Swedish songstress Lykke Li is all but 22 years old, but her debut album, Youth Novels, is making heads turn. An explosion of electronic pop-rock with a little new age thrown into the mix, Lykke Li’s raspy, almost childlike vocals transcend lightly-layered, minimalist instrumentals. Singles “I’m Good I’m Gone,” “Little Bit” and “Breaking It Up” are already impacting global airwaves, not to mention Lykke Li’s avant-garde sense of personal style, which has been heavily noted by more than one fashionista. Despite her busy touring schedule (read: over 25 stops which include Paris, London, New York, Vancouver, San Francisco and Copenhagen), Lykke Li gave Killahbeez a hot minute to answer a few questions that have been on our minds.
You’ve been touring a lot lately! First with El Perro Del Mar and now, solo. How is that going?
It’s going very well, thank you. Over my expectations!
You’ve got a ton of dates scheduled for the U.K. in the fall. Is that where your main fan base is outside of Sweden?
I think so, since I’ve been spending more time there lately then in Sweden. Also my label is signed there.
You’ve been doing the whole summer festivals thing. How do you find that in comparison to playing smaller venues? Do you have a preference?
I find it quite intimidating sometimes ’cause it’s hard working up a vibe if its daytime and thousands of people. My favorite is always to play really late at a really small club.
How did you get started in the music biz? Is it something that you knew you always wanted to do?
You never know exactly what to do ’cause the picture you have in your head does not really fit into reality, but I always knew I wanted to be an artist. And about the biz, it’s just a struggle!
If you weren’t a singer, what would you be doing right now?
Finding myself, educating myself, releasing myself, somewhere down south…
How was it recording the tracks for Youth Novels? What was the process? How was working with Bjorn Yttling and Lasse Marten?
The whole project started kind of loose and spread out, and I love those two guys. It was only in the final recordings in NY that got really intense, but it was a lot of laughter and brainstorming going on… and champagne.
What were your goals and expectations when you recorded the album?
To make an honest and complete album and to not limit myself. I didn’t think about anyone else but me during that period. No expectations but my own.
It seems like a lot of your songs are about unrequited love and love lost. Even with the more upbeat songs or brighter melodies, your lyrics are quite sad and dark. Was that a purposeful theme when writing the album?
No, those were just the things I was going through at the moment…
While dark, your album is very danceable. You once worked as a dancer on a TV show and you dance a lot in your videos too. Is that something that was important to you when writing songs? Making them danceable?
I did not really work as a dancer on TV, as people would like to think. I danced behind another artist ONCE when I was 15. I don’t intend to make dance music, I don’t even like dance music, but I guess it kinda happens naturally…
Who are some of your musical inspirations/ influences?
You lived in a lot of different countries growing up… Sweden, Portugal, Morocco, India… Has living in these places informed your music and style?
I only lived permanently in Sweden and Portugal and traveled to the other places, and no, I don’t think it influenced my music. Solitude in Stockholm influenced my music.
You left home for New York to record your album when you were 19. How was that experience?
I did not record the album that time. I actually did it the second time I got to NY when I was 21. They were both amazing experiences in very different ways.
Who would you love to do a collaboration with in the future?
Bon Iver, Beirut and Phil Spector.
You’ve become a bit of a style icon yourself. How would you describe your personal style?
Hmmm, have I really? My style is a bit schizo but I have a lot of black clothes and a lot of vintage.
What are three items you can’t live without?
Water, music and family.
Any upcoming plans you’d like to share with your fans besides touring?
I like to keep my plans secret until they’re accomplished. It’s a too high risk of failing otherwise.
Anything else you’d like to say to your fans?
I’m really thankful you’ve given me the opportunity to express myself at such early stage, and this is just the first shaky baby steps of my career. I will grow as well as you! One love.