Basic Instinct

By Dan MacIntosh

Posted January 24, 2013 in Music

Photos by Eliot Hazel

Indietronica duo Niki & The Dove is ready to ease your mind

Malin Dahlström (vocals) and Gustaf Karlöf (production) comprise the mysteriously named dance duo, Niki & The Dove. As you might guess from its exotic names, Niki & The Dove is an import act from Stockholm, Sweden. The group is signed to Sub Pop, which just released its full-length album, Instinct.

One of the album’s initial singles is titled, “DJ, Ease My Mind,” which suggests dance music may be about more than just getting your groove on. Speaking of grooves, listening to Niki & The Dove sometimes feels like the combination of Björk’s wigged-out singing, matched to Robyn’s club-ready beats.

No matter how you describe them, though, Niki & The Dove is a band on a mission.

“I think the mission of all kinds of expressions is a way of giving human beings some comfort, and giving people hope, something to live for,” Karlöf explains. “I read a biography about Stravinsky and he said that the purpose of music is to make people communicate together and also make people communicate with God. And I think he has a point. (Music) is a way of creating communication between human beings, and also a kind of a comfort.”

Karlöf is convinced that, in line with the act’s latest album title, making music is somewhat instinctual. “When you find that spark that is meaningful,” he explains, “and you try to develop that spark into something—into a song—after a while you want to almost lose control of the song in a way and see where the song wants to go by itself. That may be a kind of an instinct. I hope we have some kind of an instinct when we write music.”

For the same reasons no self-respecting music fan would ever ask, ‘Which one is Pink?’ when speaking with the band Pink Floyd, it is also highly improper to pry into the meaning of the name Niki & The Dove. However, for the record: there is no one in it named Niki, nor is there anybody referred to as a dove.

“The name of the band is something that we choose not to talk about,” says Karlöf, remaining relatively mum on the subject. “It has a meaning for me and Malin, of course,” he continues, “but it’s nice for people to have their own opinion about the name and their personal view upon the name. We don’t tell people what to think about the name.” Just as handling a rose starts to decrease its natural beauty over time, due to being touched too much, over-discussing a group’s name can sometimes have a negative impact upon its significance. “When you talk about stuff, in some way it loses value,” Karlöf is convinced. “If you keep certain stuff untouched, word-wise, then it still has something that you can’t reach.”

You might say this hands-off approach to the band’s name is a deliberate reaction to modern culture, where information is always so readily available—and literally at your fingertips.

“It’s a kind of statement towards the society we live in where you can find information about anything, anytime with your phone in your hand,” says Karlöf. “It’s important not to lose the value of the mystique of things in our world.”

The combination of Dahlström’s exotic vocals and open-ended lyrics, combined with Karlöf’s inventive instrumentation, adds up to one beautifully surprising voyage into the mystic. Just give them half a chance, and Niki & The Dove will, almost instinctively, ease your troubled mind.

Niki & The Dove at The Barn, University Of California Riverside, 900 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 827.2776; Wed, Jan. 30. 7:30pm. $12 non-UCR student, $5 UCR presale.



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