[JPL] Cross-dressing Swedish jazz could become all the rage

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Fri Sep 29 21:57:19 EDT 2006

With their third album, Koop have crafted a magical, smooth sound. They 
talk to Joe Muggs

''Koop is an illusion," says Oscar Simonsson, "and our music is an 
illusion. Although we're real jazz musicians, we use our music to create a 
fantasy, a beautiful place to visit."

Simonsson is one half of Koop, a pair of cross-dressing Swedes who make 
magical electro-jazz ballads and whose new album, Koop Islands, is their 
best yet. With its exotic influences, it conjures up images of sparkling 
night skies and art-deco cruise-liner interiors, where at any moment a 
Garbo or Dietrich femme fatale could appear through a door moodily smoking 
a cigarette and draped in pearls.

During an 11-year recording career, Simonsson and his musical partner 
Magnus Zingmark have developed a sound that stands out from their 
generation of jazz-influenced dance artists.

They met aged 18 at a club called Popcorn, which Zingmark ran with DJ 
friends in their hometown of Uppsala. Both had played jazz from an early 
age. "Swedish schools all have very good music teaching," says Simonsson. 
"But I joined a jazz quintet at 13 purely for pleasure and taught myself 
the piano."

Perhaps surprisingly, Sweden has always attracted jazz musicians. "A lot of 
American musicians came in the 1940s and 50s, met Swedish women, made 
babies and decided to stay
 for a couple of years at least," says Zingmark. 
"The music is quite ingrained here too."

For years, Koop toured the kitsch 1960s "cool jazz" sound that they 
developed in their first two albums (Sons of Koop in 1997 and Waltz for 
Koop in 2001) until eventually, as Simonsson says, they became "tired of 
our own sound". They began to gravitate towards the lusher instrumentation 
of the 1930s and 40s, and increased the theatricality of their outré 
costumes and makeup.

"We write songs in a major key, but our lyrics are more complex," says 
Zingmark, referring to the emotional ambiguity of their words – which are 
written in English. "We like to make happy songs with a glimpse of melancholy."

Drawing on the smooth vocals of Mikael Sundin, Yukimi Nagano and the 
London-based beat poet Rob Gallagher, Koop have now perfected their 
songcraft to such a point that they have achieved a style entirely their 
own. Koop Islands is their strongest and most beautiful record to date.
'Koop Islands' (K7) is out on Monday


Dr. Jazz
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