Pop music remains one of Sweden’s chief cultural exports. However, quite far from the Stockholm of Max Martin and Icona Pop—a little over ten hours to be exact—the tiny town of Pajala sits just miles from the border of Finland. The Magnettes fondly call this city of 2,000 home, and it’s the birthplace of their infectious and inimitable glitter punk pop sound. The group’s co-vocalists Rebecka Digervall and Sanna Kalla not only proudly refer to themselves as “non-normative and in control,” “Riot Grrls,” “goths,” “witches,” “Tornedalingar” [literal translation: natives of Torne Valley, a Swedish minority], or “Sisters Of The Ugly Youth,” but they also back up those descriptions with a kinetic live show and punchy, hook-y anthems befitting of the words. Their declaration is musical first and foremost.
“We’re reclaiming the word ‘Ugly,’” declares Sanna. “Why does beautiful have to be the standard? We think speaking your mind and being weak, weird, sad, anything but perfect, and ultimately real is cool. That’s the ‘Sad Girls Club.’ It’s a space for anyone who listens to our music to be who they are. Embrace the ugly.”
“There’s some sort of Northern rebellion,” adds guitarist, keyboardist, and producer Tomas Bäcklund. “We don’t want to sing self-obsessed diary entries over jangly guitars. We aim for something bigger and more all-encompassing. However, we want to do it without moving to Stockholm, London, or L.A. and writing songs about beaches and being super fit because, honestly, that’s just not interesting, and it’s been overdone.”
The seeds of that rebellion became planted when Rebecka and Sanna met at six-years-old. By the age of 14, Rebecka had written a plethora of songs for the duo. In 2012, they released their first single “Paper Cut” and performed across Europe and Russia. With a growing buzz, the group headed stateside to make their New York debut and perform a string off head-turning shows at SXSW. Taking meetings with DigSin in Nashville, they signed a deal with the label.
“Something happened in Nashville,” says Rebecka. “We realized it was time to be fearless and say exactly what we want to say. So we went home and started doing that!”
Galvanized by the trip, the band began recording in Tomas’s kitchen, carving out a middle ground between their chief influences Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Bikini Kill, and Katy Perry. As a result, the single “Bones” builds from intertwining, intermingling harmonies into a seductive, swinging chant over booming production.
“We wanted to write a song describing a guy in the way a guy would typically describe a girl,” reveals Rebecka. “Women are typically perceived as passive when it comes to relationships, while men are active. We wanted to flip that around. You could also simply say ‘Bones’ is about craving a good fuck,” she laughs.
Then, there’s “Sad Girls Club,” which tempers new wave soundscapes and an instantly infectious refrain. “It’s about having the right to be sad when the world is constantly pissing all over you,” Sanna remarks.
Rebecka continues, “My friend started this club in Gothenburg. They called it ‘The Sad Girls Club,’ so that’s where the idea came from. The song’s basically having the right to express whatever is on your mind. It takes balls to be honest to show vulnerability sometimes. It’s more human.”
With the arrival of their debut for DigSin Records, The Magnettes extend an invitation for listeners everywhere to join “The Sad Girls Club.”
“We’re breaking down the wall between us and the audience,” Sanna leaves off. “We’ll be in the crowd going crazy with them. We’ll be singing right in their faces. This is ‘The Sad Girls Club.”