Made up of Danish duo Julian Winding and Luna Kira, Sweet Tempest are a group known for expertly crafting lyrics that will leave you feeling nostalgic with their otherworldly quality.
Beginning their musical journey back in 2013, the pair has since gained over a million views for their soundtrack for the 2016 film Neon Demon and received hundreds of thousands of plays from loyal fans worldwide.
Now back with their latest project Bones & Machinations, we talk to Julian Winding about his famous mother Bridget Nielsen, meeting Luna, LSD, future plans for Sweet Tempest and his proudest moments so far.
What's got you motivated right now?
Well at the moment its actually just basically following up to the nice things that have sort of happened over the previous year with Sweet Tempest and my own stuff. I have got a lot to go on, so I am just taking that and trying my best to follow up on it, it's a bit nerve-wracking actually but it is also very motivating. Also, the world might blow up in a minute so I might as well get it done before that.
You are also from Denmark, right?
Yes, I was born in Denmark but I am actually raised in England, so it's kinda a mix.
When did you come to the UK?
When I was about 4 years old if I am not mistaken. I might have been 4 or 5 years old, and I stayed there until I was 19 and then I moved back to Denmark.
What made you go back to Denmark?
Well, it was meant to be temporary and then I went to a music school there, which was fantastic! And then it's the usual thing, I met a girl and I ended up staying kinda thing, apart from the band you know, so yeah it was difficult to leave.
Growing up with a famous mum (Bridget Nielsen) must have made your childhood that much more interesting?
Yeah, it hasn't been boring, I can put it that way. Incidentally, my father in the Scandinavian areas was quite a successful musician. So I have always had a lot of input on both sides to sort of keep me going which was very, very nice. When you are young and wanting to do the arts, that there isn't someone saying 'no go out and fucking become a lawyer'. No one was saying that.
Is it true that you described your family has "hippies", growing up?
Yeah, they are very easy going. They are hardworking people but they are very relaxed about all kinds of stuff and how do I put this... you don't get judged for your choices you know, as long as you are trying to sort of move forward. I think the important thing is if you are heading somewhere then they will support you no matter what you are doing. I mean you could be growing beans in your backyard and they will be like great!
So growing up in such a creative family was music something you naturally gravitated to?
It actually was a pretty natural thing, I mean when I had just started junior school, I happened to see one of the school bands which must have sounded terrible, I didn't realize it but school bands always sound terrible, unfortunately. But I saw the cello, and I was woah, I really want to play that and my dad was like 'great, well that's fantastic', so we got our hands on a cello and then I sort of moved into different instruments throughout the years. But from that moment it was actually quite natural, there wasn't a point where I thought, yeah I definitely want to be a musician. It was just steadily moving into that all the way through my childhood and into my adulthood.
You never wanted to do acting, it was always music?
I really enjoyed acting. I found that I am not particularly good at it, but I always enjoyed it. But it wasn't my calling.
So when did you first meet Luna, the other half of Sweet Tempest?
We met in the shittest bar in Copenhagen, which happens to be my favourite bar in Copenhagen called the Moose and it was just a night out, you know and we met and we kinda had like a little fling at the start and we just became friends after that.
Basically we sort of hang out once a while, on and off throughout the years and then one day she was having trouble with a music project and I offered to help her finish it on the production side and then one night we just happened to get really, really drunk and then we wrote 'Never Break' . A Sweet Tempest song and then when we did that it was kinda like 'this is pretty cool, maybe we should do some more' and it really didn't take long before we became a band after that.
Tell us about your latest EP Bones and Machinations?
After the first EP which was very sweet and tender and all of that, we had been playing around with a lot of different genres and we are both big fans of old school rock n roll and I think that EP the second one, it was kinda us trying some things and still maintaining the old sound. But trying a few new things, you know a bit more crunch on the guitars, a slightly more dirty sound and all that, so seeing where we can take it and I think in a way it is like a stepping stone that EP, moving towards another venture so to speak.
All our music is quite personal to us and then sort of wrapped up in life, I think what we usually say is it's some kind of a fairytale thing which to be fair it kinda of is. I mean we are sort of dreamers, me and Luna in a lot of ways, so it becomes that way quite naturally. It's also in a lot of ways us playing around that EP I'd say.
You also produced the hit soundtrack to the film Neon Demon in 2016 'Demon Dance' directed by Nicolas Winding Refn - how did that come about?
