There may not be a more humble frontwoman than Maja Ivarsson. Onstage, she personifies a gentle lioness—tantalizing audiences with her airy vocals and spontaneous dance moves as the singer of the Swedish new-wave/post-punk heavyweights The Sounds. Over the phone, she’s the same—soft-spoken and friendly, though she’s quick to make poignant statements when the time is right. Ivarsson is touring to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of her band’s landmark album, Dying to Say This to You. They’ve “Painted the Numbers” all over the country, and on December 16 the outfit brings its show to Mandalay Bay’s House of Blues. Ivarsson chatted with Vegas Seven to preview the performance.
“Thrill” is The Sounds’ first single in three years. Was it hard getting back into the studio to write and record?
Not at all. To be honest, we wrote and recorded this song a long time ago. We’ve actually got a couple [tracks] ready to go, but decided to release “Thrill” before we hit the festival circuit. Leading up to [its release], we were still playing together regularly, so it just felt like business as usual, but we’re more mature. The writing and recording processes weren’t as intense, though I wrote and recorded vocals when I was nine months pregnant (laughs). The work never stops!
What’s next for The Sounds after this single and tour?
We’re releasing an EP early next year containing some of the songs we already recorded, but we’ve got an overwhelming amount of unfinished ideas we’ll turn into songs eventually. We’re all really excited about the new material, even though it’s coming at a slower pace, and I’m sure we’ll tour following our next release.
I have my kid now, and Jesper [Anderberg, keyboard player] has a 6-month-old child. Work-wise, everything is different. I think it’s good for us to not be as busy as we’ve been the past 15 years. We were either on tour, writing or in the studio recording, so this is kind of a natural break for us. It’s nice! None of us feel the same pressure as we did when we were an up-and-coming band; everything’s coming along at a comfortable pace, and we’re keeping the momentum going. We’ve got the best, most loyal fan base you can imagine supporting us. They’re such beautiful people.
Dying to Say This to You—The Sounds’ landmark sophomore album—celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. As a band crafting music for 18 years, what’s been the biggest challenge?
It’s been such a privilege to tour and write with the same people for so long. The thing is, we don’t feel the same hunger as we did years ago—it would be unnatural if we did. I feel that we’ve pretty much checked everything off the list, and that’s an incredible feeling. We’re all very proud of what we’ve accomplished.
I’m 37 now, and I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I no longer have the urge to party after every show. Touring is a different beast and presents challenges of its own. We have a “tour” family now, and it’s a fresh, new experience for everybody in the band. To be honest, I was getting a little tired of the previous lifestyle, so this is a welcome change.
It’s been more than two years since The Sounds’ last Las Vegas show at House of Blues. Do you remember that gig?
Yes! It went really well! I remember that tour … the venue’s wooden floor doesn’t work well with my pointy high heels, so it was me versus the floor the entire night. Luckily, I have experience with that (laughs).
Vegas is an interesting place. It’s a fun town if you’re getting wild for a few hours. We were there about a week ago for a day off. We couldn’t spend too much time in the casino because I was with a little baby. It’s not meant to be a kid-friendly town, but it was fun for a little while.
I’ve got some fond memories of [Vegas]. I can’t remember who, but a member from one of our opening bands once barged into the bus and told everybody he got married. We didn’t believe him, but it actually happened! Then there’s all the money I lost while gambling there. Vegas is a very special place.
What can we expect at the show this time?
Everybody is dying to [hear] the songs [from Dying to Say This to You] live, and we’ll bring them to life. We’re bringing the same energy, so it’ll be a trip down memory lane for the audience. There are songs from that album we put on every set list, then there are the ones we haven’t played before. It’s a treat seeing [fans’] eyes light up whenever we play those songs, and they’ve been received warmly.
What are you doing after the show?
Oh, none of the crazy things I told you about. I’m going to head to the bus after the set, lie down and get some sleep. I’m sure I’ll need it.