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Having managed to gain a foothold on the music scene individually before starting their indie electronic duo Modern Tales, Jonas Rathsman and his younger brother singer/songwriter Franz Novotny are now focusing their energies on their shared project. Leaving their preconceived notions behind and just focusing on making some music, they’ve just released their second single Wide Awake on RÜFÜS DU SOL's Rose Avenue Records, which comes off the heels of Monster, the duo's debut track. We speak to the Swedish brothers about their exciting latest single built on hypnotizing synth chords, ask them about their strengths and short- and long-term plans, and discuss their debut album Stars Align expected to be released in June 2023.

How are you and where do you answer us from?
We are currently in our studio in Gothenburg (Sweden), where we both live and make all of our music.
You’ve just released your new single, Wide Awake, and announced your debut album, Stars Align. 2023 promises to be a very important year in the growth of your indie electronic duo Modern Tales. Have you been waiting a long time for releasing it?
It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for our music to come out. We’ve had the album ready for quite some time now, but it takes a while to get all the bits and pieces together before you can press the button and actually release it. Anything from changing the playlist and adding new songs, to the visual side like artwork and video. The rose avenue team has been absolutely amazing, so everything came together beautifully!
You are not newcomers to music, far from it. Jonas, you were established locally, then globally, with your techno productions. You now have over a hundred thousand monthly listeners on Spotify and many of your releases rack up millions of streams. At what stage you’d say is your solo project?
I’ve been producing and releasing music as Jonas Rathsman and touring for over 15 years, that is a long time for sure! When we started making music as Modern Tales it just felt so right to both of us. It was different to the music I was making as Jonas Rathsman, which really triggered something in me. That feeling you get when you learn something new or the excitement you feel when you’ve created something you’re really proud of. It feels really special to create music with my brother, and we’re both crazy invested in this project! I love my solo project and I’m still gonna keep doing it for as long as I can, but right now I’m focusing most of my time on Modern Tales.
Franz, you followed in your brother's footsteps and made a name on the scene with singles like Hit & Run or Dive. How has your vision of the music industry changed since you took your first steps in it?
Well, it has changed quite a lot in many ways for me. I started producing music back in 2008. Mostly what you now call EDM, but also Trance/Tech Trance. Eventually, I got bored of being tied to one or two genres, so I started making loads of different styles and then I started singing. So my vision went from a quite narrow view to a more broad spectrum that has given me loads of amazing opportunities, and that has also shown me how many different things you can do in the music industry. Also, I’ve realised that the music industry is fast evolving and changing a lot faster than I thought when I first started making music. It’s gone from Myspace and music blogs to media such as Spotify and Soundcloud, which has definitely opened my eyes to the fact that I always need to look for new music and upcoming new styles.
Last but not least: damn, you have to work hard for a music project to work. I thought I was going to be able to make one song and boom, I’m set! But no, there’s so much work to be done. So my vision has gone from “hey, I can do it all by myself,” to making sure I work with great people in the music industry who can help me excel and boost my creativity. Like my dear brother Jonas, he is mostly nice!
Now you've joined forces, pooled your creative visions and worked together on Modern Tales. 2020, a year that we will all remember due to uncertainty, fear and isolation was very important in the decision to embark on this new path, wasn’t it?
Yes, the Covid years… If we speak from a musician’s point of view, we’d say it was very rough. Obviously, the whole music industry shut down in many ways, so inspiration pools like festivals and clubs just completely vanished. We think that contributed to a wide range of confusion for many musicians, including us. Both of us were trying to make new music for our solo projects but had a really hard time knowing what to make. So we decided to make music together instead, and boy was that a great decision. After many years of not being able to figure out what type of music we could do together, we finally had a great recipe and a great output. So, thank you but also fuck you, Covid!
What were the first steps you took with this shared project? Was it easy to work on a project with a common vision, or did you have disagreements when making some decisions?
It’s been pretty smooth for us, mainly because it’s a completely new project, so we sort of left all our preconceived notions behind and just focused on making some music. Sometimes the song is made really quickly, and sometimes we revisit it but we’re almost always on the same page with the same vision. The same goes for the visual part, we like the same things and we’re pretty good at giving/taking. Then, of course, Franz will always be the younger brother so he will never get to have the final say anyway, (laughs).
Your songs reflect the human experience, what other themes inspire you when creating?
There are so many sources you can get inspiration from. Sometimes it’s by digging for some new music, watching a live show or even when we work on our own live show, we get really inspired. But sometimes it’s really just about taking it easy, taking some time off and living your life without music.
Your debut single, Monster, was very well received by the public and specialized critics. What do you think is the main strength of Modern Tales compared to other musical projects?
Oh well… Tricky question, since there are so many amazing musical projects out there. Without comparing ourselves to anyone, we think that people might like the fact that we’re making four-to-the-floor songs but with full vocals on – with a touch of the melancholic Swedish/nordic darkness…

And what can we expect from your forthcoming album Stars Align?
Expect a quite wide range of different styles of music with a cinematic feel. Everything from happy vibes to darker sounds.
If this album was a feeling or emotion, what would it be?
Curiosity or maybe hope.
You're set to play RÜFÜS DU SOL's Sundream festival in Baja this May ahead of the album release. What do you enjoy most about live performances?
The fact that we get to showcase our music in the most intimate way in front of a crowd is absolutely fantastic. For both of us, the goal is to make the audience feel something together with us, and there is no better way to do it than doing it live.
And where would you like to be with Modern Tales in 5 years?
To be able to make a living from creating music and performing is the dream obviously. We’d love to tour some parts of the world, such as Australia, North & South America and Asia. Would be amazing to have designed a big show with visuals, lights and a full orchestra! We both talked about how it would be awesome to produce a soundtrack for a movie one day. Learn how to play every instrument and make some fucking money for once!

David Alarcón

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