September 25th, 2017
photo by Malin Nordström
About a week ago I moved to beautiful Tromsø, northern Norway. My girlfriend has started studying here and since I'm fortunate enough to be able to work from almost anywhere I decided to tag along. But now I'm looking for something to get involved in here, is there anyone who would like to make some music? Book a show with me? Start some kind of project that I could be involved in? Need a DJ? Need a songwriting teacher? Need some music for a movie? Write me at smalltalk (at) jenslekman.com
September 25th, 2017
|I received an email from a person who told me she was a
friend of Kim Wall, the journalist who was tragically killed
last month. She told me she and Kim used to come to my
shows. That made me realize that when her name appeared in
the news I had recognized it but wasn't sure why. I typed it
into my mail program and found that me and Kim had been
corresponding over the years. She told me about her
journalist studies in New York and her work in Beijing,
asked me when I was going to play in either of the cities
and tipped me off about good karaoke places in Korea Town.
It made the whole tragic story hit closer to home for me. After all, those of you who write to me are a kind of family for me. And I've been thinking a lot about the focus of this story in the news, how it risks reducing her life to what happened to her rather than her brilliant work as a journalist.
So, with that in mind I'd like to share this link: https://www.rememberingkimwall.com
September 22nd, 2017
|The almost complete but yet to be finished tour diary of
2017 (continuing from after Dallas):|
LA was one of those perfect nights when everything just felt right and I felt gracious like a hummingbird. I discovered I have this new sense of pride in my profession that I haven’t felt before. For the first time I used the word ‘colleague’ in my mind when I thought about the staff at Teragram Ballroom. There used to be a conflict in me about this before because I never explicitly wanted to be a musician, I just wrote songs in my own way, and all of a sudden people wanted to book shows with me. The first times I showed up at venues I got the feeling I was supposed to feel grateful and impressed by the rock history that had taken place there before. But I just felt the sticky floors under my shoes, saw the dick grafitti on the walls of the backstage room, and felt like I didn’t belong there. And then I had a number of bad encounters with venue staff in the beginning, the stage tech who yelled at me because my guitar was dirty (“it’s disgusting, don’t you have any pride in your guitar playing??”), the infinite number of sound engineers who frowned upon my backingtracks and my little CD player I brought along and that was that. The war was on. I decided all people who worked at venues were assholes and just didn’t get it. But during the process of making the last album I came to a point where I realised I had to make a choice. If I wanted to keep making music I had to consciously decide to be a musician and find solutions to everything that frustrated me. And one of the first steps was to reevaluate how I felt about all the venue people.
One thing that helped was that I think things have changed since I started. It’s not that prestigious to play in a band anymore. And some nights when we’re packing up our stuff and the cleaner is sweeping up the broken glass and someone is playing one last sleepy tune on the piano at the other end of the bar, I feel like we’re all together in a fading dream. But we’re a team, a family, and I love that high five at the end of the night.
San Francisco was emotional for me as it reminded me of my friend and sound engineer Barrett who passed away in the Oakland warehouse fire last year. We had talked about meeting up when I got to SF and it became very real for me when I got there. I kept thinking “I gotta text Barrett and see if he wants to…” and then I choked up. I really miss him a lot and I can't believe he's gone. I played Into Eternity for him those nights as that was the one song he kept asking me to play every night we were on tour together and it felt fitting. After the 2nd show the staff at the Independent came up and said they all knew Barrett, that he was a very respected person in the music scene, someone they looked up to, someone everyone loved and admired.
In Portland I went for a run and was reminded of what a romantic town that is, with the rusty old bridges, the pinetrees and the trains whistling in the distance. Lisa Liza was our new opener this night, she had flown in from another Portland - the one in Maine, to join us and play her beautiful songs.
The show was crazy, I anticipated a seated polite crowd that I would have to work with - a posh theatre tends to make people self aware, but I got the wildest crowd on the tour so far.
Seattle started with a day off. We did KEXP which was fun but I messed up. I always mess up when it’s big, important and live. No big deal. Then we went to the cinema and saw Get Out which was great. Cinema in the US is different from what I’m used to. People bring beer and they shout at the screen. I liked that a lot. The Seattle show was great and I had some really nice conversations with people at the merch table afterwards. I decided for this tour that I would be at the merch table and sign records as much as I could, as long as it worked with the venue and our schedule. I sometimes used to hide after the shows in the past to not have to face what people thought, a strategy that wasn’t helping me much. I thought I’d try the opposite now. The perfume I made was selling like crazy, some people rushed in through the doors when they opened to get one and we had to seriously limit the number of perfumes we could sell each night so that they wouldn’t run out before the tour was over.
