Swedish House Mavens

DJ/producers Rebecca & Fiona on being club owners, inspiring women and why theirs is a male-dominated industry

When Rebecca Scheja and Fiona Fitzpatrick met, they were Swedish party girls destined for musical success. Scheja’s father was one of Sweden’s top classical pianists, while Fitzpatrick’s father was one of the leaders in Swedish ’80s synthpop. But don’t let the beauty fool you—these ladies have the energy, production skills and voices to shatter glass ceilings everywhere. See the Tao Group residents August 10 at Marquee Dayclub and August 12 at Marquee Nightclub.

In 2007 you two met at a party and then opened a club together in Sweden. Tell me about those early days.

Scheja: We were young and just starting to go out in Stockholm, that’s like your whole life, pretty much. And we were so into dance music generally, and electro. So we figured it would be so much fun to run our own club and promote our own club and book DJs. We never produced, we never DJ’d; we just were real interested in music.

What compelled you to DJ at your club and then start producing?

Scheja: We started to DJ as a joke pretty much, just tried it out and played all the music we liked. We didn’t practice at home or anything before, so we were super bad. We just started straight at the club trying it, so it took awhile for us to get better. We were super safe. Just play, stop, change. We didn’t even know what volume buttons we should use because we never had any equipment to practice on! But then we started to get bookings, even outside of Stockholm, because we were fun and we performed.

Fitzpatrick: We loved to do it! We thought it was so much fun, so we put so much soul into it.

Scheja: And we played really good music, a mix from more electronic indie stuff to really heavy Dutch house, when that was popular. Then we started to get bookings so we figured we have to get better at it—this is embarrassing. Like, they can’t pay us to do this! [Laughing]

Fitzpatrick: And we met our boyfriends, Scheja’s old boyfriend and my boyfriend, and they were both producers so they were like, “You have to learn to produce for yourself.” They forced us: “Go buy a computer, go buy and learn [the production software] Logic,” and then helped us learn [production].

In Sweden you’re something of a girl power group. Do you have any good stories about inspiring women?

Fitzpatrick: A lot of people come up to us like, “You make me believe in myself,” or “You made me stop thinking that I have to change myself, that I am happy the way I am,” and “After being happy with who I am, it’s so much easier to indulge in my interests and be strong in myself and believe in myself.”

Scheja: There are also a lot of young girls starting to produce music. That’s really cool because before, nobody wanted to try. They didn’t think it was possible because it’s such a male-dominant business. But now, there are so many girl DJs in Sweden! It’s not only because of us, of course, but we were a big part of that.

Last time you spoke to Vegas Seven, you shared the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry. Why do you think it’s male-dominated in the first place?

Scheja: We have our own theory of guys being so much closer from the beginning, from computer games, the way guys hang out and communicate through computers. When you’re playing on the computer you know all the shortcuts, you know how it works. And then somebody gives you a music program and, if you’re already interested in music, it’s pretty easy to get going. We ask a lot of the guy producers we meet how they started producing. [They say,] “I always played video games or computer games, but then I started to produce instead.”

Fitzpatrick: Also, they don’t have such a big social responsibility as females have. So you can sit in the basement and play computer games five nights a week, and no one is going to say you’re crazy. But as a girl we have to be out there, meet people and be social. If girls only played computer games, it would be like, “Wow, you’re weird.”

You do your own vocals and productions, and have said it’s sometimes painful to add vocals when you already have a strong melody. Painful how?

Rebecca: Sometimes it makes the track even better. But sometimes you feel like the instrumental part of it talks so much for itself that if you put a vocal on, like all of that disappears. But still it’s so many tracks that really need the vocal to make it a track.

Fiona: I think it’s difficult to move on from a demo. Sometimes you get so in love with the demo and everything that’s in it and you have your mindset on how it could be and in your head it’s a really big track. But trying to make it a full pop track with verse, bridge, and a chorus, sometimes we’re just like, “Aw, fuck it,” we just quit, we don’t have a verse on there or we just fucked the chorus.

Best not to force it.

Rebecca: Yeah. Sometimes it’s so much better when it’s less. We don’t really like commercial music, or the way people sing in commercial house music or pop music, for that matter. We like the more laidback vocals where there’s more feeling to it, instead of having something crushed in your face.

What’s the story behind your platform shoes?

Rebecca: Our buffalo shoes! They were really big in Europe and in Sweden during the ’90s, with the Spice Girls and the whole rave era. But then they disappeared. Our friend and stylist, Tommy X, he brought them back in Sweden. So, we started to buy them from Ebay, old ’90s shoes. And we started to wear them, tons of different of colors. And everybody was like, they remember the shoes but, “Whoa, they’re so weird and ugly.” But then after a while, everyone started wearing them again. But I don’t think they were ever big here, so in America they’re like, “What the fuck is that?! Like—why?”

I heard your upcoming sophomore album gets a little political. How so?

Fitzpatrick: We live in a time where to not be political is very hard. And you really have to close your eyes and ears and not listen, you know. We have knowledge of all this stuff we think is wrong, and when we write music it comes out. We’re angry.


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