With Melody A.M. Chris and Doron celebrate the music of and musicians from the Nordics.
We delve into life in the region through the lens of the artists who know it best. Join us on a musical journey through these fascinating, beautiful countries.
Episode 8 - IAMAMIWHOAMI
Swedish singer-songwriter, producer and filmmaker Jonna Lee started her music career as a fairly unassuming folk musician. Her big international breakthrough came when, in 2009, a series of mysterious videos started appearing on YouTube - and quickly went viral. Speculation as to their creator was rife - was it Christina Aguilera? Could it be Goldfrapp? - but it eventually turned out to be iamamiwhoami, Jonna’s electronic music and audiovisual project in collaboration with Claes Björklund.
Jonna founded her own record label, to whom it may concern, and three beautiful electronic albums followed, with iamamiwhoami’s music ranging from glacial soundscapes to pounding electronic beats and pop behemoths, all accompanied by spectacular visual counterparts.
Long before anyone had heard of covid-19 and lockdowns, iamamiwhoami were at the cutting edge of online concerts, creating immersive experiences which fans all over the world could enjoy. 2010’s In Concert, the first iteration of their live shows, was not only a musical art installation but also an effective way for a new act to perform to fans internationally, through an online shared experience.
In 2017, Jonna embarked on a solo project under the moniker ionnalee, although she maintained the same ethos, releasing a visual film alongside the album Everyone Afraid to be Forgotten. The follow-up, Remember the Future, featured collaborations from Röyksopp, Zola Jesus and fellow Swede Jennie Abrahamson.
And now, in 2022, Jonna is back with Claes as the pair release their latest iamamiwhoami album, Be Here Soon. We caught up with Jonna just a couple of weeks before its release - due on the same day as the birth of her first child - to discuss this latest project.
Check out our artist playlist with a selection of (a modest) twenty of our favourite iamamiwhoami and ionnalee tracks at www.melodyam.com/iam
Episode 7 - EFTERKLANG
Danish band Efterklang formed in Copenhagen in late 2000 and have been bewitching audiences with their blend of atmospheric pop and lush orchestral rock ever since.
No strangers to worldwide critical acclaim, as well as commercial success in their native Denmark, their career has seen them form their own record label, start several side projects, as well as travel to an abandoned Russian settlement near the North Pole to record sounds in and around the decaying industrial sites.
In 2021 the trio - Casper Clausen, Mads Brauer and Rasmus Stolberg - released their sixth studio album, Windflowers. The isolation of recent years allowed them to refocus on the essential, reconnecting with each other and nature, and embody change through the symbolic titular flower, resulting in one of the most beautiful records to come out of the collective trauma the world endured thanks to the pandemic.
We caught up with Casper to look back on two decades of Efterklang, reflect on the band’s illustrious live career, and discuss his own recent critically-acclaimed debut solo album, Better Way.
Check out our Efterklang-inspired playlist at www.melodyam.com/efterklang
Episode 6 - STEFAN STORM AND THE SOUND OF ARROWS
The Sound of Arrows are a Swedish electropop duo - often compared with Pet Shop Boys at their dreamiest - comprising of Stefan Storm and Oskar Gullstrand. They broke through in 2011 with the album, Voyage, which quickly became a cult hit for the Popjustice generation with its hopeful lyrics, soaring melodies and euphoric hooks. They followed this eventually in 2017 with the album Stay Free, which built on their sound and added a stellar cast of supporting characters, including Annie and Niki and the Dove.
With Oskar focusing on work in film, it’s fair to say that Stefan is the lead player in The Sound of Arrows and he has his fingers in multiple musical pies, having written with the likes of British legends Richard X and Xenomania, and, in 2020, co-writing and producing Norwegian icon, Annie’s long-awaited comeback album, Dark Hearts.
We caught up with him to chat about his work with The Sound of Arrows and Annie, as well as the many other collaborations he’s done or has in the pipeline. We’ve also built a playlist of his top tunes, which you can find at www.melodyam.com/stefanstorm
Episode 5 - THE ABBA SPECIAL
ABBA need no introduction. Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid are four of the most famous Swedes of all time and one of the world’s biggest bands ever, with hundreds of millions of album sales and their ubiquitous Greatest Hits collection, Gold, having spent more than 900 weeks in the UK charts. No one will have missed their recent comeback after 40 years, with the album Voyage and their upcoming Abbatar residency in London.
But ABBA haven’t always been viewed with the reverence they are today, though, often being sniffed at by critics and forgotten by audiences until a resurgence in interest in the 1990s, spearheaded by Erasure, Australian films Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Muriel’s Wedding, and the group A-Teens, led them back to where they are today - helped in no small part by the show and film Mamma Mia, of course.
So it makes perfect sense that, in Stockholm, the place where it all began, these pop behemoths should eventually get their own museum, which opened in 2013. It quickly became a staple part of any tourist’s visit and has maintained its huge success ever since.
We wanted to find out a little bit more about this cultural Mecca and in this episode we Are speaking to Museum Director, Caroline Fagerlind, not only about the museum itself, but also about ABBA’s Stockholm, their new music and the ABBA VOYAGE shows.
Episode 4 - JANUS RASMUSSEN
Faroese musician, Janus Rasmussen, has many strings to his bow and, alongside his own solo music and a multitude of collaborations with other artists (as producer, engineer and songwriter), he is also famous for his highly-celebrated work with Ólafur Arnalds as KIASMOS.
Now based in Reykjavik, Rasmussen’s discography has spanned multiple genres. The electro-pop elements of his early career with the band Bloodgroup have evolved into a rich, predominantly instrumental techno-tingle soundscape and his prowess as a producer has also brought about a successful side-career as a host of a series of production tricks videos on Youtube.
Rasmussen’s debut album, Vin, was nominated for the Nordic Music Council Prize and we’ve included tracks from that record together with other highlights on our Janus Rasmussen playlist which you can check out on our website at www.melodyam.com/janus
Episode 3 - PURE SHORES
What do you get when you combine two of Sweden’s hottest songwriters and performers in a duo? Musical magic, of course.
And magic is something which Pure Shores, made up of Ji Nilsson and Marlene, provide with everything they release.
The pair have always worked together behind the scenes, co-writing and producing on each other’s solo hits. Both burst into the scene around 2014, with Marlene’s instantly iconic Bon Voyage, and Ji’s Heartbreakfree.
They continued releasing gorgeous solo hits throughout the years, but it’s when they duet together that they truly shine.
First up came a one-off release for International Women’s Day, Love You Anyway. The pair then treated us to a couple more duets over the years, until they decided to make things official in 2019, launching Pure Shores - yes, they are named after that legendary All Saints song.
Each pop nugget provides three minutes of sugary joy, always recognisable with the “Pure Shores” tag at the top of the track.
2022 sees them release their first EP, as well as continuing to work on music for other artists.
We caught up with Marlene and Ji to geek out over our collective love of pop music and get their guide to the coolest hangouts in Stockholm.
We’ve also put together a playlist of some of their choicest jams, so check it out on our website at www.melodyam.com/pureshores