Then we started our long drive east, I woke up in the early hours shivering as we were passing through a snowstorm in the mountains. The bus was unable to handle the cold and it came in through the windows. I slept in my coat. The next day we just drove. Through the Rocky Mountains, Idaho's desolate fields and Montana's breathtaking hills. We had an extra driver for this route, he was nice but our conversation drifted into politics at some point and he mentioned he thought the United States couldn’t take more immigrants, because the place is full already. We looked out the windows at the empty Montana fields. We hadn’t seen a human being for hours. Maybe a few cows. I know that’s not a valid argument in this issue, integration isn’t about physical space, it’s about getting into society. But it was just such a sad visual punchline in an otherwise bleak conversation.
We finally reached Fargo, North Dakota, a place I’d been wanting to visit for a long time. Not because of the movie, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen but because of the stories I’d heard from the brothers who run my label Secretly Canadian and grew up there. Their dad's old store, Swanson Health Products was still there, just across the street from the venue. I think about 60 people came to the show, but basically everyone who came out bought a record and said hi after the show (we later checked the merch sheet and percentage wise this was the best selling show of the tour!). I did some songs in Swedish this night just to humour all the Anderssons and Svenssons and other swedish descendants.
We had picked up our friend Emma Lagerberg along the way and she had joined to hang out and play a little violin on Opposite of Hallelujah. She had just spent some time in Minneapolis, teaching Swedish folk music at the Swedish American Institute. She told us about Swede Hollow, the valley in Minneapolis where Swedish immigrants lived in extreme poverty just a century ago. It’s fascinating for me as a swede, being from a quite wealthy and privileged part of the world, to be reminded of how people from where I live - who spoke the same language as me and had the same history and culture as me - were once the poor immigrants, seeking shelter and trying to just get by in a new country far away. The Minneapolis show was so much fun and it felt good to get up on stage on International Womens Day and have an all female band including a female sound engineer and tour manager.
The next day I checked my mail in a cafe somewhere and spilled coffee over myself as I read that I had been granted tour support from Kulturrådet (the Swedish Arts Council). I can’t tell you how much pressure that took off my chest. Trying to make this tour come together financially was so stressful. At first balancing on the break even point and then slowly starting to lose more and more as unexpected costs came up. Now things were looking brighter.
On our drive to Chicago I couldn’t sleep, the bus was shaking, the body was aching from a cold and I felt stressed knowing I had a packed schedule. I made it through the A.V Club session, got to see the Onion’s office which was fun, like I was visiting the physical address of the Internet. I tried to memorize some unpublished ideas for headlines on their conference whiteboard. But later on I got so very tired. The Chicago show started nice, I introduced “The Wall of Love”, probably the silliest idea I’ve ever had - a twee take on the Wall Of Death - dividing the crowd into two parts and then have them run towards each other and give each other... a hug. That was fun. But I didn’t feel like I did a good job in Chicago, I was exhausted and I messed up a few songs. Came off stage feeling that old shame for not delivering the goods, not being good enough. But our sound engineer Anna came backstage and didn’t agree at all, she thought it sounded awesome from where she was at. I thought of that part in Bruce Springsteen’s biography where he talks about revisiting the recording from an old London show he thought was terrible and not understanding at all what he was so disappointed by... it sounded great. The band sat around listening to clips on Instagram and yeah, it sounded good. What was my problem? I went out and signed records and talked to people for two hours and everyone was super happy which made me happy too. Thought about the fact that someone had thrown up a bra at our bassist Hanna, and the look on her face. I giggled inside.
Got to sleep a bit more on my way to Columbus and did finally the best show of the tour so far. Thank you Ohio.
