Before, SWEDEN UNLIMITED was known as the go-to design agency for anything fashion or ecommerce related the three founders were known simply as just SWEDEN, the band. A Casiocore electro-rock group with a unique symmetrical look that often headlined at lower east side nightclubs or music venues.
Formed in the mid-1990s, SWEDEN was a New York City-based trio comprised of twin sisters Alex and Leja Kress on vocals, guitars, and synths, with Richard Agerbeek on Casio guitar and drum machine. They explored a sound that took the shoegaze fuzz of Spacemen 3 and mixed it with an electro-pop, drum machine-heavy, New Order-like atmosphere. Richard’s voice had an abrasive quality echoing Mark E. Smith’s ruggedness in Manchester’s post-punk heroes, the Fall. Meanwhile, the sisters shared lead vocals and harmonized in what sounded like early-80s Bananarama on psychedelics.
The journey started when the three found each other through the downtown art and fashion scenes. Leja and Alex were in front of and behind the camera, modeling at fashion shows and shooting interesting people in the NYC downtown fashion and music scene. Richard was the frontman in a few indie bands and a usual suspect in art and fashion circles.
They bonded over a shared love of Spectrum, Suicide, Stereolab, Stone Roses, and The Smiths—telling themselves that if they started a band, the name must begin with an “S” so they could be filed in with their favorite artists. So a good friend and artist, Jack Early, who had a knack for turning nouns into adjectives, took one look at the retro 80s-loving trio and said, “You guys look so SWEDEN; your band name should be SWEDEN.”
SWEDEN emerged as a regular fixture of the downtown music scene, playing at trendy spots like Coney Island High, Luna Lounge, Don Hills, Mercury Lounge, CBGB’s, and Spa. They released a full-length called “4-Track Demo” in 1999, a full-length CD called “CD-8T12” in 2000, and in 2002, issued a single twelve-inch titled “Keep It Set.”
But even aspiring rock stars need to eat and pay rent, so while at night we played Club Spa for drink tickets, during the day we were making some of the earliest ecommerce and flash websites for New York’s fashion insiders.
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