Cryptic Rock – tAKiDA has been going strong for quite some time now. With many albums and a few decades of experience behind you, you have also built a tremendous amount of success. Before we dive deeper, how would you describe the journey of the band to this point?

Kristoffer Söderström – Well, when we started our audience sort of grew along the time when the internet and the file sharing stuff had come along. From then on, people started sending songs to each other. Then we became ‘underground big’; and that was back around 2000 or something. We actually made our own tours even before having a record deal or anything. From there, I would describe, like actually like a step ladder so to say.

It’s not been really fast-growing and getting up to the top fast overnight, so to say. We always had our own goals and we always did what we wanted to do. That’s probably why we’re around today, I would say. We never burned ourselves out. We’ve always gone our own way.

Cryptic Rock – That steady progression forward is better than a big flare right away. Because sometimes those big flares fizzle out, and what is thereafter?  

Kristoffer Söderström – Exactly. Some people actually believe that we had an overnight success with the first radio single that was really known to all kinds of people. That’s not the case though. We had been around for five or six years before that.

takida - bury the lies
tAKiDA – Bury the Lies / Roadrunner (2007)
Takida the burning heart.
tAKiDA – The Burning Heart / Se7en Records (2011)

Cryptic Rock – Most certainly. You mentioned how you have always gone your own way. The music of tAKiDA changes from record to record. Tell us a little bit about that and the inspiration behind the changes.

Kristoffer Söderström – Before we start off writing an album or recording, we never say, “Okay, this time it should sound like this,” or, “Now we’re inspired by that or that band.” It just happens.

All of us are songwriters. So, all of us have ideas that we put together at home. Then we meet up in the studio, we show it to each other and say, “Oh, that’s cool. We can do something from that.” We don’t really have a plan when we do the records. They just happen.

Of course, in some way, you are inspired by what you’re listening to at the moment. It’s never, “This time I’ve been listening so much to this, so I want it to sound like this.” That is not the case.

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it all happens naturally. It is very interesting to hear the progression from record to record. As mentioned, you have had really tremendous success; particularly in your home country of Sweden. This is while the band is still relatively unknown in the North American market.  In North America. Has tAKiDA always been curious to break the North American market?

Kristoffer Söderström – When we were younger, yes. We went there to record a single with David Bendeth in New Jersey. We had plans to break in The States.

We have our career in Sweden. Then the last 5-6 years, stuff has really started to happen down in Germany and places like that. It makes more sense to just go down to Germany and see what can happen in Europe first.

I know there’s so much hard work to break in The States. If it happens, if we have a way in somehow, of course, we want to do it. We don’t say no to that territory at all.  I think it’s something that will happen if it happens.

Cryptic Rock – Understandable. It is interesting because the band has a sound that would sell in America and many would really enjoy it.

Kristoffer Söderström – Yeah, I think so too. I know we have a lot of fans over there, but America’s big and it’s spread out throughout the states.

Cryptic Rock – Right. For example, HIM did not break in North America until the Bam Margera thing happened, right? However, HIM were very well known in the European market prior to that.

Kristoffer Söderström – Yeah. It’s also the other way around. Some American artists who sell out every arena around the USA country, never play in Europe, and some people never heard of them.

Even in Sweden and Norway, we’re neighboring countries. Some Norwegian artists, you don’t know about them, but they’ve been around for thirty years, and they play every venue and tour you can do in that country. It’s kind of weird.

Cryptic Rock – Yes, it certainly is. You have this new record set to come out this Friday, The Agony Flame. This was preceded by a few singles. “The Loneliest Hour” has been a big single; particularly in Germany as well. This album, it seems like a pinnacle point for the band. It is really a great record. What was the writing and recording process like for this album?

Kristoffer Söderström – First of all, thank you for liking it. You always say you made the best record when you release a record, and you mean it. This time, I really mean it. I find that we have made so much progress in the sound and everything is from the heart and real.

We met up in the Swedish mountains two years ago and wrote the first parts of the first songs. Then we went on tour, and then we went into the studio again and recorded them. The process has been quite long, but real separate sessions. Chris has his own studio where we record, and he’s co-producing the album with Robert, our singer. We do it on our own very much. We had the opportunity to spread it out for a long time. I really think everybody’s put their hearts into this album… and it made a result.

