If you’re looking for something to thank for Mount Liberation Unlimted’s joyful and inventive take on disco and Balearica, it might be Sweden’s laissez-faire attitude to career progression.
“One of the benefits of coming from a country that’s not been to war for like 200 years is a lot of emphasis is put on leisure pursuits,” says Tom Lagerman. “So many of our friends do music – and none of them had parents saying ‘Oh, you should get a proper job, like being a lawyer.’ It’s only now we’re nearing thirty that we feel a bit of pressure from ourselves.”
That mental breathing space gave the duo a decade of working together before the release of their debut album on Studio Barnhus this month. The pair first met in their late teens while studying at a specialist music school in Stockholm (“Nikolas was in the year above me and was a star drummer,” says Tom) and ended up playing together in what they describe as “an indie folk pop band”. But while away recording with the band in the Swedish countryside, they found themselves doing secret, late-night jam sessions where they’d work on more dancefloor-orientated music.
“We’d record all day in this beautiful house on the archipelago near Stockholm, then at night we found ourselves in this alternative studio jamming out techno,” says Nikolas, who mostly takes care of percussion and rhythm arrangements for the duo. Those early recording sessions eventually morphed into the duo’s first record as MLU, the ‘Astro Travelling Through Life’ EP in 2014, before ‘Double Dance Lover’, a glittering slice of Avalanches-esque house, their first release on Barnhus in 2016, brought them to more widespread attention.
After raking in the gigs thanks to killer early releases, the pair started to take things a little more seriously a few years back when the early buzz started to die down a little. “To start with we’d just be meeting up on random nights to drink beer, smoke weed and make music,” says Tom, the more talkative of the two. “But we had a real breakthrough when we decided to start going to the studio at 9am everyday like office hours. The funny thing is it actually amplified the fun rather than kill it.”
An expansive dancefloor record that includes Nile Rodgers-style guitar licks, classic euphoric house and nostalgia inducing 90s video game-style synth lines, MLU’s debut album is imbued with that intrinsically Swedish knack for a melody, and has been lifting the mid-afternoon mood in the Mixmag office for weeks now. But how do they feel about it finally being unleashed on the world?
“We’re super excited but super nervous too,” says Tom. “When we put the single out, that felt a bit like going for a massage for the first time in two years and getting this big knot out of your back that you didn’t even realise was there. Whatever the reaction it’s a huge achievement for us – but we just can’t fucking wait for it to be out there!”
‘Mount Liberation Unlimited’ by Mount Liberation Unlimited is out on May 31
Sean Griffiths is Mixmag's Deputy Editor. Follow him on Twitter