The morning after I woke up from the beeping sound of the truck towing our bus off the highway. We were 20 minutes outside of Detroit when the bus had just given up. We got our stuff into a taxi and made it to Magic Stick just in time for soundcheck. I had hoped to get to see the city and the Heidelberg Project which a fan had sent me links about, but this became another night of just seeing the inside of the venue. Such a shame, I'd really wanted to see Detroit. We got a different bus delivered and packed our stuff in it. Had time to get a slice of pizza. The delay meant we couldn't see the Niagara Falls on our way to Toronto either. I'd never seen it. Only heard the sound as I once stopped there late one evening when it was dark. Maybe it’s better in my imagination anyway.
The show at Great Hall was good but yet again I felt like I didn't do a good enough job. Felt ashamed. Reminded myself of Bruce again and had some vegan poutine from round the corner. The next day I woke up in the bus and heard the crew talking but it wasn't the old tour talk, the inside jokes that occupy most of the casual conversations in the bus. I found out that the wi-fi had stopped working because we were in Canada and our bus was parked in the middle of nowhere. And Stella, the snowstorm was raging outside. Trapped inside with no internet something had happened. We sat there and opened up, talked about the universe, faith and our existence. Until we got too hungry and headed out into the storm to search for food. After finding some internet, I noticed an offer had come in from a guy who had been at the show, he asked if we wanted to 3D scan ourselves to make digital avatars. We went to his studio and stepped into a small room filled with cameras from every angle. Watching yourself being put together, pixel by pixel on the screen, was like watching David Cronenberg's 'The Fly'. We had a final dinner before we left and when the wi-fi started working again we sent our new 3D avatars out into the universe. I looked out the window at the snow and started thinking that maybe I should dust off The Cold Swedish Winter for the next show.
Boston was a lot of fun, I got to see some old familiar faces in the crowd but we had a long drive so we took off right after the show and headed for DC. There I had press to do until the show started. I ended with The End of the World is Bigger Than Love since it takes place in DC, I hadn’t played that song in a long time, it made me remember how I felt about things back then when I wrote it, how everytime I closed my eyes I thought about how a big nuclear bomb went off and wiped out everything and everyone, including myself. It worked like a reboot of my mind when there were too many emotions going on inside. Later that night we took a walk over to the White House where we took photos of our middle fingers. But the White House looked dark and sad, no lights on, no one home, our middle fingers were aimed at nothing, just darkness.
Philadelphia. I am so filled with brotherly love for this place. Union Transfer must be one of the best venues in the country. We had a long day, we played World Cafe in the morning but still had time to meet with my old friend and drummer Charlie who now plays with the War On Drugs and gives the best hugs.
The next day we got to New York and played a sold out Bowery Ballroom. Unfortunately all I remember from this show was getting electrocuted in the 2nd song. After that I just lost momentum and forgot everything I was gonna say or do. My guitar kept going on and off for some reason. I couldnt keep up with the 2-3 rowdy guys close to the front. I went to autopilot and then came off feeling terrible and ashamed but decided to still go sign records so I wouldn’t just sit around dwelling on stuff I couldn’t do much about. Everyone I talked to loved it, they didnt even notice what I had experienced.
The next day we killed it at Music Hall. TOTAL REVENGE. Btw, that venue is actually the best venue in the world. Such nice people and such amazing sound. I must’ve played there over ten times now and it’s always great. Then I did a soloshow at Rough Trade, I started with playing Lovin Spoonful’s ‘Do You Believe in Magic?’. The crowd answered yes to the question that the song is asking so I continued. A young woman in the crowd asked for Your Arms Around Me and I promised to play it for her later, but she said she had to leave to get home before midnight or her parents would get mad at her. So I played it for her right away because I’m a nice guy. Saw her leaving with a smile on her face a few songs later and it made my night.
Since the US tour was over I sat around and reflected on it and came to think of how differently my all female band and crew had been greeted compared to last time I played in the US with just women, back in 2006. This time, no one said anything sexist or dumb at all. We were met with pure respect. I choose to take this as a sign that things have really happened over the last 10 years, despite the election of Trump. A small light of hope in an otherwise dark era.
Then we flew to Dublin, played a great set at good old Whelans until my voice started acting up. I went to sign records and my voice kept sounding weird. Then on the ferry, in the middle of the night, I got a high fever.
I woke up in London feeling terrible. Slept all day in my little bunkbed, feeling miserable, until showtime. Took some paracetamol and made it through, it was a great night and a great crowd. But I came off dizzy and feeling worse.