Cryptic Rock – It shows. One of the things that stand out with this record is that it is a little bit darker than perhaps what tAKiDA has done in recent years. There is a more Metal edge. You can hear something that perhaps Finland’s Sentenced or Germany’s End of Green has done in the past. There is a very Dark Metal sound here.

Kristoffer Söderström – Yeah, you might be right. We also have a wide variety of music we listen to and like. It’s all the way from the heaviest of Black Metal to the softest Pop. That’s really how we mix it all together.

Cryptic Rock – Right. It definitely comes together for a record that could be one of tAKiDA’s best. Honestly, this album may even appeal to the more underground Metal scene too. Do you feel that way as well?

Kristoffer Söderström – Yeah, I think so. Even though it’s not complicated music and it’s more hit songs, so to say, I still believe that the coolest of the Metal guys can listen to it.

Cryptic Rock – Definitely. As you said, you put your hearts into it. You can hear it in the vocals, the compositions, etc. There are a lot of dark emotions amidst The Agony Flame that many can relate to. Where was your headspace when putting these songs together? 

Kristoffer Söderström – Yeah. I must give Robert credit for that. He has this mental health problem sometimes; he’s been up and down these past two years. A lot of it comes from his heart, and you can hear it. A lot of the melancholy comes from there. I would say it’s much from his heart.

Cryptic Rock – Well, hopefully, these songs can be a type of therapy for him; because it’s therapy for listeners. Melancholic music is a form of release.  

Kristoffer Söderström – It is. Some people don’t understand that. Some people believe that if you listen to melancholy music, you’ll be sad and you’ll be down. Maybe not. Maybe it can take you out of it as well.

Cryptic Rock – Most certainly. You are right, some people do not understand that. They do not understand the effect of it, but it is a cathartic release. You need an outlet to release these emotions. These songs do release an emotion that people will connect with.

Kristoffer Söderström – That is so good to hear.

Cryptic Rock – It is true. The Agony Flame is out now. What touring is planned in support of the album?  

Kristoffer Söderström – First of all, we’re going to tour Sweden. Right now, we’re rehearsing for the Swedish tour. The first show is on February 14th.

The tour in Sweden is actually not a Rock show. It’s semi-acoustic versions of our songs, and we call them The Boxroom Sessions. We’re going to do 20-21 cities in Sweden first, and then a short break, and then we go to Europe. Then we’ll do the full Rock show again. Then we’ll mainly play in Germany, but also Switzerland and Austria.

Cryptic Rock – Sounds like you have got a really cool schedule. It would be interesting to hear the acoustic songs, too.

Kristoffer Söderström – Yeah. You have some of them on Spotify under The Boxroom Sessions.

takida - a perfect world
tAKiDA – A Perfect World / The End Records (2016)
takida - falling from fame
tAKiDA – Falling From Fame / BMG (2021)

Cryptic Rock – Excellent. The tour of Europe will focus on The Agony Flame?

Kristoffer Söderström – Of course. However, we are all guys that if we go to a concert with a band that’s just released a record, you still don’t want to listen to ten of those songs. You want to hear maybe four. We haven’t set the set list yet, but something like that, I believe.

Cryptic Rock – Well, we will just have to wait and see. You mentioned some of your influences, you and the band. You said everything from Pop music to Black Metal. tAKiDA has a very eclectic sound. What are some of the influences?

Kristoffer Söderström – I can speak for myself. When I was a kid and started listening to music and being really interested, I started off with Michael Jackson. That was the coolest of the coolest and the best for me. Guns N’ Roses was awesome. I believe those were really idols for me. Then I went over to the Grunge scene and Metallica.

I’ve always loved Rock, but different bands and genres within Rock. Grunge was a huge thing for me as well. Metal and Grunge are the main influences for me as a drummer.

Cryptic Rock – All great eras of music. Grunge and ‘80s Metal genres are vastly different, but equally good.

Kristoffer Söderström – They are. Exactly. People either like Grunge or Hair Metal bands, but I like both. I’m a drummer that actually likes Lars Ulrich a lot. I think his drumming is exactly where it should be. He has been an influence for me. Less is more.

