Music Midtown is a special memory for Sweden’s First Aid Kit

How sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg learned to enjoy touring again.

Credit: Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP

Credit: Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP

When sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg hit the stage at Music Midtown on Sunday, Sept. 17, it won’t be the first time they’ve played for the throngs at Piedmont Park.

“The crowd was amazing,” Klara said of that 2018 appearance in Atlanta. Playing on the same bill as Kacey Musgraves, who was also at Music Midtown that year, is a special memory, too. AS for Atlanta, she recalls “the wonderful karaoke bars, but mostly the absolutely wonderful fans.”

The road to that success, and all those fans, began back in 2007 when they started uploading songs online and started gaining notice on their hometown, Stockholm, Sweden. As the daughters of Bengt Söderberg of the band Lolita Pop, it’s no surprise that they began following in their father’s footsteps. The duo’s alt-folk sound eventually got the attention of an international audience, with Rolling Stone naming “Emmylou” one of the 10 best singles of 2012. They’ve been nominated three times for best international groups by the U.K.’s Brit Awards and back home in Sweden, they took home four Grammi awards in 2013, including album of the year for “The Lion’s Roar.”

Credit: Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

Credit: Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

With a huge international following and extensive touring, First Aid Kit blew up, but Klara hit a wall.

“I have definitely struggled with touring in the past. Not with playing shows, but traveling and the all consuming amount of touring over 12 years,” she said. “I ended up playing shows where I was so tired and I didn’t want to be there. That was what was so sad to me, this is my favorite thing in the whole world and now I can’t enjoy it. So we looked at setting it up so that it doesn’t happen again. And now, we have a rule where we only go on tour for two weeks at a time. Now, we’re excited to go on tour, it’s this exotic thing we get to do and we just get to appreciate it even more, I would say.”

Klara finds peace in touring now and is able to enjoy the hard work they both have put in over the years. “Going on tour, we plan the setlist to make it a fun, dynamic show, but I don’t know if it’s that we’ve been doing it for so long, but I just kind of trust it will resonate with the right people. We’ve come to a point where we can be honest about touring and we both think it is still what we want to do.”

In trying to find a balance that allows them to do what they love, Klara and Johanna have grown closer together through their shared bond of storytelling.

“I am obsessed with the lyrics and Johanna is better with production,” said Klara, describing the role each plays in the process.

Credit: Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP

Credit: Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP

On the sisters’ latest album “Palomino,” released in November 2022, there is a maturity that reflects their 15 years of making music. The songs get personal, as in “Angel,” where the group touches on emotional difficulties: “I’ve been afraid all of my life, crippled with anxiety, shame and doubt./ And sometimes, sometimes I’d like to shout, At the top of my lungs and just let it out.”

The duo explores those universal feelings of anxiety, along with the compassion and forgiveness needed to overcome them. And that anxiety extends to the act of creating new music.

“I always have this moment where I think I will never write another song,” Klara said. “In the past, that would have freaked me out, I would have felt done, like the well is dry. There’s no more songs. And now I have learned that’s the way I need to work, and Johanna too. I am just so grateful that people take these songs to heart, and there’s nothing better in the whole world than watching a crowd of people sing along. It’s very moving to me. I am so excited to play.”


First Aid Kit at Music Midtown

3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17. Festival takes place Sept. 15-17. $155 to $1,525. Piedmont Park.