Woke up in Leeds and could barely stand up. My voice worse than ever. Still feeling worried about the tour budget I didn’t cancel, instead I did a short show with barely any voice at all, the band and crowd covered for me. It was touching the way Leeds carried me through that.
The next day in Manchester I was even worse, I had to cancel which broke my heart. We found a doctor - a “rock doc” who prescribed me a whole bunch of drugs. I checked into a hotelroom, took my steroids and antibiotics for the chest infection, turned on the TV and ordered a veggie burger from room service. When I got it, it tasted awful! Like metal! How typical, I thought to myself, why can’t people learn how to cook vegetarian food? How can it be so hard? I called room service, I’m not the one to complain usually but this just tasted so bad. They came over and I said “this tastes horrible, I’d really like my money back”. They left looking confused and I had some fries. And they tasted awful!! Like metal too! And the cola - like metal! I had an apple in my bag - it tasted metal! And my cashew nuts - metal! I thought: “Wait a minute”. Then I checked the side effects for the pills - “common side effects - makes food taste like metal”. I called and apologised. Realised during the call that my voice had started coming back. Woke up the next day feeling amazing. Not just like I wasn’t sick anymore but as if I was in the best shape I’d ever been in. I was sweaty because I had been dreaming about flying through burning cars all night. I was ready for Glasgow. And also ready for ANYTHING. I was ready to run a marathon and sort out all of the worlds problems. But first, I checked the side effects for the pills again. “Common side effects - an intense feeling of euphoria and self importance”. Ah, ok. I unlaced my running shoes and took them off.
I laid in my bunkbed looking out at Glasgow, at the street outside. First, about 50 heavy metal guys walked by. Then a busload of nuns. Then a funeral procession. Then a group of clowns, actual clowns! I thought of what I’d read about Pyongyang, how visitors who’d been looking down at the street from their hotel had started suspecting that maybe all the people who walked by were actors, who maybe just walked round the corner and changed their clothes and then walked by the hotel again in an endless parade for them, giving the impression of a city full of life. I don’t know what this was that I saw, maybe there was just a heavy metal show, a bunch of nuns on holiday, a funeral and a circus, all happening at once. Whatever it was, I whispered “thank you for the entertainment, Glasgow” as I laid there. Then we played the show, me sitting down (doctor’s orders), the crowd standing up, dancing, having a blast. That was a very memorable show. Thank you again, Glasgow.
We flew to Stockholm. I've always been terrified of playing in Stockholm, I think because I've felt judged there, I've been carrying around the idea that the cultural elite lives there and it stirs up fears in me that go way back. I think it has to do with class. When I was a teenager I looked towards these sophisticated people in the city and wished I could be one of them. They made me jealous, the way they wore their coolness so casually, that they looked like they belonged there, that all these social and cultural codes had been given to them through their DNA. Luckily however, I was still high on the steroids and they gave me a sense of importance and fearless euphoria and I bashed through the show like a graceful dancing elephant. Shameless.
In Uppsala it was the same thing, thank you steroids!
Then in Malmö they had worn off, I had stopped taking them because I could barely sleep. The nervousness came back like an invoice with the VAT slapped right on. I had to shape up, but I came to think of how the story in Hotwire The Ferriswheel took place in Malmö once and it gave me a focus. 13 years ago I walked through Malmö with a friend who had just found out her boyfriend had been cheating on her, and the mood was dark as the night. We walked by Folkets Park where there used to be a ferriswheel at the time and my friend asked if we could break in and hotwire it like you would hotwire a car. I said I didn't know how to hotwire a ferriswheel and she smiled and said 'yeah, neither do I'. Then she said 'but one day you should write a song about this night, and when you do - don't write one of those sad songs that you always write, write a happy song, write about how we actually did hotwire that ferriswheel'. There was a silence and then she said 'it's in your hands now - you have the power to make this a happy memory'. And I spent 13 years working on that song, trying to not let her down. I hope I didn't, I don't know her anymore, we're not in touch, not sure if she even remembers. But I thought of that as I played this night in Malmö and it helped me through.
