Interview with Bara Jonson and Free
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
It’s never been an option for neither one of us, it’s always something that have been there since very young age. We’ve always have had music in our heads and hearts. It is such a big part of us and hopefully it will never go away. The “choice” to perform was just the next natural step. Songs wants to be sung. Music wants to be played. We just do what’s natural… for us… and it’s very difficult for us to imagine a life without the music.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Well, here we differ a bit from each other. Malin: I have always found solace and peace in nature. Riding my horse while my beautiful dog runs by our side is where I find strength. Also, family and friends make up for a big part of my off-stage life and the joy and sometimes difficulties these relations carry with them is something that very much completes my artist life in a very fulfilling way.
Jonas: I have a teenage son, born, raised and living in the USA. For me, the contact and interaction I can have with him, thanks to the internet and gaming, is something that’s very important. And, we are having so much fun doing it. Our gaming are the adventures we do together; we build, create and explore, and are making digital memories for the both of us when we can’t spend time together in real life.
How long has your band been around?
We met in the Fall of 2011 at a Ukulele class. Jonas as the substitute teacher and Malin wanting to learn to play this little instrument. We soon found out that we were better off starting a band together and so we did!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are based out of a small village in the south of Sweden. Coming from Sweden with the sociopolitical safety this carries with is of course something that has made it possible to write about sociopolitical things. Something one never should take for granted, always have to stand up for and protect. A fact’s a fact, as a matter of fact! At least it used to be.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Coming back to music again in 2007 through something called Second Life, I (Jonas) had to create an avatar. Having the nickname “Jonsson” (short for Jonas) with my family, I had to choose the last name from a very short predetermined list, at that time. One of the names I found on this list was ‘Jonson’ which I combined with the Swedish word for “just” or “only”, and Bara Jonson was born.
Starting out together as a band we decided to latch on to the hype Bara Jonson had created with the 2011 Emmy nominated HBO documentary ‘When Strangers Click’, by kicking it off in Second Life.
This meant of course that Malin also had to create an avatar name.
Malin: ‘I am as a person very independent. I enjoy the solitude on my farm as well as being together with my family. I am my own person, I am Free! Last name wasn’t so important but Free Balan sounded good.’
Bara Jonson and Free Balan’ did some shows before their name changed to ‘Bara Jonson and Free’. The question is: Has the name changed again after the incident at their album reveal 2022 and ‘BJF’ New Era?
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
It was by far our showcase at Midem in Cannes, France 2019.
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, in spite of 6 months of intense preparations
From stressed French technicians that didn’t know how their own keyboard worked, a power failure that hit just before our show, to one of these technicians jumping on stage behind the drums to play songs he never heard before due to Jonas digital kick drum not functioning. This whole show became a black hole for us. We completely blacked out but somehow still managed to perform the show.
The reason why this still is a good memory for us comes from just one comment afterwards from one of the delegates, from the music industry: “Anybody can be good when everything goes according to plan but you both proved that you can make a great show under any circumstances!”
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
We just have to say that our own festival, Lilla By Festivalen, in Rinkaby Sweden is one of our favorite venues. Since we can make this festival just like we want it as artists, we do just that. A huge stage with professional sound and light, at a beautiful location. You are all invited for 2023!
When it comes to places we want to play, we were selected #INES Talent 20-21 but our European tour to all their showcases came to a halt due to the Corona pandemic. We are of course very interested in doing this tour, one way or the other.
Also, we were in the discussions of playing both Glastonbury, UK and Summerfest in Milwaukee 2020 which was postponed, for the same reason. We really hope this can come true in 2023!
We are also looking forward to Spike festival in Bulgaria comes May. Our first time performing in this country and so curious what they will think about our Crockpop music.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Our dreams and goal have never been about the opportunity to perform together with any specific musicians or stars. It has always been about being able to reach people with our music.
We love to be on stage, small or big. As long as there is a crowd in front of it, we will give them a show to remember.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Believe in yourself and in your music but remember it can take 10 years to breakthrough “over a night”.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Believe in the team and remember to network. Always thank the ones helping you on the way.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
That’s almost an impossible question to answer. How can you choose between a song for Malins daughter in ‘A Mothers Wish’, Jonas son in ‘With You’, refugees fleeing war in ‘Safe Ground’, domestic violence in ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’, climate crisis in ‘TIRO II’ or a colder and harder political world in
‘An ordinary Day’, ‘Marion and Me’ and ‘The American Fall’?
We create songs about life, love and empathy from our hearts as well as from our minds.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
The most requested song is ‘Appetite’; about a strong independent woman.
Most fun to play is ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ since when our dancers came into our lives.
Our favorite song is ‘Knock Knock; our hidden song on the vinyl album BJF New Era, Only available there and not on any digital outlets nor streaming services like Spotify.
We have also given an exclusive right to only two radio stations to play Knock Knock: CashboxRadio.ca and WeRockFM.com.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
The process varies a lot. Our inspirations come from so many places, as described earlier.
The main thing with our songs is that they reflect us and who we are.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Live, love, learn and please stop being so afraid. The sky is the limit!
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Yes of course we have! We are two different people with different personalities. However, we are also best friends that have worked a long time, 11 years, on this project. This means we know how we function and what is needed to move forward when, and if, a bump on the road would appear.
We are in this together and with the same end goal… to be able to play our music for you.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We have just released our third album, our second in English, and we are promoting BJF New Era as much we can, wherever in the world our music will take us. Also, our latest single ‘The Sky Is The Limit’ has just been put out there for you all to hear. Enjoy!
We also want to get you into the Christmas spirit with our song ‘Merry Christmas’ which is available already.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
We are of course on most social medias: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok etc. However, the new cool thing we want to recommend is our enhanced vinyl LP; updatable Augmented Reality together with our self-developed app.
Here you frequently will get additional content; songs, video snippets, interviews that will not be available anywhere else. Our app is free and we do not collect any data from the users.