Interview with Modern Tales on Debut Album Stars Align

Written & Interviewed by Bernadette // Photos Courtesy of InfamousPR

If music were a movie, Stars Align would be the indie film everyone would be talking about. The brother duo Modern Tales, made up of veteran producer Jonas Rathsman and singer Franz Novotny, recently released their debut album Stars Align, via RÜFÜS DU SOL’s Rose Avenue imprint. The 10-track album is a dreamy compilation that showcases the undeniable talents of both Jonas and Franz. Every song provides a distinct style yet a familiarity unable to pinpoint and though it’s music, there’s a very cinematic tone to the beauty of the album.

Stars Align truly is a work of art commemorating the creativity & skills between brothers. The name of the album perfectly combines its kismet timing as the two were established separately as artists before coming to collaborate. During the most unexpected time of this decade, the global pandemic, Rathsman and Novotny used the darkness to find a way to set aside their differences and collaborate on whatever music came to mind, crafting the astonishing album in the span of just two weeks.

Modern Tales stated, “This album holds a special place in our hearts as it encompasses cherished moments that have shaped our journey as Modern Tales. It all began when we, as brothers, made the decision to create music together, and that moment sparked the birth of our musical collaboration.– These moments, all interconnected, serve as irrefutable evidence of the wonders that can unfold when cosmic forces align. Through this album, we pay homage to the profound bond of brotherhood, celebrating the synergy and creativity that arise when like-minded souls come together.”

Not only did the stars align for the brothers to collaborate, but their enchanting surroundings on Sweden’s west coast somehow feels captured within each song creating a dreamscape within the mind, body and spirit. There’s charm, delight, ambiguity and in some ways, a feeling as deep as a misty forest. Every song encapsulates emotion, expressing a story such as on tracks like “Wide Awake” where miscommunication reveals the human condition and “Pretty Little Thing” seduces the ears in a hypnotic romanticism. The album is definitely a must-hear and just like a great movie, it will move you in so many ways.

***Check out FRANK151’s interview with Modern Tales’ Jonas Rathsman & Franz Notony below:


When did you both know you wanted to become musicians/artists? Did you grow up around music?
JONAS: We didn’t necessarily grow up in a music family, but it’s a very creative family. So we were very fortunate that doing anything creative was highly encouraged. When it comes to Francis, he knew as soon as he started making music on his computer at the age of 15 that he wanted to become a musician. He just couldn’t stop thinking about music, and there was just nothing else that he could see himself doing. When you wake up before school to make music, to then go to school and think about music, to then get back home to make more music – it’s clearly an obsession that he wanted to pursue. 

FRANCIS: Jonas has been equally obsessed with music for as long as he can remember. Funnily enough, he used to work as a graphic designer for a long time, and would put out music for fun through his own record label. Eventually he chose to pursue the music dream instead, when he was picked up by French Express. 

Who were/are some of your early inspirations?

JONAS: It was a very varied mix of music for Francis. It could be anything from Cat Stevens, The Strokes, Röyksopp and Jeff Buckley, to Scooter, Eminem, RJD2 and Gorillaz. It was pretty weird to grow up in the 90s haha.

FRANCIS: There was a lot of RnB, Hip Hop and Soul for Jonas, from artists such as Raphael Saadiq, Slum Village, D’Angello.

Do you have any dream collaborations and if so, who are they?

There are so many… But to name one, it would be pretty sick to make a song with Daft Punk, if they ever chose to release music again haha. 


How did the collaboration come about?
We have been trying to make music together for quite some time, but since we’ve had different musical careers with completely different styles, it was always tough to pin down exactly what to make. During Covid, we were both in a situation where we had a lack of inspiration for our solo projects. It got to a point where we said that hey, let’s just do something completely different together. So we went in and started making music with sync/film/tv in mind – but it pretty quickly morphed into what Modern Tales is today. 

What’s the collaboration process like? Do you have separate ideas then present them to each other? Or do you work together from beginning to end?
There’s never a specific, fixed process that we always go through, which is really interesting. One day Francis could have a vocal idea that we work from, next day could be a beat idea by Jonas or vice versa. One song, Wide Awake, was more of a Tabula Rasa – we just went in one day with nothing and created a full song. 

What’s the pros & cons of working with a sibling?
There are mostly cons to be honest haha. Since we are siblings, we trust each other and have each other’s backs 100%. Family comes first, so that also gives us the ability to not take stuff too god damn seriously and just have fun and make music. Also, if there’s a clash or argument, we are also forced to solve it because hey, we’re siblings haha. The cons would probably be that we’re similar in many ways. Big egos, perfectionists and slightly emotional – so that can spark some, let’s say, heated moments. Nothing that we can’t deal with though. 