In Copenhagen we played at the prestigious concert hall, the same night as the New York Philharmonics. In the corridors outside, distinguished violinists walked by in their expensive suits and dresses, as we unpacked our broken amps and tangled cables. One of them mistook me for a staff member and asked me to bring some coffee. I brought it for him anyway, just to have a chance to chat. I played How Can I Tell Him as an encore, and a guy yelled out 'fuck yeah!'. I'm never sure how that song will go down, if people will laugh, cry or just shrug their shoulders. Or start questioning me, like when I played it on the radio earlier that day and the host said that he didn’t understand why it was such a big deal that men find it hard to express emotions and isn’t it all biological anyway? The guy who yelled 'fuck yeah' came up after with his arm around his male friend and said 'that song is about me and him'.
Off to Örebro, this town where I hadn't played for 14 years, just passed on the train on my way somewhere else. We were on a country road somewhere when we turned on the radio and it reported about something that had happened in Stockholm. A truck. Some fire in a mall. People lying dead and wounded on the street. At Drottninggatan. That very street where we had been strolling down just a few days ago, stopped to have a coffee at an outdoor cafe, one of those first spring days when you could actually do that. I couldn't take my eyes off the news that whole day. We did the show which was great, a kid dancing on a table in the back. I dedicated the last song to Stockholm, and people looked confused. It's an odd thing, to dedicate songs to Stockholm.
We returned to Gothenburg. I don't know how to explain the feeling of playing in my hometown. The closer you get to home, the weirder it feels. Maybe because a show is still acting, a play that everyone accepts until you meet a crowd that knows who's behind the mask. I kept reading about the Stockholm attack all day and when I went on stage a strange thing happened, I felt terrified. Quickly, I scanned the venue to remember how to get out, just in case. All through the show I thought about how vulnerable we were in there. I thought about Le Bataclan.
I had been reading articles all day where they told us to not be scared, because that's what terrorists want. But I don’t know how to ‘not be scared’.
I came to think of how I used to be scared of flying. I kept telling myself "don't be stupid, it's statistically much safer than driving or even eating a sandwich”. Still, I was scared. So one day, as the airplane taxied down the runway I just thought "ok, be scared then".
And then it felt better.
We played Postcard # 17 and it put it's finger on something this night. I like when that song puts its finger on something because it’s a vague story, not much of a story in itself at all. I wrote it in one day back in 2015 when I had just started therapy and I felt like I was trying to put my finger on something but I wasn’t sure what it was.
Oslo was sunny. A wonderful spring day spent walking around. I haven't mentioned our opening band, The Dove and the Wolf, who had been with us for weeks by now, both in the US and Europe, always delivering their beautiful set with both grace and humour. This was their last show with us and I sat behind the stage door and listened.
In the half hour between our sets I became hesitant, maybe I should change the setlist, it's been the same for a while now. I quickly switched it around and then started the evening with Our First Fight. A string broke halfway through the song. That fucking string, it was the death of the show, it set off a chain reaction of nervosity and frustration. I made it through but I was a mess after the show. Not even talking to people by the merch table could get my spirits up. I could see it in their faces I thought, I had failed them.
The next day I got up at 6am to take a bus back to Gothenburg, to get there early so I could have one therapy session after weeks of no sessions. I talked to her about the nights when I had struggled and felt insufficient, like I had failed people, the frustration that things didn't go as planned. She said "well, you're a sensitive person". Then she said "have you never thought about how maybe sensitivity could be an asset?". I had never thought about it that way, that maybe the same thing that frustrated me could also be the reason why I'm here in the first place, the reason why music once touched me so deeply and made me long to explore it.
I took the tram over to Pustervik and did our second hometown show. I felt proud that I had sold out two nights in my hometown. Maybe I wasn't a prophet, I’ll never play at Ullevi Stadium, but at least I was someone who could sell out Pustervik twice. That’s not too bad.
After five days off we took the ferry over to Denmark again and drove to Aarhus. I can't remember what it was about it but I loved that show. The crowd wasn't big but they were into it and the venue is wonderful. Walking to the hotel afterwards it struck me that I've never experienced the town even though I've been there many times. What a beautiful city. A ‘Venice of the North’.
Hamburg was great too except I got some permanent hearing damage from the screaming fans up front. Haha. But what can you do. I’m looking forward to explaining that to my future audiologists ;)
Berlin was perfect. Just perfect.
