The Ghost of Helags – Swedish cinematic dream pop duo announce debut album

Unfurling a string of mesmeric singles these past months, the Sweden-born, Berlin-based pairing of Teresa Woischiski and John Alexander Ericson confirm a 12-track album release for 5 March this year.

Coupling Woischiski’s feather-light vocal and emotive lyricism with Ericson’s natural flair for conjuring crystalline electronica with soul, the duo deliver a set of stylised, other-worldly synth-pop.

Written all over the world in the days before Coronavirus was even a word and in the instances of relaxed relief between lockdowns this past year, We Came From The Stars is a record born from the bohemian virtues of freedom and exploration. Alive with a wide-eyed sense of adventure, it’s a record that transcends borders and boundaries; its songs like postcards from a daydream world of international travel, freed of its current restrictions.

We jumped on Zoom for a chat to find out some more.

P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?

Teresa: We’re in Berlin and doing not much. We’re being devastated with this bloody lockdown. Just fixing food.

P3dro: Yeah, we think everyone is becoming a cooking expert.

Teresa: Exactly.

P3dro: Tell us about the band, how long have you been together? How did you form?

John: It was about 3 or 4 years ago when I started with some electronic songs and I wanted some female vocals on them. I was looking for a singer and it was from an ad that I found Teresa and we just took it from there.

P3dro: Where does the name come from?

John: It’s a mountain range in Sweden. I used to go skiing there as a kid.

P3dro: What’s the story about the ghost?

John: There’s not much behind that. It sounded better than just “Helags.

P3dro: There’s the new album coming out in March, when was that written and recorded?

Teresa: It was a long process to finish it. It was written and composed and recorded in different places. In the end we just had to call it a wrap; it’s always nerve wracking if you want to finish it, but you’re not sure and then you want to perfect it.

It was finished about a month ago.

John: It was a drawn out process. Some tracks are, like, 2 years old, although most of them are quite new, from the last 6 months or so. But because of Corona, it’s been a slow process.

Teresa: On the one hand Corona was good because it made us write. But on the other hand there are times when you get desperate about the situation.

P3dro: How did you manage to finish it off [in lockdown]?

John: It was done in a studio here in Berlin. I’ve been working with a guy here in Berlin for a long time and he has a studio, so that made it work.

P3dro: Do you have a set process for writing songs?

John: I do most of the song writing. Most will start with some loops, or some electronic stuff. Sometimes I will bring it by Teresa and she writes the lyrics for it. We’ll play around with it, when I have an idea. We work together quite a lot like that, although I mostly have the music ideas.

P3dro: It’s a strange time to be releasing an album. Are you able to do anything to promote it?

Teresa: Well, we hope things will open up a bit in the summer, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to tour and do some gigs as well. But until then, it’s just online basically, and hoping people will appreciate the work as much as possible.

John: We shot a video, a proper video, with a team a couple of months ago for a song called ‘Chemistry’, which opens the album. So that will come out when the album drops. But, of course, we’ve missed playing live. We’ve played live a lot over the past 2 or 3 years – that’s quite a big thing – it’s our outlet. It’s frustrating.

P3dro: When was the last time you were able to play live?

John: We played with Zoot Woman, here in Berlin in September 2019.

Teresa: We also did one in the middle of lockdown, all seated. So strange. I don’t really want to have to do that again.

John: Who knows when gigs will start again. That seems to be about the last thing on the list. I can’t see 2,000 people getting packed into a room together. Not any time soon.

P3dro: And, of course, we’ve left the EU as well.

John: Yeah, it’s surreal, isn’t it? It’s gonna be really hard. I don’t know whether they’re working to sort out this deal for artists’ visas. My brother lives in London and he’s a musician, but he won’t be able to tour. That affects him a lot.

P3dro: Where would you say you get your influences? Some of your songs have quite a film soundtrack feel about them.

Teresa: Yeah. I would say there are so many different influences or inspirations we can take. ‘Twin Peaks’, or some 80s movie, or bands or people. It really depends. There isn’t really one source where we always go.

Also places. We love travelling and we can hide in some nice environment and just let us be influenced by everything that’s happening there. That’s always a very big source of inspiration for us.

P3dro: So, what’s next for the band?

John: We’ll try to figure something out. We’ve some live radio thing here in Berlin in a few weeks.

Teresa: There’s also a local TV show where we’ll be doing a gig.

John: We’d like to be doing some things online. We’ll figure it out, just like everybody else has had to do.

In terms of making new music, we’re always writing, but we have to focus on this album for now.

Teresa: We had hoped to tour the UK with the album, but we don’t know if that’s going to happen. That was the initial plan.

P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.

Teresa: BICEP. They’re amazing. Based in London, but from Ireland.

John: I’ve been listening to the new Sleaford Mods album. They look like they’ve been doing lockdown their whole lives. I love them.

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