Do you have a set time for when you like to create music? If so, is it mornings, midday and/or evenings?
Since Jonas is the older brother, he decides. So it’s mornings. Francis prefers evenings. Jokes aside, Jonas has a family to take care of, so it would be hard to start too late. Plus, we’ve done the whole work during the night, sleep during the day and it’s not ideal mentally and physically. 

What advice can you give those looking to collaborate with a relative or a dear friend?

Don’t force it. Try to do it, but if it doesn’t work the first time – just leave it. It’s good to not be too serious about it, because if you’re meant to make music together, you will definitely get there organically. There are so many aspects when it comes to a working relationship between two creators. Anything from music taste and deep understanding/knowledge of a specific genre, to where you are in life in general. Francis didn’t even understand the type of music that Jonas was making, and vice versa. But with time – we matured and could finally work together. 

What does your studio look like? Does it reflect your style of creating music?
Jonas actually built the studios himself. It definitely reflects our style of creating music. A lot of studios tend to look like the interior of a Star Trek spaceship and we don’t really know what that is all about. We like it more nordic, minimal, organic and cozy. We want it to feel like home.

*RUFUS/Rose Ave–

How did you first connect with RUFUS?
Jonas has been touring a lot for the past 10-15 years, so he met the boys on the road. When we finished our album, we were talking about who to send it to – so we decided to send it over to them. That’s a decision we are very happy that we made.

What’s it been like working with them and their label Rose Ave?
It’s been absolutely incredible. Not only did we receive so much love and support in so many ways – we’ve also had total creative freedom finalizing this album. To us, freedom is paramount when you want the best possible outcome as a creator.
You know, when you’ve been in the music industry for such a long time – you get to see the force of the bright side and unfortunately the force of the dark side. RUFUS and their team’s kindness and hard work sheds a bright beam through the music industry – and we are very fortunate to be a part of that. 


How does your home inspire your music?

Gothenburg is a calm, beautiful yet rough place – in the middle between forests and the ocean. When in lack of inspiration, you can easily just head out to the wilderness and think about something else for a bit. That can be very inspiring.

What other places outside of your locale inspire you?
Festivals are also very inspiring, regardless where they are. 


In a past interview you mentioned wanting to work in film. Who are some of your favorite music composers for film?
That’s a tough one. If we are talking about big big names, obviously Hans Zimmer is incredible. Ryuichi Sakamoto (The Revenant) is also incredible. We also have to mention the Swedish Ludwig Göransson – he’s always bringing something new to the table. Oh, and there’s also a guy who we don’t know the name of, but he’s been creating really unique music/sounds for Alex Garland’s movies/series (DEVS, Annihilation, Ex Machina). LOVE THAT. 

Do you have a favorite soundtrack from a movie or tv show?
We have so many, but one of them is for sure The Revenant.


What is your favorite part of performing live as a duo?
To make people happy. It’s an incredible feeling when you see people in the audience dance and smile, it’s definitely some sort of fuel for us. 

When is your next live performance?
Our next live performance is actually going to be in Gothenburg (12th of August) right by our studio. We had our very first show here, before we went on the Surrender support tour for RUFUS, so we thought we’d do it again, every summer forever. 


Three words each that sum up the theme to the album.
FRANCIS: Melancholia, Happiness, Electronic
JONAS: Life, Abstract, Love

What is your favorite track on the album and why?
“Pretty Little Thing” is definitely up there. It’s a naked and mysterious song that we never really get tired of for some reason. 


Favorite album of all time?
FRANCIS: Gorillaz – Demon Days
JONAS: Tame Impala – Currents

If you weren’t an artist but could have any occupation/job that you wanted, what would it be?

FRANCIS I would have loved to make films. Either write ideas for film or perhaps work with animation and make animated films.

JONAS: Graphic designer or carpenter. Jonas is a very handy man – he loves to build things with his bare hands and his impressive toolbox.

Connect with Modern Tales

Instagram | Spotify | YouTube

Stars Align Tracklist

1. Pretty Little Thing

2. Monster

3. They Can’t Take The Sky Away

4. Brother

5. Lean On Me

6. Lost In The Future

7. Together

8. Wide Awake

9. One More Song

10. Coming Back 4 U

Buy / Stream Modern Tales – Stars Align  

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