Movits: The World's Greatest Swedish Hip-Hop Swing Jazz Band

05/03/2011 07:08 am ET Updated Jul 03, 2011

CDs and books arrive. Every day. Too many for one man to assess. So --- not all the time, but some days --- I ask my wife to preview the music.

The other day, she was listing to Movits (pronounced: Move-its), which is, according to the publicity sheet, a hip-hop swing jazz band. From Sweden. And, yes, the lyrics are in Swedish.

Anyway. She's listening. And, suddenly, she's not alone. The nine-year-old has been sucked out of her room and is doing some crazy dance she learned in some previous life.

And suddenly I am promising to get Movits on the phone so she can help me interview them --- this happened, she squeaked a hello, and ran off --- and, if possible, to meet them.

Weeks later, Movits is still in heavy rotation around here. As it should be in your home, if you take just a few minutes and listen to "Sammy Davis, Jr" (translated lyrics are at the bottom of this screen):

Movits is three gents: Johan and Anders Rensfeldt, who are brothers, and Joakim Nilsson, who is like a brother. They're from Luleau, 500 miles north of Stockholm. And we might never have heard of them were it not for Stephen Colbert, who found them on an obscure music site and brought them over for a guest spot on his show. For a few days, they were huge --- it's called the "Colbert bump." Then they went home and made their best CD yet, "Out of My Head." [To buy the CD, click here. For the MP3 download, click here. To buy the MP3 download of "Sammy Davis Jr," click here.]

Want to meet Movits? Let's start with Joakim Nilsson, the sax player.

JK: Your home town --- Lulea --- has 45,000 people. Are you the biggest celebrities the town produced?

JN: No. A lot of hockey players come from Lulea.

JK: Were you hockey stars?

JN: We started out as hockey players --- well, I played floorball.

JK: What went wrong?

JN: We weren't good enough.

JK: What's it like there?

JN: In winter, in Fahrenheit --- 15 degrees below zero.

JK: Can you go home again?

JN: Anders still lives in Lulea. We live in Stockholm.

JK: I love those dinner jackets. Where do I get one?

JN: Shanghai. We played there last year and found a great tailor.

JK: Your videos look like they cost a fortune.

JN: The tech takes two months --- there's a lot of tech. We save money because we make them with our friends from northern Sweden. And Johan did most of the green screen work --- - he and Anders are good on graphics.

JK: Two brothers and one outsider --- tell me your votes are equal.

JN: We've been together since 2003. We discovered the sound of Movits together. If I'm their slave, they do a good job of making me believe I'm not.

JK: "Sammy Davis" has a 1930s feel. You write that you were "born in the 80s," but how much of your head is in the '30s?

JN: I say that I would love to be living in Chicago in the '30s. But then I think: a week without the Internet?

JK: You come from a Socialist country. Is your music political?

JN: Very. But it's subtle. That is: unofficially, we have no plan for world domination. We're all about having fun and singing in Swedish, but unofficially....

JK: I just realized: You're all....Socialists! You got a free education --- through college! How did you use it?

JN: I have a degree in philosophy. I wrote a thesis on the metaphysics and value of death.

JK: Who do you most want to meet in America?

JN: Megan Fox. I think we'd have great conversations.

That last answer spun my head. I moved on to lead singer Anders Rensfeldt.

JK: You were at a party. They played Benny Goodman. And that was it?

AR: We were looking for a new direction. When we heard that music, it seemed like the way to go. So we went back to the studio and re-recorded what we had until we created dance music that makes you happy.

JK: And do people dance when you play?

AR: Some 1930s Swing. An occasional Lindy. Mostly, uncontrolled freestyle dancing.

JK: In daily life, do you live the music? Are you hep cats?

AR: We're not walking around in zoot suits.

JK: How did you avail yourself of your free education?

AR:I didn't get far enough in college to write a thesis. My brother hasn't been at all --- he's more of a hustler.

Get the idea? They are fun.


Äppelknyckarjazz. Translated, it means "Apple stealing jazz," which refers to the apple-stealing pants that style-crazed Swedish kids wore in the '30s and '40s).


Born in the 80′s
In the middle of it
Then I was just the child, or maybe the grandchild
Not at all interested in tomorrow
Reality, really?
Yeah, whatever
Back then it was Abbey Road, Plura and Rolling Stones
on the gramophone 'til the day I moved away from home
Now it's Evert Taube, Dylan, Common and Wailing Souls
Wonder where the inspiration's coming from
They say I sound Old School, baby
Like Frank and Sammy Davis
Sing in the rain like Gene Kelly
No, I just can't believe what they say
but they tell me it was better way back in the days...

Not the one to be strivin' backwards
But black shoes after 6 PM
I bought sneaks for half of the money
the rest I put in the mattress, savin' up for a rainy day
No, if that's the way it's supposed to be
Ain't really got nothing between the sheets
Meanwhile the old folks dream 'bout Jerry Lee
Gamblin' away their pension on lottery
The house catches fire - For example
Call the fire department - Call the police
Lawyers - Lord Jesus,
Just as long as I don't miss the reruns
of The Man From Uncle
Garfunkel and Simon
I grew up on A-team, Airwolf and MacGyver
'cause I've heard from the elders
that everything was better back in the days
even the weather

This is what we in Lulea call a James Brown Moment:
They call it a daydream, sayin' it was different
But grandma, it's alright
That I should grow up, cut my hair and get a job
and not tryin' to be James Brown
But was it not the same,
For young mom and dad, when it happened,
Woodstock, back in the 70′s
or was it maybe 69′
I'm just wonderin'
if it wasn't just really all the same?

[Cross-posted from]