The band Koop formed in 1995 when Magnus Zingmark and Oscar Simonsson met in a club and began mixing and sampling to create a unique fusion jazz sound that won them a Grammy and a Gold certification more recently. Due to the slow process of sampling and meshing together multiple short samples of music from old records and other sources, Koop requires a long amount of time between albums. Their music is not quick to create.
Sons of Koop
“Sons of Koop” was released in 1997. The debut album for the band was a hit in Sweden. The album featured vocals from Cecilia Stalin, Stephen Simmonds, and others. Of all of the band’s albums, this is the least polished and most gritty.
Waltz for Koop
In 2002, Koop followed up with “Waltz for Koop” which established the duo as a worldwide artist, as it was their first album to hit a US Billboard Music chart. The album peaked at number 17 on Billboard’s Top Electronic Albums. Vocalist Cecilia Stalin is featured on the album, to much critical acclaim. A follow-up album of remixes and alternative tracks was released in 2004. “Waltz for Koop” earned a Swedish Grammy award in 2003.
The band’s third album was released in 2007, and has won the duo their most critical acclaim. The featured single on the album, “Koop Island Blues” showcases the vocals of Norwegian singer Ane Brun, who also co-wrote the song. The track was used in more than one video game soundtrack, and a US television commercial, as well as being featured on the US television dance show “So You Think You Can Dance.”
It is difficult to properly categorize Koop’s unique music style. One part jazz, one part electronica, with a heavy hand of swing and a pinch of Caribbean influence- the band will not be pigeonholed. The Swedish duo of Magnus Zingmark and Oscar Simonsson are known for sampling music from many eras and influences, which gives their pieces a timeless feeling of modern retro.
Mixing it Up
Koop led the cutting edge of the Swedish modern jazz movement. Their album, “Waltz for Koop,” featuring vocalists mixed over samples of various musical styles, created a dramatic and never before heard dynamic of jazz and techno. Borrowing from the drum beat of dance and electronic house mixes, the horns of a classic jazz quartet and the unusual backbeat of a steel drum, Koop’s music can evoke melancholy and joy in equal measures.
Jazz in Parts
The term “acid jazz” has been used to describe this style of music, but Koop managed to take their style of jazz far beyond any classification. It’s perhaps easier to pick apart the influences that can be heard in the music than it is to categorize the finished product. Koop seamlessly combines bossa nova, big band, and fusion jazz. The result is impressive and unlike any other.
The vocalists who accompany Koop are the perfect high note and support. Sweetly simple and yet laced with emotion, singers such as Yukimi Nagano, Cecelia Stalin and Mikael Sundin contribute their own spin to each song. The feeling evoked by the vocals range from melancholy to relaxed to sultry- all in perfect harmony with the rhythms laid down by the dynamic duo of Simonsson and Zingmark. Koop manages to keep all of this collaboration accessible and enjoyable.
The band known as Koop is really just a duo, Magnus Zingmark and Oscar Simonsson have been making music together since 1995. The Swedish jazz movement was just taking shape when Zingmark and Simonsson joined forces to create one of the singular most influential and unique musical sounds to come from the movement. As collaborators, they blended samples of other music and sounds to create a style of fusion jazz unlike any other.
Simonsson and Zingmark met in their hometown of Uppsala, North of Stockholm, Sweden. The pair met at a student club, where Zingmark was working as a DJ and Simonsson was playing in a jazz quintet. The young men decided to mix a tune for Zingmark’s DJ sets, and their first attempt was “Debussy mixed with jazz.” They worked hard together after to produce their first album in 1997, “Waltz for Koop.” The band albums all feature the duo dressed in makeup and women’s clothing. When asked about this statement, the pair said that they began this exploration with a picture they had taken which was later the cover for Waltz for Koop. They enjoyed it so much that they have done so ever since. They go on to further distinguish their individuality by shunning the macho image that is often portrayed by artists on their album covers.
The duo can credit influences such as hip-hop, trance, dance techno and house music as all blending together to create something altogether new. Zingmark and Simonsson spend endless hours creating each composition by meticulously mixing samples from a huge variety of sources, such as vintage albums, radio recordings and sounds of individual musical instruments to create their own sound. The band credits such influences as Swedish folk and jazz artists from the 1960's including Jan Johansson and Monica Zetterlund, United Future Organization and Jeff Mills for their musical leanings.