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Fever Ray

As Fever Ray, Karin Dreijer broadens and deepens the shape-shifting electronic pop of their former group the Knife, exploring identity, sexuality, and belonging even more fully with their music and imagery. The moody character sketches of 2009's Fever Ray gave a more personal and intimate perspective to the icy atmospheres and pitch-shifted vocals they perfected with the Knife; on 2017's fiery Plunge, Dreijer delivered frequently thrilling manifestos on queerness, politics, and desire. Though 2023's Radical Romantics took a lighter, more playful approach to these themes, Fever Ray remained committed to pushing artistic boundaries, questioning society's limitations, and continuing an artistic legacy that bridged synth pop's roots and cutting-edge innovation. Born in Gothenburg, Sweden, Dreijer began playing guitar at age ten. After working as a web designer, in the early '90s they founded the band Honey Is Cool, who released several EPs and a pair of albums (1997's Crazy Love and 1999's Early Morning Are You Working?). Following the group's disbandment, Dreijer focused their energy on the Knife, the electro-pop project they formed with their brother Olof in 1999. Thanks to their vivid, sometimes unsettling songs and flair for striking costumes and design, the Knife became one of the most musically and visually inventive acts of the 2000s. The duo's self-titled 2001 debut folded industrial textures and whimsical touches like panpipes and saxophone into subversively catchy electro-pop, an approach they sharpened on 2003's Deep Cuts, and gave a moodier, more personal cast on 2006's Silent Shout. Dreijer began working on Fever Ray after they had their second child and the Knife finished the Silent Shout tour. Developing demos and song ideas on their own, they then worked with Silent Shout collaborator and producer Christoffer Berg. Word of the project surfaced in mid-2008 and the first music, an instrumental version of "If I Had a Heart," appeared on Fever Ray's MySpace page a few months later. Also featuring contributions from Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid, Fever Ray was first available in January 2009 as a digital download with a physical release that March. Darker, more streamlined, and more confessional than Dreijer's work with the Knife, Fever Ray won critical praise and was a Top Ten hit in Sweden and Norway; it also cracked the Top Ten of the Heatseekers Albums and Top Dance/Electronic Albums charts in the U.S. Following Fever Ray's release, Dreijer juggled a number of different projects. Later in 2009, they wrote the music for Dirty Diaries, an anthology of feminist pornographic short films. They also returned to the Knife for Tomorrow, In a Year, an opera inspired by Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species that also featured Mt. Sims and Planningtorock; its music was released in 2010. The following year, Dreijer contributed the song "The Wolf" to the film Red Riding Hood and composed the score for a stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's 1968 horror film Hour of the Wolf. After the Knife released 2013's Shaking the Habitual and went on an extensive tour captured by 2014's Shaken-Up Versions, the duo disbanded. Along with working on Fever Ray material, in 2016 Dreijer composed and produced the music for the play Vahák. In 2017, they issued the Fever Ray single "To the Moon and Back" shortly before the surprise release of October's full-length Plunge (the album received a physical release in February 2018). With a creative team including producers Johannes Berglund, Peder Mannerfelt, and Nídia, and violinist Sara Parkman, the album reflected on sexuality, sensuality, and what it means to be part of a family on its ambitious tracks. At that year's Swedish Grammys, Dreijer and the rest of the production team behind Plunge won the Producer of the Year award. The 2019 concert album Live at Troxy documented Plunge's elaborate live show, which featured Dreijer working with female and non-binary artists over the age of 40. That year, Fever Ray and Björk remixed each others' tracks, with Björk taking on Plunge's "This Country" and Fever Ray reworking Utopia's "Features Creatures" (the Knife also contributed a different remix of "Features Creatures" to the project). That December, Plunge Remix collected versions of the album's songs from artists such as Glasser, Paula Temple, Olof Dreijer, and Tami T. Around that time, Dreijer started work on Fever Ray's third album. Working in a Stockholm studio they built with their brother, they collaborated with Vessel, Aasthma, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross, and reunited with Nídia, Berglund, and Olof Dreijer. Arriving in March 2023, Radical Romantics offered a lighter and more danceable incarnation of Fever Ray's music that continued Plunge's explorations of different kinds of love and togetherness.
© Heather Phares /TiVo


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