20 Questions With Galantis: The Producers on Punk Rock, Working With Dolly Parton & Growing Up In Rural Sweden

Jimmy Fontaine 

Linus Eklöw (L) and Christian Karlsson (R) of Galantis

Since its Feb. 7 release, Galantis' third LP, Church, has been sitting on the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart, where it peaked at No. 4 and is currently placed at No. 23.

Church is the only album in Billboard's dance and electronic chart history -- and in fact the only album in dance music history at large -- to include a Dolly Parton feature, with the country legend appearing on the single "Faith" among a list of album collaborators including Yellow Claw, Hook N Sling and Passion Pit. "Faith" in fact delivered Parton her first ever No. 1 hit on a Dance/Electronic chart when the song debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales in November of 2019.

While the coronavirus has halted Galantis' tour behind Church, the guys proved their online performance prowess last week, doing a show in virtual reality on March 11 through VR platform Wave. Here the duo -- Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklöw -- share their recollections of growing up in rural Sweden, getting into music via punk rock and taking their millions of worldwide fans to Church.

1. Where are you in the world right now and what's the setting like?

Linus: We are in Manhattan, the Big Apple!

2. What is the first album or piece of music you bought for yourselves, and what was the medium? (Vinyl, cassette, etc.)

Linus: Billy Cobham, Spectrum, on vinyl.

Christian: Kraftwork, The Man-Machine, on vinyl.

3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid, and what do they think of what you do for a living now?

Christian: My dad always worked; he was a farmer. He’s super proud and knows more about my career than I do -- he knows everything.

4. What was the first song you ever made?

Christian: It was something from one of the many punk rock bands I started around the age of 13, probably just three chords and something really angry, lyrically.

Linus: Mine was called “Same Platform,” in a band called Blind Pac-Man. Also punk rock.

Christian: You have to start in punk rock, it’s the root to everything good.

5. If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into dance music, what would you give them?

Both: Daft Punk, Discovery

6. What’s the first thing you bought for yourself when you started making money as a DJ?

Linus: It was probably investing more into my studio.

Christian: Definitely more studio gear.

7. What’s the last song you listened to?

Christian: A new Galantis one, coming out this year, hopefully!

8. What’s one song you wish you had produced?

Christian: I wish I produced “Windowlicker” by Aphex Twin. It’s still mind blowing; the production is sonically unreal.

9. What, exactly, is a sea fox?

Both: We’re still trying to find out.

10. What’s distinctive about the place you grew up, and how did it shape you?

Christian: I’m from a very small island in Sweden, with only about 500 to 1,000 people at most. It was beautiful, but we had nothing easily accessible to us in terms of making music or anything like that. Every move was a step towards a bigger world and more options -- it was never about getting away from it, but just the drive to explore. Things would have definitely been different if I were born in New York and everything was in my face.

Linus: I used to sit in my studio and imagine it was a building in Brooklyn. I’d look out at the view from the second floor window and dream so vividly that I was in New York making that house record I was working on. In those small cities or villages, nobody is out after 6:oo PM so you really have to make your own party.

Christian: The dream was just getting to visit America, and then one day you think, “Maybe I’ll speak English.” At that point, it’s such a far away dream that it’s hard to even believe you could make it here and become part of the music industry.

11. What's the first dance music show that really blew your mind?

Linus: The Prodigy

12. Festivals or club shows -- what's your preference?

Christian: We love both, they’re so different -- one doesn’t really compete with the other. The intimacy of the club and the feeling that anything could happen, you tend to be more free. Whereas the energy of a huge festival crowd is wild, mixed with both fans and people who might just be checking you out. Having 40,000 people singing your song back to you is crazy.

13. What is the first thing you do when you get back to your hotel room after a show?

Christian: It’s hard, because you’re charged with adrenaline and endorphins so you have to focus on coming down. It’s all about getting to a point where you can rest in order to do a show the next day.

14. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happening in the crowd during one of your sets?

Linus: During one of our first New York shows, at one point in the set, all the fans took off their shoes and used them as pom-poms.

15. In the wide world of electronic music, what niche do you fill?

Linus: It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Christian: We carry something unique, that history in music and songwriting for over 20 years. It’s a powerful tool to have in dance these days. A lot of people make a track and then write to it, but for us it starts with the song and I think that’s unique. I feel like we have our own genre.

16. What's distinctive about Galantis fans?

Christian: Our fans are very loyal. They’re very open minded and open to our sound evolving. With certain acts or genres, people don’t always want them to change -- but our fans appreciate that Galantis is always searching.

Linus: They really do give us the fuel that we need.

17. List all the places where you worked on Church.

Christian: Every single city we’ve been to on tour for the past two and a half years.

18. What does this album say about where you are in your careers?

Christian: I think it says what we’re very confident in what Galantis is about. Our first record, Pharmacy, was inventing our sound, and then The Aviary was more about exploring and finding something new. Now Church is wrapping them both together, going back to the beginning but also using the new things we discovered along our journey.

19. Give us one great Dolly Parton anecdote, please?

Christian: When we asked Dolly to be in the music video for our song “Faith,” we didn’t expect her to say yes -- she’s a very busy lady! She asked if she could design her own bus driver outfit (we said, “For sure”), and came in glitter and sparkles looking amazing. We also had a custom Seafox jacket made and gave it to her on set, and surprised her by wearing jackets of our own with her face on them.

20. One piece of advice you'd give to your younger selves?

Both:  Hold on, young Padawan.