Another Way In
An Interview with Steffi & Virginia
Profet´s Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström interviews duo Steffi and Virginia, discussing misheard lyrics, cultural duality and new ways in. In light of their latest release, »Work A Change«, Steffi and Virginia describe the seems of their collaboration, and the Chief Ideologue analyzes their dynamic thoroughly.
Photo: Stephan Redel
I have previously ranted on and on in my Profet scribblings about how I enjoy my electronic music dark and disturbing, foremost in my interview with Danish distress disco producer Liquido, entitled »We Are All Ghosts«.
I will, in this Profet piece, take a slight step back from my old statement. Comforting enough, my field of the journalistic universe allows a writer – almost even encourages one – to make an opinion and change it a few months later. This alternation between mindsets is what keeps us pop journalists on our feet, because you don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows. So, look out kid.
My current statement is as follows: When it comes to electronic music, I am still very keen on the darkness – music that sounds like it could physically hurt me – but I have tendencies for liking the more inviting, danceable warmth of old school house as well.
To my ears, duo Steffi & Virginia combine these two elements when joining forces. The result is, on their new release »Work A Change«, tracks that make me smile and look twice over my shoulder while dancing.
Listening to their respective work, I believe I can hear the separate aspects that go together to form what’s audible on the fresh album. Steffi brings the obscurity of the darkened techno beats, and Virginia lets the glistening sentimentality of distant disco tears rain down on their communal creation. Together, I find them stronger than divided, but I enjoy witnessing the recipe for their match. Just like when reading a cook book, where I can imagine what one ingredient might do when added to another, I find pleasure in investigating the individual taste of each musical factor. Most often, their individuality might be difficult to define when mixed with too many others of their sort, but every influence and idea can be traced and dissected with enough patience and care.
Steffi. Photo: Stephan Redel
I get Steffi and Virginia on the phone, and start from the beginning by asking how they started collaborating.
»A mutual friend introduced us and we clicked from the beginning when we got into a conversation about music« says Virginia. »Quite soon after we first met, we started sending ideas back and forth, and the idea of maybe working together at some point was born.«
»And this was almost ten years ago?« I ask, testing the detective work I’ve done prior to the interview, consisting of looking through Steffi and Virginia’s solo discographies and seeing when their names first started appearing together.
»Yeah, that’s right« the duo say after a moment of consulting with each other.
»Did you find it easy to collaborate from the beginning?« I wonder.
»Absolutely, we were excited and inspired each other a lot« says Virginia. »It came natural.«
»Do you find it important to still make music separately as well?« I ask.
»Yes, because we’re not a band in a classic way« Virginia states. »Also, sometimes it’s important to listen to your own creativity.«
»We were both making music on our own before we met« says Steffi. »That’s just what you do when you’re a musician, sometimes you collaborate but you’re still doing your solo stuff.«
I tell Steffi and Virginia my perspective on the differences between their solo recordings. They both agree on this being positive, and they even say their differences might be the reason that they match. However, they clearly point out that wherever their separate sounds may differ, they do stand on common ground.
The »Work A Change« cover
I believe the album cover for the duo’s latest release somewhat mirrors this dynamic. Two wide-eyed profiles face opposite one another, the left coloured in a delicate light purple and the right in a cold turquoise. Right in between them is what strikes me as an intricate system of veins, looking more or less life preserving. I imagine the drawn lines as a transportation for shared thoughts, going from one of the figures’ minds to the other’s. The thought changes colour on the way, and goes back through another vein to reach its original source in a new shape.
My personal favourite track off of »Work A Change« is called »Until You’re Begging«. Much of my liking is due to the song being suitable for driving through never-ending dark tunnels, only lit by fluorescent lights in colours reminiscent of those on the album cover. Such a setting is both pleasurable and alarming all at once, just how I prefer my electronic music. Loneliness (because of course I imagine myself driving through these long tunnels on my own) itself offers me equal amounts of comfort and fright, and »Until You’re Begging« makes me feel alone and stoned.
Slowly, I start wrapping myself around the conclusion that I very well might seek cultural experiences that make me feel more than one thing simultaneously. One simple sentiment is not enough to trigger me, and therefore I require duality and dialecticism to get going. I begin to understand why so much culture will bore me to tears, and why I’ve thought of myself as a no-good, unreasonable snob who will never be culturally satisfied. That, dear reader, is not a healthy way to look upon oneself, and this simple realisation regarding my preposterous pride is the beginning to a cure.
Apart from being an emotional duality jewel of a song, »Until You’re Begging« offers me, as a Swede, a hidden message. When the title words are sung, they sound exactly like »en till väg in«, which in Swedish means »another way in«. I feel the need to tell Steffi and Virginia about what their lyrics might say to the Swedish speaking community.
»It’s like anal sex, another way in« Steffi laughs loudly after hearing about my mishearing the words. When her laughing has gone, she says: »I think what’s important with a vocal track, is that no matter what our message as producers is it’s still up to the listener to say what they feel when listening to the song. If you feel like it’s about ‘another way in’, then it’s about another way in.«
Virginia. Photo: Stephan Redel
»Would you say there is any theme throughout the tracks on ‘Work A Change’« I ask, not really finding any other way out of the »another way in«-topic we’ve slid onto.
»There’s always a theme when you make a set of songs« says Steffi. »There’s always a connection between the songs, especially if you make them in the same period of time. They become a family, lyric wise. Most of the time, you write about one happening and then the whole record is about that thing you want to express yourself about.«
Now, since »Work A Change« was released on September 20th, Steffi and Virginia will perform a few DJ gigs together in celebration of the album. After that they might plan a live set, and then see where the inspiration takes them.
Here, towards the end of the interview, it’s relaxing to hear about the duo’s lack of pressure in their perspective on music. They emphasize and repeat many times during our phone chat, the importance of going with a gut feeling. What works best, is what feels best. When it comes to music, I guess it’s hard to find another way in.