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Bolam’s ‘Svenska musiknöjen’
A selection of curated media lists from our global community
words – jack hardie
location – malmö, sweden
The phrase ‘Hit Factory’ is commonly uttered when Sweden’s musical impact is discussed. Beyond the nation’s pop music surface, notably upheld by stars including ABBA, Avicii, The Hives and Robyn, there is a smörgåsbord of gems from all nooks and crannies of the musical world. It wasn’t until I crossed the North Sea from Edinburgh and landed in Malmö three years ago that my ears were fully opened to the extent of what Sweden has to offer. Curated to align with my own subjective musical taste, the list below contains artists that have inspired me – and, hopefully, will leave a mark on you as well.
One of the hottest bands to hit the Scandinavian circuit in recent years, Dina Ögon are an absolute delight. Whether they’re on stage or in your headphones, their music is electric and sublime. To quote the Stockholm-hailing group quite accurately describing themselves, they are “a love child between Fleetwood Mac, Khruangbin and obscure Motown b-sides.” Their debut self-titled album was on frequent rotation when I was first introduced to them; it contains some very re-listenable music that retains its shine. I had the lucky opportunity of seeing them perform live and, after hearing Anna Ahnlund’s angelic voice in real time and experiencing the band’s joint synergy and performance, I can safely say they earned the “better live” stamp.
Sibille Attar was an instant admiration; there’s just something about her. Having been a fan of Björk and Elizabeth Fraser since childhood, it was the echoes of inspiration from both which ring through in her music [with hints of Kate Bush and Karin Deijer, too] which piqued my interest. Her songwriting is beautifully bold and she has the ability to be powerful and playful at the same time. She frequently makes use of reverb and dream-like soundscapes in her music, accompanied by her endearingly juvenile yet very authoritative voice piercing through the haze. Her style is very much her own, and she does it so well. It’s no surprise she’s been dubbed ‘The Queen of Swedish Indie.’
03_Off The Meds
Off The Meds have been on the rise in recent years, even earning appreciation overseas – especially in the UK underground electronic music scene. The notable track that drew my attention to them around four years ago was Joy Orbison’s remix of ‘Belter,’ which did the rounds in British Shazam libraries at the time. The group produce a very well crafted blend of deep, silky and melting rhythms with professional sound design, elevated by Kamohelo’s distinct voice that gives the music a cheeky attitude, held together with stylistic sass.
Kevin Parker cites Dungen as a massive influence on his early work with Tame Impala, experiencing a great ‘aha!’ moment upon discovering the extremely humble psychedelic-rock band from Stockholm. The mastermind behind their songwriting, Gustav Ejstes, has populated their extensive discography pulling from a plethora of influences, many from 60s/ 70s prog, garage rock and traditional Swedish folk music. Considering the fact they only speak Swedish in their music, their reverence in English speaking parts of the world is a testament to their greatness.
Talking of influence, the mark Merit Hemmingson has left on Sweden’s musical language is so dignified that it earned her a place in the Swedish Hall of Fame. Not to mention she was also awarded a ‘Litterus Et Arbitus’ medal from The King of Sweden as a thank you for her outstanding contributions throughout her 70+ year career. She has led a life filled with open-minded thinking and rare musical talent, difficult to sum up in words. Her most notable impact was as the segway between traditional Swedish folk music and the mass public ear, incorporating elements of the former into the mainstream music of the time, re-igniting the common interest in cultural legacy.
Ume Sami is one of the several regional varieties of language that exist within the native Scandinavian culture of Sami, and Katarina Barruk is said to be one of only a dozen people who can speak [and sing] it fluently. This makes her music all the more fascinating and otherworldly. My partner managed to catch one of her live performances in Malmö and she was absolutely captivated. Barruk stands out as an artist with towering talent in songwriting, composition, instrumentation and performance, but she also shines as a spearhead amongst the few people still practising this endangered and mostly forgotten language in the modern age.
Malmö’s own Golden Ivy is nothing short of entrancing. I found his music when researching artists located in the city before I made my move over, and he’s been a favourite ever since. His mesmerising folktronica merges melancholy and meditativity, all magnificently weaved by Ivar Lantz. Whether sun-kissed or snow-capped, this music, with its varying feelings, fits within any season of Sweden. His sound is signified by the use of a violin which is remarkably moving and sings the narrative of each track. The feeling it creates in its beauty makes the mind wander to evocative places. Whenever he incorporates rhythms and beats into his music it is hypnotic – Balearic-inspired and riddled with rich lukewarm textures in the soft melodies and drum machines.
I’ve always been a sucker for drum focused, meaty, minimal tech house so, when I realised that Per Hammar lives in Malmö, I got very excited. If you like mechanical and body-moving club music that has an organic evolution with subtle glitching details, stylistic melodic elements and cool noises to keep you interested, he’s your man. The attention to the balance of rigid rhythm and movement in composition within his tracks could be compared to other strong acts of the minimal tech scene like iO [Mulen] or HOSTOM. The Helsingborgian is locally known as an underground Malmö staple, having earned a reputation in the city DJing for 10+ years. Still today, dancefloors are filled when his name is on the bill.
Sacred Grove is a name that’s been populating my search history a lot as of late. Listening to Teodor’s music is like gliding over gold trimmed clouds, glistening with an iridescent sound palette. The rising Malmö producer creates pacey and levitating moods that are addictive to the ear, which is great, because his tracks are lengthy adventures – yet they still leave you wanting more. Drums, like liquid, propel the sounds through the cinematic world they create, with nods to 90s rave, old skool deep house and trance glittered in gaps between the details.
Masterful storytelling and inimitable attention to rhythm are only a couple of many elements that make the Stockholm-based artist Dorisburg so marvellous. I’ve been a big fan for a long time now [even before I knew he was Swedish], so I couldn’t not put him on this list. Each one of his tracks – ranging from deep, emotive techno to textured minimal house – are quests in their own right with so much focus on detail, layering, storytelling and sound design. How he does so much with so little always baffles me. The hypnotic journey you are taken on through his music is quite special and, frankly, not done in this way by anyone else [that I’ve heard].
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