Cryptic Rock – That is a good point. Backtracking a little, we spoke about how melancholic music can be therapeutic. A large portion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock that comes out of the Scandinavian region is a darker form of music than, let us say, the rest of the world, or at least North America. Why do you think that is?

Kristoffer Söderström – I get asked that a lot, and it’s hard to answer that. All I can believe is that it comes from the darkness; the winter time is dark. In December, where I live, we have three hours of daylight. Then in the summer, it switches over to the opposite, where it’s never dark. The sun doesn’t set in the summer. The sun gives you different emotions, and they twist quite a lot. Yes, it’s cold. Yes, we have great summers as well. So, maybe it comes from the weather somehow.

I know we’re good at music up here, and that’s also something that people ask a lot – why are there so many good songwriters from Sweden and Norway? I believe that has to do with something when we grew up. When we were kids, everybody, mandatory, was allowed to try an instrument at school.

Yeah, and really learn an instrument and spend half an hour a week getting schooled by teachers and learning an instrument for free. Everybody was supposed to try it at least. You didn’t have to, but you almost had to try it at least. I think lots of it comes from there.

takida the agony flame album
tAKiDA – The Agony Flame / Napalm Records (2024)

Cryptic Rock – Right. Those are very important things. Not sure about Sweden, but in North America, they have really trimmed back on music education for kids in the school, and it is unfortunate. Learning an instrument is important; even if you are not going to follow through with it. Music even enhances other studies.

Kristoffer Söderström – Yeah. It’s the same here. I’m sorry to say, but they cut down on music lessons and all of what we had when we grew up, they’re cutting down. That’s sad, I think. We had so much help with building your own rehearsal space. It was in the culture. It’s not the same; kids don’t do it anymore at the same rate as we did. You don’t have that many bands as before.

Cryptic Rock – So, this is something that is not just singular to North America. It is something that is all over it seems. That is kind of depressing when you think about it.

Kristoffer Söderström – It is. They don’t understand the value of what music does to people.

Cryptic Rock – Hopefully we’ll see some changes there. You mentioned some of your influences. Out of curiosity are there any particular Swedish artists that hold a special place in your heart?

Kristoffer Söderström – Yeah, sure. There’s a lot of bands that sing in Swedish that you probably don’t know of. There is a band called Kent and I’ve listened to them a lot for a couple of years. Of course, Roxette and ABBA. They are brilliant.

Cryptic Rock – Those are all great acts. What about Europe?

Kristoffer Söderström – Yes. We toured with them ten years ago and that was fun. Europe is a great band. There are quite a lot of Swedish singing acts that mean something to me. Lars Winnerbäck is a guy I’ve been listening to a lot as well. He’s more of a singer-songwriter, but in Swedish.

tAKiDA 2024 Tour Dates:
Boxroom Tour:
14/2 Lokomotivet, Eskilstuna
15/2 Cirkus, Stockholm
16/2 UKK, Uppsala
17/2 Heymakers, Falun
21/2 Växjö Konserthus, Växjö
22/2 Konserthuset, Jönköping
23/2 Halmstad Teater, Halmstad
24/2 Konserthuset, Helsingborg
28/2 Kulturens Hus, Luleå
29/2 Sara Kulturhus, Skellefteå
1/3 Konserthuset, Gävle
2/3 Tonhallen, Sundsvall
7/3 Idun, Umeå
8/3 Konserthuset, Västerås
9/3 Mässhallen, Karlstad
10/3 Konserthuset, Göteborg
13/3 LKK Crusehallen, Linköping
14/3 Apollon, Trollhättan
15/3 Åhaga, Borås
16/3 Conventum, Örebro
22/3 Malmö Live, Malmö
23/3 De Geer, Norrköping
Smoke & Mirrors Tour:
02/04 Stadthalle Offenbach
04/04 Capitol Hannover
05/04 Felsenkeller Leipzig
06/04 FILHarmonie Filderstadt
07/04 Konzertfabrik Z7 Pratteln (CH)
09/04 TonHalle München
10/04 Szene Wien Vienna (AT)
12/04 edel-optics.de Arena Hamburg
13/04 Palladium Köln
14/04 Columbiahalle Berlin
16/04 Garage Saarbrücken
17/04 Löwensaal Nürnberg
For more on tAKiDA: takidamusic.com | FacebookInstagram 

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