Sweden meets Australia in Kate Boy 

click to enlarge Kate Akhurst
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Kate Akhurst teamed with Sweden’s Rocket Boys to create Kate Boy.

How did sunny Australian minstrel Kate Akhurst wind up in Stockholm, Sweden, fronting Kate Boy, a chilly techno-pop quartet that - with the singles "Northern Lights" and "The Way We Are" - already is becoming the next crowd-pleasing Garbage?

It's a long story, and it begins with her appearing in a Down Under musical, landing her first publishing deal at 16, then jetting off to Los Angeles to record her debut disc with an Aussie producer chum.

But the album never materialized, she says: "I came over for three weeks, which turned into three months, then years and years, because he and I ended up forming a production team called Fiction and writing for other people."

Four years into her California residency, the vagabond - who brings Kate Boy to The City tonight - grew restless.

So she moved to London, which did't prove as productive as she imagined; she still felt stuck in a creative rut. "But that's when I was two hours away from Stockholm, and I loved Swedish music," she says. 'So I thought, 'Well, why don't I go over there for a week? I don't know anyone there, but I'm sure I'll meet somebody.'"

For six days, nothing much happened.

Akhurst was preparing to return home, empty-handed, when a mutual friend suggested she meet a three-man DJ-production team called The Rocket Boys - Hampus Nordgren, Oskar Engstrom and Markus Dextegen.

"It was at the end of my trip, and I wasn't expecting anything, really," she says. "We hadn't heard anything from each other, so it was a complete musical blind date."

But over cocktails at a local pub, something clicked. They all were on the same folk-meets-electronica page.

"So the guys were like, 'Our studio is only a block away. Why don't we go down there and listen to some stuff?' So we did," says Akhurst, who, with the lads, penned the undulating techno-rocker "Northern Lights" that very evening.

They chose a group name then, as well, a mashup of her first name and their trio's last. "It was all just too good to be true," she says. "And it was, because then I had to leave, and we had to figure out how to get me back there."

The singer eventually returned to Australia to secure the proper visa. But now she's in Stockholm to stay, and working on a full album.

Nordgren is equally amazed at this unlikely pairing. "Kate Boy would not be as poppy as it is without Kate - it would be a lot stranger, more experimental," he says. "But I think we kept as much as we wanted of that weird....well, Swedishness!"


Kate Boy

Where: Popscene, Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. June 13

Tickets: $13 to $15

Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.snagtickets.com

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Tom Lanham

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