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Luleå, Norrbotten, Sweden | MAJOR

Luleå, Norrbotten, Sweden | MAJOR
Band Hip Hop Jazz




"Live Review: Movits! in Chicago (4/8)"

Americans love combinations. Peanut butter and jelly, baseball and beer, ambient shoegaze folk-rock fusion– the list goes on. But how about hip-hop done over swing music? In Swedish? Don’t worry; as the crowd learned at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen on Friday night, dance is the only language you need to know for a Movits! show, and it’s one that requires no translator.

Before the Swedes got started, a few Chicagoans attempted to show them how we do things in the Windy City, to varying degrees of success. Opener Boutros was a plucky duo on synth and guitar, dressed un-ironically in hipster glasses and sweater vest. Their fans were of the dazed and confused variety, shouting “Boutros!” at the end of each number in the same tone normally reserved for requesting “Free Bird”. The lead singer replied with a straight face, “Boutros!” Every. Time. And yet, the music of Boutros was not annoying. On the contrary, much as their fan base left to be desired, their music was an interesting mélange of synth effects, peppy keyboard, and mellow guitar that leant itself happily to dancing. Their leadoff set was quite enjoyable to say the least. “Boutros!”

Second opener Reds and Blue took that ball and promptly dropped it. A three-piece with a gal on vocals and keys, a non-descript drummer, and a bass player who seemed to have escaped from Ozzfest, Reds and Blue’s vocals were hazy and incomprehensible, their music floaty and vague. They had a song that actually opened with the singer squealing, “Aaaaahhh!” They ended their set 15 minutes early, and no one seemed to complain.

Finally, the Swedes invaded. Zacke, a fellow Swedish rapper and friend of Movits!, started things off with a few fast-paced, very American sounding raps that took the tempo of the room way back up. Then Movits! themselves took the stage, bursting on in their trademark tuxedos and matching sneakers. In addition to their regular three piece, they had a man on the coolest electric upright bass, which added a wonderful depth to their usual layered sound.

Movits! played some new songs from their recent release Ut Ur Min Skalle (translation: Out Of My Head), including “Sammy Davis Jr”, which they had road-tested on their last visit to Chicago, and “Na Na Nah!” — “Everyone can sing this one!” cried energetic lead singer Johan Rensfeldt. A large contingent of Swedish fans was in the audience, much to the band’s delight, and for the benefit of the rest of us, Rensfeldt kept trying to explain his lyrics in English. But it didn’t really matter if you could understand what he was saying or not. Movits! music is unbridled fun, accented by old-fashioned musical workmanship. Dripping sweat, jackets abandoned, their white dress shirts clinging to their shoulders, they danced, played, rapped, drummed. Women screamed when Joakim Nilsson would peel off into a sax solo. DJ and all-around instrumentalist Anders Rensfeldt, brother of vocalist Johan, added occasional guitar and beating a drum pad to his list of duties, and came out from behind his mix table to play a marching snare with great gusto.

The crowd was raving with delight, dancing and crying out, and Movits! seemed to be having more fun than anyone. They added in older favorites, including “Ta pa dig dansskorna” and “Swing for hyresgastforeningen”. They came back out for an encore—and it was a necessary one, an encore not allowed out of politeness but rather demanded by the crowd, as they all should be—for which they played the two songs that made them famous, “Fel Del Av Garden” and “Appelknyckarjazz”. As the expression goes, we could’ve danced all night, but Movits! had already gone way past their allotted time. The crowd clamored to buy their new record and shake hands with the band, fans eagerly crowding around, language differences a barrier no longer after sharing something as universal as music. - Chicago Tribune


Äppelknyckarjazz (2008)
Out Of My Head (2011)




The Swedish hiphop/swing band Movits! are making their way through the music world, aiming for the top of the charts. A place they’ve already visited once with their ’08 debut “Äppelknyckarjazz”. After appearing on the American talk show “the Colbert Report” the album climbed to number one spots on both iTunes and Amazon charts. Notable here is that these were American charts and Movits! are singing in Swedish, a language quite far from the lingua franca of the US.