In Köln I struggled with the setlist all night. You need to shake it up once in a while, otherwise it becomes Groundhog Day eventually. At the same time it's hard to keep more than 15-20 songs in shape which doesn't give you much room to mix it up too much. I tend to have 2-3 opening songs to choose from, a few spots in the set where you can insert a quiet song or a forgotten gem, and then leave space at the end for spontaneous solosongs depending on the mood and place. This night I kept going back and forth between wether I should do Evening Prayer or Our First Fight. I settled on Evening Prayer and after the show I talked to some people who said they had been moved because they had gone through similar experiences, dealing with illness themselves or being close to someone who was ill. That's probably the most rewarding part about writing songs and stories, hearing from people who can relate to it, knowing that the songs are doing their work. It’s also one of the trickiest parts of being a songwriter, when you’re having these quite serious and heartfelt conversations while being in a noisy crowded bar. On one side you have the person who's been close to death, on the other side the person who wants you to record a video message for their friend Stevie who couldn't be there because he's drunk and passed out on the pavement outside.
I thought about this in Utrecht too while I was practising some organ parts with Emelie. Emelie is a funeral organist, she's used to the responsibility that comes with setting music to the darker parts of life. We talked about this, how interesting it was that I do weddings and she does funerals, that inbetween us we can cover both of those aspects of life. It feels like an important asset when you're a touring band, playing this kind of music. I'm glad I have Emelie with me.
Paris is Paris. What can I say. It was two days before the election and the atmosphere was tense. Police cars were racing through the narrow streets and it didn’t make things better when some guy started wielding a knife at Gare Du Nord. Still, Paris was Paris. People were smoking cigars and frowning at our vegetarian diets and everything was just like it should be - absolutely wonderful.
We spent the night in Dijon, famous for it’s mustard. Drove through other little french towns famous for their cheeses, wines and condiments. Into Switzerland and Zürich where we played an amazing show at the tiniest stage we’d played so far. So tiny I was constantly worried Hanna was going to poke an eye out on my guitar if she turned her head towards me. The band had become really tight and it was that wonderful peak when you've made it up the hill and everyone knows the songs so well but are still so excited about playing every night. Especially Julia who had become the burning engine of the band, even those nights when we hadn't slept for days and were so tired, she was still excited to get up behind her drums and play a show. I don't think I've ever met someone who loves playing drums as much as her, inbetween our tours she would book other shows, you'd turn on the TV and she'd be behind the drums, playing with some rapper or upcoming popsinger. Zürich is a beautiful place, but it was nothing compared to the Disneyland fantasy of Lucerne where we played the next day for about 20 people including my own crew. I did that show solo since we knew there wouldn’t be many people and there’s nothing more embarrasing than when there's more people on stage than in the crowd. Now it became a nice intimate thing. I sold one CD after the show and I was happy with that.
We got to Italy and Bologna. For some reason it feels like my first album was the hit record there. In many other places it’s Night Falls that people want to hear, but in Italy it’s all about When I Said... I played You Are The Light because a girl at the front kept requesting it and when she said it was her birthday I couldn't say no anymore. I got some mosquito bites later in the warm italian night. It felt like summer already. The venue in Rome was amazing, an old church with acoustics that made every drumbeat last for an eternity. And it was so close to everything worth seeing, we put on our best tourist pants and cameras and walked out to enjoy the city.
The day after my band drove to Munich through the alps while I did a TV show. I got an in-ear translator to help me with the questions. I got nervous behind the stage, as you know I tend to mess up when it’s important and live. I was doing vocal exercises when the in-ear translator said “are you nervous?”. I said “yeah”. He said “don’t worry, I’m with you all the way, I’ll be here in your ear and I’ll tell you what to do”. It was the most comforting words I’d ever heard in my life. I felt like Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Synechdoche, NY. I wanted to take this in-ear translator voice with me, into my life. I didn’t know where he was sitting or who he was. It didn’t matter. I wanted him to stay in my ear for the rest of my life and tell me how to live it.
The show went well, I didn’t mess up. Afterwards I got to meet an italian news reporter who was really really really really famous according to everyone I talked to but I had of course never heard of him before. Such a strange thing, to shake someones famous hand, see people in awe all around him, and have no idea who he is.
Munich was snow falling, happy people and a fun show. And then this happened. You can’t hear it well in the recording but there was a rock show happening just below our stage, sending massive bass up through the floor. But it was ok, we made it through since we’re pro’s. We just had to play inbetween the other band’s songs, haha. Thanks to Daniel Borklund for the recording!
