IAMSOUND Record's PANic Promotions Presents LYKKE LI At The Mondrian Sessions This Thursday
The indie siren on why she adores Leonard Cohen and Björn Yttling but she is
less taken by Kanye West:
Sweden is dark at this time of year. The bright colours and sparkly tones of
Swedish pop are veiled by a wintry darkness, out of which comes a raw second
album from Lykke Li, whose 2008 debut, 'Youth Novels,' made The Times’s Top
100 pop albums of the Noughties. Theatrical, minimalist and with a penchant
for avant garde percussion, the chameleonic indie-kid stands out from the
more sugary pop of her compatriots and has produced a second album, Wounded
Rhymes, that marks her progression from baby-faced popstar to a folk-rock
diva who has worked with Kanye West and Kings of Leon. But this is no
reinvention, simply a natural progression. “I’m becoming more and more
myself,” she muses dreamily, after an insomniac night spent watching
documentaries about Roman Polanski. Having lived between Sweden, Portugal
and New York all her life, Li has collected influences like postcards on her
travels. “I’m living out of two suitcases and an open mind at the moment,”
she says. “Putting out this album is a bit like letting my baby out into the
world. It’s a maternal thing.”
The Shangri-Las - The way they do songs really inspires me. One song can go in
five directions. It’s like a very cinematic approach, to start very softly
and build up through the choruses.
Dr John - My dad had a tape of Mama Roux, and that album [Gris-Gris]
influenced me a lot and my love of percussion. It’s from that that I love
the use of tom-toms — I never like to use the whole drum kit.
Cesaria Evora - I spent five years living in Portugal when I was very young
and I really loved Cesaria Evora’s type of folk music and the whole Bésame
Mucho song she did.
Leonard Cohen - I’m pretty much a Cohen obsessive. He’s a master of words and
his lyrics are amazing. I would love to work with him on something but I
think I would be too scared to ask. Maybe I could just sing a harmony over
him. It was Cohen who said: “There is a crack in everything, That’s how the
light gets in.” That’s the sort of music I like, where it has a
vulnerability and an unfiltered rawness.
Alejandro González Iñárritu - I think Iñárritu is the best director alive
right now. With his films I love the same thing that I like in every piece
of art, where he makes something magical out of reality, with a blur between
reality and fantasy. I just like that films like Biutiful aren’t airbrushed,
in the same way as Ingmar Bergman is very raw.
Paris is Burning - I love this documentary [about New York drag queens]. It
just seems to show people with a purpose. It’s inspiring to see people who
live and die for what they do.
Björn Yttling - He is my musical soulmate. I got his phone number from a
friend and met him and just understood that it would be the start of a whole
new world. He helped me stop living in a dream world and turn my visions
into more of a sonic reality.
Kanye West - I wasn’t too bothered about this, to be honest. Kanye West sang
his bit of the song [N.A.S.A. collaboration project Gifted] in his studio
and I did my bit in mine. I didn’t even meet him. It’s just one of those
things I got asked to do, which is the way things like that tend to happen.
Kings of Leon - They said I could cover whichever song I wanted, but I didn’t
really think about them as this big stadium band, I just liked their tunes
and the way they looked. Plus, I only had one of their albums and "Knocked Up"
was my favourite song on there. I got to do what I wanted with it and work
with John Hill [producer and remixer to Shakira, Christina Aguilera and
M.I.A.] to to do the duet.
Her debut album - I was a lot younger than I realised on 'Youth Novels' .
I was trying to sound old, but I had no life experience and it sounded very
young. I had been playing in shitty bars in New York and then come back to
Sweden, where I had to be the underdog, exist on the periphery of the
Her second album - My priorities on Wounded Rhymes are to be as raw and honest
as possible. I just want to try to write a song that outlives and outshines
me. I might be Swedish, but there is no Swedish pop really: we are all just
trying to do Bob Dylan, but in our own way.
The future I have two directions I want to go in. One would be very
abstract, to play with soundscapes and make an ace David Lynch soundtrack.
But I also want to work more as a singer-songwriter and make something
really scaled back, with just a guitar and a piano.