They have indeed come far since the days spent in the family house in Luleå. There, in the most northern part of Sweden, Johan and Anders, brothers and band mates, began developing what would later become Movits!.

“In those days we were more into acoustic hiphop and reggae” Anders says. “It was just acoustic guitar, organ and cajun.”

They released an EP under the name Planeten Jorden (Planet Earth) called “Frihetssånger i Retro Adidas” (Freedomsongs in Retro Adidas).

The brothers don’t seem to have any problems working together as they have fairly marked out roles to play. Johan, the lead singer, is the lyrics author and chorus builder, while Anders, the DJ, is the producer.

“We’ve always been on the same track when it comes to music” Johan says. “And it’s an advantage to work with your brother. If things slow down we can always stage a Gallagher-fight, to fan the media”

The duo turned trio when the Rensfeldt-brothers were joined by saxophone player Joakim Nilsson and together they took Frihetssånger i Retroadidas on a summerfestival tour in 2005. It was at an after-party to one of these festivals they discovered the swing.

“It was like a three-way, simultaneous revelation” Joakim remembers. “We were out dancing in a backyard, when someone put on Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”. The three of us were totally blown away!”

After that, their music took a new direction. Inspired by the drums and the horns of the swing era, they started working on the music that would later be known as Äppelknyckarjazz (Applestealingjazz, named after the apple-stealing trousers worn by Swedish street kids in the ’30s and ’40s). Using a dozen different musicians they recorded the album, a process that took more than three years.

“Coming from an acoustic background, we didn’t want to use samples. I guess it would have been faster, but I don’t think the result would have been as good.” Anders contemplates.

In the midst of all this, the band decided to change their name.

“We felt that Planeten Jorden didn’t really represent the new direction our music had taken” Johan explains. The choice fell on Movits, after the Swedish 18th century musician Father Movitz, sung about by the national musical hero Carl Michael Bellman. The name especially highlights the influence of old Swedish songlyrics in Johan’s writing. With a new name and new music, Movits! were on their way to produce their first full-length album.

If the first single of the record, “Swing för Hyresgästföreningen” went by fairly unnoticed, the second made a bigger impact. With a 13:th place on Sweden’s Tracks-listan and frequent airtime on P3 (channel 3 on Sweden’s national radio) it’s safe to say that “Äppelknyckarjazz” is Movits!’ breakthrough single. It was released in May 2008 and after that things really started to happen.

After releasing their debut November 2008, they started to play bigger venues in Scandinavia. With gigs every weekend for months, the name Movits! was getting more and more recognized. It still came as a big surprise to the band when they were contacted by the staff at the Colbert Report.
“We really didn’t think we’d ever play outside of Scandinavia, being as we sing in Swedish”, Joakim says. “And definitely not in the States!”
Stephen Colbert had found the video to the single “Fel del av Gården” on a forum and despite the linguistic difference, he decided to invite Movits! to perform on his show. On July 27 they played on the Colbert Report and the rest is modern hiphop history.

Following up on their success in USA, Movits! embarked on a nation wide tour in January 2010. They were accompanied by fellow Swedish rapper Zacke and a filming crew, documenting every step they took. With sold out dates in all big cities, the “First we take Manhattan Tour” marked the start of a buisy year for Movits!

During the spring and summer of 2010 Movits! have been expanding their reach in Europe. The have toured England, including playing at the Glastonbury Festival seven times, and played festivals in Hungary, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Slovakia, Macedonia and Shanghai. They have also appeared on national television in Sweden and perform on BBC Radio 1 sessions in London.
During the fall they have been recording their second album, which will be released worldwide during the first quarter of 2011. It’s safe to say Movits! are on their way up. And if things slow down, there’s always the Gallagher-card to play.