Frida Sundemo: An interview with the Swedish electro-pop artistCultureMusic
From the city of Gothenburg, Frida Sundemo has emerged as a rising electro-pop composer and singer. Since her debut EP Indigo, she has zapped listeners with the warmth of her weightless voice, accompanied by heavy synths and drums, and continued to do so with the Lit Up By Neon extended play in 2014. Finally, her first album is set to come out later this year internationally. We met with the Swedish singer-songwriter before her show at the Victoria in Dalston on Tuesday night to chat about her anticipated new record, her inspiration, past hopes and dreams for her future.
Hi, thank you so much for talking to us. You seem to be particularly attached to our city, what do you like to do when you are here?
Well, I started out working with a record label company a few years ago. Before that I had only been in London once, but I really loved it so I was super happy when we started working full time together. So after that I’ve been here, pretty much. I was in a British Movie, Kill Your Friends, and at that point I also started to work with my manager who’s based in London. So for those reasons’s I’ve been here a lot. I love it here!
You once mentioned your admiration for Shoreditch, what exactly wooed you to that area?
Everything! Obviously from the people, their different clothes – they’re so creative! It gives inspiration to me. Then all the bagels. I love their bagels there, it’s my favourite. Also, the coffee and nice vintage shops. Everyone is so nice, too. I’ve been staying in probably 15 different Airbnbs around the area. Airbnb is great – you get to actually meet the people there from the area and they can tell you their favourite spots.
You are about to release your international debut album. Can you tell us about it?
I really like it! It’s got a kind of cinematic feeling to it. I’ve been looking at a lot of YouTube clips of helicopter rides over mountains, and I’ve been inspired by these kinds of videos. The working title is Flashbacks and Futures – relating to the past in a nostalgic way, and also about all the different kinds of futures to come.
Have you decided already all the songs that will be featured or are you still writing?
I think I’m finished because I have like 20 songs. But I know from before that it’s always a good place to write songs when you’re not supposed to write, so I might do some more writing. Haha!
We really enjoyed your new single It’s Ok. You seemed to be particularly attached to the lyrics – which are truly empowering, especially with the repetition of “This is how life strikes/ this is what it feels like/ to be alive”. Do the words come to you naturally with the melodies or do you twiddle your thumbs trying to come up with the right words?
With that song it came quite naturally. But most of the time it is a struggle. Music is easier for me. Also, I write most of the lyrics together with Joel, my colleague, and we make the music together. Most of the time I think it’s a great way to work, we complement each other. Sometimes it can make it harder, especially when you love something that may not work. But I think it’s a good way because when you’re stuck, you have help.
The music video for We Are Dreamers is aesthetically beautiful, along with all the minimalistic art that you have incorporated with the release (even the image of you in tears is a lovely one). Was there a particular inspiration there?
I’m always bad at name-dropping influences. It’s the same when it comes with music, I don’t know exactly what it is. But, I go with my gut feeling all the time. It’s who I am, who I’m like. I’m always very involved with everything, like my videos, I think that’s an important part of music.
In Dream Talk, on your YouTube page, you mentioned your dream of always wanting to be an astronaut surrounded by eternal space. Has that in anyway inspired your music and style?
I think it’s been influencing the lyrics more than anything, and the music of course. I always had this feeling that I could do anything I want if I tried hard enough. I never picked that dream, but I think you could see and hear it in the lyrics and sometimes the music. I love space – I just think it’s so cool that we are in space right now!
There is a small part where you demonstrated your need to play the piano really fast (and really well by the way), from your dream of wanting to be a concert pianist. So how, from playing the piano, did you find your unique voice?
When I was little I sang from time to time, but I was mostly playing instruments. Then when I became 16, I played the guitar – before that I had only played instrumental music, but I found some way of writing music with my voice. I started to explore and then I kept going. I never went to song classes or anything. I never thought “oh, I want to sound like this”, it came naturally.
Was there a particular moment in your life where you decided to stick with becoming a musician?
I started at med school. I studied for three-and-a-half years a few years ago, at the same time I started to develop my music. I didn’t have time for both, so I just had to take a break from school and do my music full time. I never gave up the dream of becoming a doctor. I think I will finish in the future. Until then, I really want to live my dream of music, then hopefully I could do both.
Had there been a major influence from other musicians that inspired you to pursue your musical career?
No, not to make a decision, but I have been inspired by a lot of other bands and artists. A lot of Swedish electronic guitar music inspired me from the beginning. From Boys Noize to Radiohead, and also classical music. So, it’s been a mix.
In 2013, you composed the soundtrack for the short film Indigo and released your debut EP too. Then you acted in Kill Your Friends in 2015. With your experience in the film industry, do you see yourself returning at any point in the future, and if so in what capacity?
I don’t think so! But if I had the chance I would be up for it. It’s not something I’ll be going for now. It was a really fun experience, though. I would like to do the composing.
At the moment, is there a particular band or artist that you wish to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with Tom Waits. Also, there is a musician from Iceland called Ólafur Arnalds who I would also like to work with… and Radiohead and Coldpay.
What are Frida Sundemo’s current three favourite songs?
Regra Três by Doris Monteiro. Tomorrow’s Song by Olafur Arnalds. T J M by Bromma Disco.
So for your show at the Victoria with Naomi Pilgrim is there anything you are especially excited about?
Everything! I just love being on stage, playing my music. It’s a really good feeling to be on stage, it feels like I’m on another dimension.
What’s your relationship with Naomi Pilgrim?
We’re on the same record label in Stockholm. Naomi is an awesome artist and person. The last time I was doing a show in London she was here, then we performed an anti-racist song together, Racist Friend by The Specials. It came out three months ago.
Lovely! Thank you again for your time, Frida.
For further information about Frida Sundemo visit here
Read our review of Frida Sundemo’s concert at the Victoria Dalston here.
Listen to the latest single It’s OK here: