September 28, 2014
Merely - Interview - September 25th, 2014


There something about Sweden’s Merely, although we’re not really sure what it really is. While there isn’t much said about the mysterious 26-year-old experimental pop artist besides a few mentions of Pokémon and her membership in Team Rockit, her music speaks for herself. Meshed against aggressive hardstyle sounds, Merely’s crystalline vocals dabble in everything from the trivialities of everyday life to Scandinavian folklore. Curious to learn a bit more, we wrote to the Gothenburg-based archaeology student about how she’s digging up her own mythologies with her latest record “Nirvana”. She wrote back to us about her creative process and how to really connect with yourself emotionally… in pink and purple font of course.  

September 28, 2014
Words: Peter Quincy Ng

Hey Merely! Good to hear from you as always! 

Right back at ya!

Well for most people who know you, you joined Team Rockit shortly after their first album “1988”. How has working with Gregorian and Ikaros that changed your creative outlook knowing that your sound was quite different that what you initially put out?

When I met Ikaros & Gregorian everything changed, so I guess that also maybe changed or created a new way to express myself, but not like it’s been anything but a natural development. Our friendship and the music we make is probably the most important thing in my life. I think the making of “Anima” made me a better producer as well and everything that has happened in the last two years has made me more confident with my sound and voice. Eric (Berglund) and (label) Sincerely Yours have been a great part in that. My manager and close friend Emilio has supported me everyday too and it really just feels like me all the way now.

Well it must have been good experience. Gregorian and Ikaros are tattooed on your shoulders for Team Rockit’s album artwork.

I didn’t really tattoo their names for the artwork though. I mean it was more like to get my shoulder bear tha truth.

About your new album it’s sonically quite a jump between the dazed-out sound of your first EP “Semblance” and your current work on “Nirvana”. I guess the first observation that comes to mind is that appears to be a much more emotionally-intense album. How has the process of making your  album “Nirvana” differed from the last?

"Nirvana" emotionally took my whole life to make, because it’s about my whole life. Everything that has come near me in one way or the other has made me understand who I am and not understanding everything in life - that is okay. "Semblance" is a very important part of that process of course: the way to (album) “Nirvana”.

The process however is a bit different because it took me like three months to produce “Semblance” and three years to produce “Nirvana”. The most significant difference however is probably that I produced “Nirvana” with Ikaros and Gregorian.

You mention that you used to play your songs for your father and if he cried, then you’d know it was good. What do you think makes a good song? What should be in your mind when you listen to Merely? 

Whoever cries to my songs gives me great evidence that I’ve created something important. But I mean, it must not only be tears: feelings show in very different emotions and expressions. I’d rather say whatever makes people feel something is good for me. About other songs, I never know before I hear it and there’s no red line. It always changes. It’s (those) cosmic decisions.

I think there’s a certain rawness that comes with your music. I think I’ve quoted you in the past that there are such thing as guilty pleasures and only what you like and don’t like. Do you ever get worried that you wouldn’t be taken seriously musically? What do you think today’s youth are missing out in terms of self-expression?

Trust yourself and don’t fall into that gross system where you pretend to be someone you’re not. Norms of nothingness exist alongside everything without meaning, it’s so sad. Whatever you believe in or whatever you do: you are you. 

So it’s hopelessly stupid to live by rules and the system that too many insecure, frightened and lazy people came up with as a quick solution to fit in. “Fit in”, it sounds pretty stupid right? When we literally know nothing, what’s there to fit into? If we at least try some bigger perspectives without clear answers and have respect for nature, I think we can get something beautiful back.

I think it’s a hard concept to grasp, because the music industry is such an image-based one. Take Yung Lean for example, a lot of people think he’s ironic because he raps about Arizona Iced Tea and playing Pokémon cards, but the thing is that’s the reality of many teenagers in Sweden being obsessed with American culture and Japanese anime. In some ways you could say he’s just keeping it real. 

We don’t need to understand everything because for God’s sake - we feel. I see people that fall down to the grey zone of humanity, and it makes me anxious when I see that people like me and my friends not being taken seriously there, both musically and as a person. But then I “come home again” and I only feel sad for them. Of course  I’m indoctrinated to this weird social drama and that has taken me a long time to break free from. Some days are harder than others. This thing is a cycle, some get it and some just don’t and it’s no difference to teens today. 

Although I think the kids can take a cue when you say Chikorita is your favorite Pokémon, you’re also a person of many interests. I hear you were a pretty good figure skater when you were young, but that you’ve that also studied archaeology and are into things like folklore and collecting minerals. What can you tell about us about what we’re missing out on?

I don’t know very much about Pokémon though, I only played the cards only a few times. I love cute things and Pokémons are cute, so when Vice asked me I just said one, but Gregorian & Ikaros have loved Pokémon since like forever.

You seem to know pretty much what’s up, but then I have to tell that I really love animals: all kinds of them. Right now I don’t have any pet, so but I really want a dog. That’s something I think about like all the time. I think I’m gonna get on this year: a Sheltie.

Anything else you wanna tell the world before we leave you?

Dark angels come with peace.

Check out Merely’s “Nirvana” on Spotify below:

September 27, 2014
Brothers of End - Heat (feat. Nina Persson)

Remember Nina Persson and her band The Cardigans? Well they’re back, well at least sort of: three out of five members isn’t too bad right? Anyway, forming as trio Brothers of End and featuring vocalist Nina Persson, the two parties dabble in “Heat”, an obscene love/murder ballad where the two sing back-and-forth in heels and white dresses. Besides the utterly vulgar lines about getting drunk on cheap champagne then giving head among a few other things, the song is an otherwise beautiful in it’s spacious melodies, soft and gentle vocal harmonies and dueting voices. We’re a bit confused but overall we love it. Check it out below:

September 27, 2014
Lisa Alma - Fine

It’s been a gradual switch for Copenhagen’s Lisa Alma who has moved from soft piano-pop to more electronic, beat-driven melodies. The latest of her efforts is that of “Fine”, which sees collaboration Danish songwriter Lasse Lyngbo. Reverberating with its electronic pulses and Lisa’s “oh-so-sexy” vocals, it’s a fitting description for Lisa Alma’s booty-call and latest scorcher “Fine”. Damn girl, is it getting hot in here or what? 

Check it out below:

September 27, 2014
Siri Nilsen - Passajer

Filmed in Poland under the backdrop of empty hallways and open spaces, Siri Nilsen releases her latest video for “Passajer”. Directed by Norwegian director HochR who studies in Poland, the video for “Passajer” (tr. passenger) shows Siri projected over walls of an abandoned swimming pool, old offices and an empty banquet hall, symbolizing the abandoned expression that characterizes her song. Here’s what Siri had to say about the track:

For me, the song is to realize that one can not be saved, but that one must go through their own things and learn by themselves, alone. No one can really help you when all is said and done. The lyrics describe the feeling of being homeless and estranged. In that sense, it fits very well that my face has sung out their innermost thoughts and doubts over abandoned walls in a city I’ve never been to.

Working over it’s minimalistic handclap beat, the mysterious “Passajer” builds on a steady crescendo, as choral harmonies and heavier piano keys sharply build on Siri’s vocal climaxes. You can check out the video below:

September 27, 2014
Johannes Passion - Waves

Uppsala-based Johannes Passion’s got a new track, this time going slow-mo with his chill-infused rap on “Waves”. Dreamweaving with his dazed-out flows, Passion describes the under three-minute-track as a song striving towards happiness and getting things in order.

You can check out the track below:

September 27, 2014
jj - Dynasti

Working again with their go-to cinematographer Oliva Kastebring, jj create a visual spectacle through fire, flame and rivers of red in their latest for “Dynasti”. With its abstract and intermittent nature, “Dynasti” plays out cinematically, heavy on its “V” album imagery as shown through burning pianos and scarification. You can check out the video below and also see if you can also catch a redux of the lyrics from their track “10”:

JJ - Dynasti from Olivia Kastebring on Vimeo.

September 26, 2014
Korallreven - Death is not for Us


An appropriate title for a sophomore release, Swedish Balearic soundmakers Daniel Tjäder (The Radio Dept.) and Marcus Joons of Korallreven put out their first track off their upcoming release for “Death is not for Us”. Contrasting with their earlier South Pacific themed work, the Swedish duo promises more hook-heavy pop sounds and Eastern influences along with featuring spots from I Break Horses’ Maria Lindén and Tensta Gospel Choir. “Death is not for Us” features uplifting synth arpeggio leads alongside clunky, top-heavy percussion and accompanying female vocals.

Their next album “Second Comin’ is slated for release November 4th on Cascine. Check “Death is not for Us” out below: 

September 26, 2014
BANKS - Begging for Thread (Pieces of Juno Remix)

In collaboration with the Nordic Playlist, Kine Jensen of Pieces of Juno put together a fantastic list of glistening, night-time tracks burgeoning with hip-hop infused sounds and snappy beats. Of particular note is her sharp, staccato reworking of BANKS’ “Begging for Thread” chopping through dark vocal loops with Pieces of Juno’s whimsical harp-like sounds. 

You can download her reworking of BANKS’ “Begging for Thread” below and the rest of her collaboration with the Nordic Playlist below:

More information about her Nordic Playlist can be seen here on their website.

September 23, 2014
Nadya - Refugee

Described as a song she never wanted to write but had to, Nadia (Nadya) Kardar’s “Refugee” tells the struggles of an Iranian exile in Sweden. A song to speak up and fight back against the rise of the far-right in Europe, Nadya’s Duvchi-produced track for “Refugee” is a clash of angry hip-hop spits and booming bass echoing a punk-inspired Middle Eastern aura. Currently working with different producers to narrow down the tracks for an upcoming album, you can check out the first of what Kardar calls “Middle Eastern Heavy Bass" below:

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