WATCH AMASON'S EPIC LIVE SESSION OF CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’
Music sensation Amason performs a cover of The Mamas and The Papas song about leaving troublesome reality and escaping to a place where worries don't exist.
California Dreaming isn’t just about the physical longing for warmer weather, palm trees and escaping the grey and cold reality for a sun drenched and cinematic existence. To be California Dreaming is also to hope, pray and wish for something to go the way you want it to, although deep down you know that it won’t. Getting the object of your affection to respond to your romantic invitation is perhaps the most common example of the idiom.
Depending on your interpretation and where your mind is; whether you're praying for something to go the way you want it to or if you're a restless idealist dreaming of leaving everything to make a brand new start in the golden state; Amason makes those distressing feelings come to life with their melancholic version of California Dreamin', a classic song which The Mamas and The Papas debuted in 1966. Amason's cover is the theme song for this year's H&M Loves Coachella campaign, and before the ad launches, H&M Life joined the band in the studio.
"It's truly a beautiful song and the era which it comes from has inspired and influenced us as a band," Gustav Ejstes says about the classic.
“California Dreamin’ is about escapism, and listening to the song makes you dream of running away, if it's physically or spiritually, it doesn’t matter,” Amason front woman, the exceptionally talented Amanda Bergman, says as she's sitting on a sofa with three cats, in the house her grandmother used to own, and where she has spent most of her childhood summers.
Amason is a so-called super group consisting of one woman and four men who are all parts of other musical constellations (Miike Snow, Dungen, Little Majorette) or have solo careers. When they are recording their cover, 50 years after California Dreamin’ was played for the first time, it’s the heart of winter and they're in Pontus Winnberg's house outside of Mariefred – a small Swedish town roughly an hour from Stockholm, the country's capital and biggest city. Many decades ago Pontus Winnberg's house was a school, then Amanda Bergman's grandmother bought it, and sold it some years ago.
Just like in the song, the sky is grey and the leaves are brown and nothing feels more distant than the laidback lifestyle that is connected to an idealistic dream of California. But the location that the songwriters had dreamt about in the 60s isn't necessarily of importance to the listener. California Dreamin' can be about whatever place you want it to be about.
WHAT PLACE ARE YOU DREAMING ABOUT RIGHT NOW?
“Summer in Sweden, that one week each year. Or anywhere where you feel completely trouble-free,” Amanda Berman says.
"Or at home because we're on tour or away travelling so much," drummer Nils Törnqvist adds.
Covering California Dreamin', or any song that everyone knows or has a relationship to, could perhaps be seen as a difficult task with a high risk of upsetting some devoted fans for making changes to something that's considered perfect in its original form, but according to Amason, music is made for everyone and anyone is free to interpret it in his or her own way.
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR OWN MARK ON A SONG LIKE THIS?
"That's very difficult for us to determine. We don't have a set plan of what we want a song to be when we sit down and play it. We play it and make our mark as it goes along," Amanda Bergman says and continues, with the other band members nodding their heads. "We're not surprised that our version of the song is more melancholic than the original since we're all a bit choleric."
It's a great song and we think most people like it. Doing this with H&M felt like a fun thing to try.
Amason started in 2012 on Pontus Winnberg's initiative. Like many before him, he became enchanted by Amanda Bergman's voice, and brought her, Gustav Ejstes, Nils Törnqvist, and his brother Petter Winnberg together for a meeting – which ended up with the five friends and acquaintances starting to make music together. They just won the Swedish Grammy for Album of the Year for their debut album Sky City.
"It all happened very quickly. We said yes to a gig one month after having played together for the first time. So we were pressured to get it together," Amanda Bergman says.
WHY ARE YOU NAMED AMASON?
"Pontus came up with the name. He had an idea to create car music, or rather road trip music, so we got the name from one of Volvo's most iconic models: The Volvo Amason [which was manufactured from 1956 to 1970]," says Gustav Ejstes.
YOU RELEASE SOME OF YOUR SONGS IN SWEDISH AND SOME IN ENGLISH. WHY IS THAT?
"It happens naturally as we're writing. When we get to the stage of writing the lyrics and the melody, we choose the language that feels best in the moment," says Amanda Bergman.
Amason is the first band ever to record a live session for H&M Life. Their cover of California Dreamin' doesn't only exist here – it's also the anthem for this year's H&M Loves Coachella campaign.
"We were thrilled. It's a great song and we think most people like it. Doing this with H&M felt like a fun thing to try and see what it would sound like," says Amanda Bergman.
Download California Dreamin’ on iTunes
THIS IS AMASON
The Swedish music collective started in 2012, as an initiative by Pontus Winnberg. The group is based in Stockholm, Sweden, but the members are often away on tour working on their other projects. Amason released their first full-length album Sky City in early 2015, which won them the Swedish Grammy for Album of the Year. A sophomore album is in the works.
AMANDA BERGMAN (Vocals/Synth/Backing Vocals): Also known from her previous music projects Hajen and Idiot Wind. She released her first solo album, Docks, under her own name in February.
GUSTAV EJSTES (Organ/Guitar/Vocals): Also known as the singer and frontman of psychedelic rock band Dungen.
NILS TÖRNQVIST (Drums/Percussion/Backing Vocals): Also known from the band Little Majorette.
PETTER WINNBERG (Bass/Guitar/Vocals): Also known from the band Little Majorette.
PONTUS WINNBERG (Piano/Synth/Backing Vocals): Also known as Avant from songwriting and production duo Bloodshy & Avant (the two have written songs for Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Sky Ferreira, Madonna and many more) and as one of three members in Miike Snow (who are performing at Coachella).