Well, a bit of sheer luck actually. I mean as you probably know I am related to the director but he's not the kinda guy whose like 'oh we are family here's a job kinda thing'. His not like that at all. So what actually happened was that they had a track planned for the film which didn't work out and they were in a panic and he was like let's try and give Julian a call, you know, maybe he can help us out, maybe he can't. And then I got down and fuckin' helped them out, and they were really happy with it and then it just sort of moves along by itself from there and it was pretty smooth sailing. So it was basically luck, to be honest, well a bit of skill on my part naturally but yeah it was just a just a fortunate situation and I had time on my hands.
Did you meet any of the actors in the film?
I did very briefly, I mean it was in Cannes, it was really interesting being in Cannes, it was like a circus it was completely nuts. But at the same time, I love the party, I love all that stuff, you know I love going crazy, but I didn't really feel so into that. So my contact with that whole crew at that point was pretty limited cause really I just wanted to enjoy my gin & tonic and have a quiet conversation with people. But they seemed very nice the crew, very friendly.
Where you expecting all the love you got from the soundtrack 'Demon Dance'?
No, not at all. I mean I have been doing that genre sort of for myself, for quite some time, I have always enjoyed making that genre of music I think maybe I have always been a bit mad about it, like I haven't been very public about that music when I have been writing it and so I have just kept it to myself, there are so many great dance, techno artists out there and I didn't really feel like I was sort of necessary in that picture. So it was really fantastic to get that sort of appreciation and it has just given me the confidence to just keep working on it and there is more on the way.
I have also got an EP and a full-length album planned for the next half year or so, so it is going to be plenty to do there, I am super stressed out.
Is there a message you would like to get across in your music?
I think that with the music that I write a big focus for me is regardless of the genre or whatever it might be, I really like that there is a certain feeling attached to it. I mean I am classically educated so to speak, you know, cello, piano, when I was a kid, all that stuff, so you know classical music is very dramatic. There's always a lot of emotion attached to it, and I mean that's very important to me, it might not seem that way when you are thinking about techno or but techno can really make you want to dance or makes you want to fuck, all these sort of primal things.
The Sweet Tempest which is very just you know melancholic, you know, loving, I think if I was to send a message it would definitely be to have emotion in the music as much as possible, and I don't feel like we get that in popular music nowadays in the same way. It's very important, we are losing it a little bit, which is worrying.
What's been your proudest moment so far?
Oh that's really difficult, I mean cause some of my proudest moment haven't been particularly spectacular, some of it has just been a finished album, the first album that I ever released with my old band Hard Candy many years ago, that was like wow, that was fantastic, first real release, that was wonderful, playing the first massive concert it's just completely overwhelming, it's amazing, just seeing the audience who's there with you backing you up.
I think also with Luna, when I saw her, all bands have to train up sometimes and there was this special moment where I could see that now she was in the zone and she fucking nailed it so hard and I was just standing there behind her, with my guitar and keyboard just being like 'fuck yes!' It was a really, really special moment and the Neon Demon gotta say that was pretty amazing.
What ideas changed your life?
You know being a musician can be really tough, it can be very punishing, there's no one who says that when you are good at music you are going to make money. It doesn't work like that, unfortunately. And you know there was many punishing years with broken projects and all kinds of stuff and I guess there was a moment where I sort of reinvented myself, where I took a look at what I wanted to do and how I could achieve the things that I wanted to do.
Well basically I gained a different perspective of myself, and that actually, when I really took the production seriously, the creating music seriously...I used to think that I wanted to be a frontman, I wanted to be out singing and doing all these stuff, but really creating the music, doing the production, you know making all these things was what it was all about and now I am actually getting somewhere.
I think it was a change of focus, I think when you find that, what's going to make you happy, music is making me happy and if I can make my life function and work around that, well then damn that's jackpot!
What would you do to make the world a better place?
That's a really difficult question, I worry a lot about these things and I guess I try to do my part but now when you put it into a perspective like that I am like shitttt. Change the world, how am I going to change the world, I think it's just inspire people around me, take care of each other and the planet that we live on.
What would you fill a swimming pool with if it could be anything?
That would probably be a mix of I think like a large supply of ice cold beer s and a room for a bit of gin & tonic, my closest friends and I would say and a lot of those sort of blow up swimming pool toys.
So what's next for the Sweet Tempest?
So basically both me and Luna have been hard at work on our separate things, she's releasing an album soon, and I am releasing my albums as well so we just basically said let's just give each other the space to do that, cause you know it is a complete mess like finishing several albums at the same time. And then we are going to pick up writing the first sort of real album.
So when can we see the latest album from Sweet Tempest coming out?
I think that we are probably a bit rusty you know, so I think what we are going to start doing is just focusing on writing music and play a bunch of small gigs just keep the blood flowing and get to drink loads of whisky and yeah just sort of get the ball rolling again.
Any last words?
Keep making music everyone and do LSD at least once in your life!
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