We ended our tour in Hannover. Hanna had celebrated her birthday the day before and had an offical “Hangover in Hannover”. I had been joking about this for weeks. I thought it was so funny. No one else thought it was that funny. We ended with one of those “we don’t care if there’s not that many people here, we’re gonna do the best show ever” kind of shows. Playing for ourselves but also for the few but enthusiastic people there.
Then the summer festival season started. But I can’t write about all those shows too, Jesus! What do you want from me? Do you know how much other work I have to do? All the bookkeeping! All the emails I haven’t replied to! Ok then, but I’ll make it quick.
Huskvarna was a wonderful little festival in a wonderful little park. The line-up included a lot of metal and rock which meant I didn’t have a huge crowd but also meant I got to see a fair amount of long haired metal dudes slowly warming up to my tunes and moving around a little bit. I love metal dudes, they’re always the nicest people.
Primavera was brilliant, they’ve really mastered that festival, 10/10, so enjoyable. And that comes from someone who generally doesn’t like big festivals.
Then I played at the 'Bergman Week' at Fårö, a little island outside Sweden where Ingmar Bergman used to live. That was worth it just to be allowed to stay in Bergman’s own house. I realized when I came home after the show that I was sharing it with Tomas Alfredsson, the director of Let The Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy etc. He was just sitting there, quietly editing his new movie on his laptop. We talked for a while, then I went to bed and watched Scenes From a Marriage which apparently was filmed in that very house.
Bilbao - Magnificent town, wonderful festival, wonderful crowd.
Ruisrock - I didn’t get to see much here since we had to rush to our flight right after the show, but the show was A+.
Then I did this. And this.
The next show was at Badesøen Festival just outside Copenhagen and one of those shows I did just for the fun of it. My friend Rasmus Stolberg had put together a not so ordinary event, more art and happenings than just bands after bands. I was scheduled for three pop up shows, where I just walked out into the crowd and started playing for the lucky (or unlucky) ones standing around. Then I did a very interesting set where I played one song for one person at a time. This was in part Rasmus own idea - he had seen me do this thing I sometimes do where I take requests after shows and sing the songs quietly in peoples ears, whispering so that the song will only be for them. Rasmus helped me take that idea and make it work in a festival setting, with a little white picket fence fencing in two white chairs and a white parasol.
Then it was off to Italy and Siren Festival where I arrived just in time to plug in my guitar and start playing in yet another amazing italian church.
Slussens Pensionat in Orust is known for giving artists and musicians a nice holiday in exchange for music. You get amazing food, a nice room and a bay to go swimming in and sunny cliffs to lie on. For a workaholic it's great, it's the ultimate workation. And you get to meet a new crowd as a lot of tourists go there just for the place and get exposed to your music. An older french couple came up at breakfast the day after the show and with simple french and gestures I think they said they really enjoyed the show. I don't know. Maybe they were asking where the strawberry jam was. I smiled and said 'merci'.
All through the summer I had been following a debate in the outskirts of all the other debates, a debate about Gothenburg's cultural politics and the rents that had suddenly been raised drastically, at some instances up to 100%, for galleries, studios and rehearsal spaces in town. I myself had to move out of my space earlier this year due to the raised rent, a space I could barely afford as it was but that now became way out of my pricerange. It was ok with me, over the years the studios around it had started going from music studios to advertisement agencies and studios recording music for ads. They were all nice people there, but I was longing more to be around people making music and art for their own sake, and found a place just outside the city. However, now I realized this was something affecting not only me, but all musicians and artists around town, not only were the rents going to go up, but they were also about to demolish a whole bunch of rehearsal spaces in the centre to build a skyscraper with luxury flats. It felt familiar and it made me angry. I'd like to think that without the musicians in Gothenburg, this town would be what it was 20 years ago when I was a teenager - a dead place associated with seafood, a couple of factories and bingo. I can't tell you how many emails I get from tourists visiting the city because they've heard the music me and other Gothenburg musicians have made. I feel like we've been advertising the city to the world, and what do we get for that? I'm not asking for much, just a decently priced space where I can make music.
All this was in my head and came out as I walked on stage at the big festival in Gothenburg - Way Out West, in itself once a product of the local music scene and now an advertisement for the city. It was a great show with some guest appearances from my old horn players Frida and Kristin. We did a greatest hits show. Rondo, I'm ready for my krogshow now!