All photos by Emma-Sofia Olsson
JENS LEKMAN & ANNIKA NORLIN:
Beginning in january 2018 and throughout the year, Jens Lekman and Annika Norlin (Hello Saferide, Säkert!) will be doing a project called Correspondence where they publish their communication through songs. Once a month a new song will be published here:
correspondence.es Twelve songs in total, six by each person. In their own words:
JENS: Annika and I first met ten years ago. From her first records I felt we had something in common, the music and the stories, but it wasn’t until 2008 when she released More Modern Short Stories with her band Hello Saferide that I felt: 1. I need to step up my songwriting 2. I should be friends with this person. I was living in New York at the time, I was heartbroken and miserable. One day I looked at her website and saw that she was looking for someone to help set up a show in New York. Normally I would’ve hesitated to reach out because of fear of being rejected (Sorry Jens, but your music sucks so I don’t think I want you to help me set up a show) but I was in a state where the worst had already happened and so what harm could it do to just send an email?
ANNIKA: In 2008, I had been touring indie pop clubs for a couple of years. It seemed like everywhere we went, we were following in Jens’ footsteps, playing cities where he had already played. (That was a great show. But do you know who’s a GENIUS? Jens Lekman. He played here last week. The place was so packed, everyone started puking because they could not believe what they just witnessed and afterwards Jens took the entire audience for a swim and performed another show by the beach, two thousand people proposed to one another and world peace occured. Repeat x 2000)
Jens helped Hello Saferide get a gig in Brooklyn. Afterwards, we said hi. I was pretty sure he’d he an asshole because of all of that indie success but he seemed pretty nice, we all thought so.
JENS: Years passed. One night I went to see her Säkert!, where she sings in Swedish, play a brilliant show in Gothenburg and sent a text afterwards saying I loved the show and she replied and said thanks. A few months later she wrote me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to sing with her at a small show in Sweden. She mentioned something about me being the Joan Baez to her Bob Dylan but she also wanted me to play harmonica which I thought was Bob’s thing. I really don’t know much about Dylan and Baez. But I said yes. The show was brilliant but what I remember most is our conversations about:
*The feeling of life expanding when Swedish crisp makers suddenly included Sourcream & onion to their list of available flavours
ANNIKA: I was doing a small solo show in the Stockholm archipelago with my other project Säkert!, where I sing in Swedish. I had been watching a documentary where Bob Dylan sings with Joan Baez at the Newport festival. I’ve never been much of a Dylan fan but that show got to me, something about how close the audience got that day and how much Dylan’s narrative voice was lifted by Baez’ melodic tone. I felt the need for a Joan, a Joan who would get it. I came to think of Jens’ beautiful voice and asked him to join me on harmonies and harmonica. The show was fun and some songs never sounded better than they did that night. But perhaps more important than the show, that was the night we became friends. Friends that don’t know each other very well and very rarely meet, because I live in Umeå, Jens in Gothenburg, and we both travel a lot. But straight away, we found common ground.
JENS: Annika has always felt like someone I would be good friends with if we lived in the same town, as it’s been the last years we’ve written emails, given feedback on each others demos and occasionally had a beer at some festival that we happened to both be booked for. In 2015 I was doing two songwriting projects that were different from the usual album recording and touring cycle: Postcards, where I wrote and released a song every week for a year and Ghostwriting, where I gathered stories from voluntary participants and turned them into songs. As a natural follow up to these projects I came up with the idea to do a similar thing as a correspondence with another songwriter, where the storytelling is central and each song is an answer to or somehow inspired by the last song, a pile of letters building on top of each other to form a picture of the year 2018. I went to the library to do research on correspondence in literature and was struck by how you had to be dead and declared a genius for your correspondence to be published. That’s sad, I thought. I talked to Annika about the idea and we decided this would be great to do together while we were still alive and before we were declared geniuses.
ANNIKA: 2018 seemed like a good year to do that: it’s election year in Sweden. Will Trump blow something up? Will a comet hit the earth? Will either of us go on a fun cruise? We actually have no idea what this project will end up being except for that we decided to use one instrument only. Which is something we may or may not stick to. The recordings will be pretty low key but because we are trying to impress each other it might actually turn out to be worth listening to.
Umeå, December 19
Göteborg, December 19