December 31st, 2012
|Back in October, my pianist Jonas got
stuck in New York after the city got hit by hurricane Sandy. The roads
were flooded, flights were cancelled, even the Chinatown buses stood
still. This was two days before our west coast tour was supposed to
start. I decided to ask for your help. I asked
if anyone would be able to drive him to Boston where I knew we could
get him on a plane. In return I offered a little money and a song.
I was shocked when I checked my email a few minutes later and it was packed with people wanting to help. Shortly I had two girls on the case, Olivia and Maddy. I promised them a song for their job and so here it is. On the last day of the year.
Olivia & Maddy
It's of course a song for all of you who offered to help. And as I sing in the song, I didn't know I had such an army to mobilize. I wonder what else we can do? To start with, maybe I could get you to donate a few bucks to those directly affected by the hurricane itself.
Happy new year to all of you, I hope I get to see you soon.
December 26th, 2012
We got pulled over by cops in Germany on the last days of tour, looking for drugs or illegal immigrants. White vans with tinted windows are probably high on their lists, they would be on mine too. They went through our pockets first, "if you tell us you have drugs now before we find them you only have to pay a fine, otherwise we will arrest you". We just stood there, arms stretched out like scarecrows. They pulled out a plastic bag of coins out of Hampus' jacket, "for drugs?" they asked. "No, for icecream" replied Hampus.
Then they went through my suitcase which after months of tour sickness was just packed to the brim with nameless medicine. "This is for fever, the blue one's are for sinus relief, the red one's for the stomach, those things are Toasty Toes - for your feet, that's just vitamins, those are for jetlag...".
It was like someone packed up my life in front of me and asked me to explain it. "No officer, I know it looks like a big mess but it makes total sense somehow". With nothing to report, nothing to bust us for they left without a word. Dissapointed, or maybe that's just what I read into the scene (the way they drove off - I've never seen such a slow and sad acceleration).
Back home things have aged in their own ways, just like I've aged in mine. Internships have turned into jobs, relationships have turned into families. The fawns outside my window have grown a thicker winter fur and learned how to dig the summer apples out of the snow. Those sweet frozen summer apples, probably fermented inside, the fawns wobble back into the woods on their Bambi legs, happy and rednosed. Upstairs there's a baby on the way any day now and the whole house pricks up it's ears everytime there's a sound from up there, any sound that would indicate that it's time. I don't know what a baby on the way sound would be, but I'm listening for it.
It's a calm scene I come home to. One of routines and catching up with friends. I've forgotten how these things work, it makes me a bit uneasy. I notice I have no clean sheets and my next laundry day is next week. But my suitcase, my beloved suitcase is lying open on the floor. I empty out the medicines but leave the clothes from tour in there, like sheets in a bed. I crawl into it and close it halfway. In here everything makes sense.
12 / 12 / 12
November 7th, 2012
(Really looking forward to this)
Thursday 14 February 2013 - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney.
Presented by The Thousands.
The "Jens Lekman I Know What Love Isn't" Valentine's Day Show.
Tickets on sale now via Moshtix.
Friday 15 February 2013 - The Garden Party, Southbank, Melbourne.
(Behind Melbourne Recital Centre).
Tickets on sale 16 November: www.melbournerecital.com.au
Saturday 16 February 2013 - The Zoo, Brisbane.
Presented by The Thousands.
Tickets on sale now via Oztix.
Monday 18 February 2013 - The Festival Gardens, Perth International Arts Festival.
Tickets on sale now: www.perthfestival.com.au
November 7th, 2012
The topic of the month is "Did u know?"
Send me facts.
photo by Karla G
November 6th, 2012
|8.25 PM... Just heard the news. Ok, time to party.
November 5th, 2012
|So we're playing in Los Angeles tomorrow
on election night. That will be interesting. I'm contemplating how to
address that situation. Maybe we should have two different sets
depending on the outcome? Like South Park had two different episodes
ready to air depending on who won in 2008. I'm thinking one sad set and
one happy set.
Or maybe in honour of democracy we should have a voting process where you get to vote for the songs to be played. But then I'm thinking of the one problem with democracy, that when everyone gets to have their say the final result usually ends up being a compromise, a boring washed out decision that no one really wants. This is why I don't trust music awards where people get to vote (and I never win).
An american election must seem like this too sometimes, that feeling that what you get is something inbetween what you wanted and what you didn't want. Having been here for the last election I have to say this one feels very different. Gone are the posters, the pins, the excitement of being part of something historical that for once has been chosen and not fallen upon you. If you ask someone who they are going to vote for you hear "well, you know, that guy, you know who I mean".
I'm not from here, but I hope that guy is Obama, I really do. It's not just that Mitt Romney seems like a really bad idea. Change takes time, and the gigantic tumbleweed that is the United States has just started slowly rolling in the right direction.
October 31st, 2012
|Halloween in Portland. I don't know what
to dress up as. I remember one show I did in New York once, it was
around this time. I was nervous, New York crowds can for some reason
seem extremely reserved and cold even though they're not. I wanted to
break the ice so I said "So what are you guys gonna be for Halloween?"
and this one guy shouted "I was you last year".
The last two months have been great. I mean sure we've been sick all the time, me and the band. Colds and flues have circulated from bandmember to bandmember as they do when you're seven people working hard, not sleeping and constantly sharing the same air. But we've been happy, our noses running and our bodies aching as we cuddled up in the back of the van after each show, already dreaming of tomorrow's show.
It was hard in the beginning. All of a sudden it struck me that it's really been five years since the last album, that people have grown older and that there's a significant distance between what was and what is. It was hard to play the new songs. But I stuck with it, knowing that the new album is not for everyone but a lot for someone, I kept looking for that someone in the crowd, the one person who knew every verse of The World Moves On. And show after show the songs grew until they found their place.
The I Know What Love Isn't / That's The Way Love Is seven inch single is now available in the webshop and the Moleskine notebooks are coming up as well. There will be shows in other parts of the world early next year, I will tell you about that soon. I'm really looking forward to the west coast leg of the US tour that's starting tomorrow.
So anyway, should I be Death from Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" (need black robe, white facepaint, chessboard) or just go as myself? I think I have this Jens Lekman costume all figured out.
October 31st, 2012
|Olivia and Maddy, thank you so much for
driving Jonas to Boston. I'm writing that song for you now. And the
rest of you who offered to make the drive - wow, I'm amazed. I didn't
know I had such an army to mobilize. This makes me feel mad with power.
October 30th, 2012
|Dear New Yorkers,
Hope you're ok after the storm.
My pianist Jonas is stuck in NY after his flight got cancelled and we need him in Seattle on thursday for the west coast tour. We're trying to get him on a flight from Boston thursday morning but all the trains are sold out and the buses are cancelled. Is there anyone out there who would be up for driving a really friendly and cute swede from NYC to Boston tomorrow? You would get paid of course. And I will owe you a favour. I'll write you a song or something. Seriously. Email me : firstname.lastname@example.org
October 28th, 2012
|I'm in Portland, OR for a few days. Anything fun happening? What should I do here? Please email me.
October 10th, 2012
Tonight on Jimmy Fallon:
Funny sketches, The Roots, Christopher Walken talks about the famous cowbell sketch, Pete Townshend discusses his new book and Jens Lekman sings a song.
October 6th, 2012
You know, when I've discussed the importance of comedy and the influence it's had on me in my music, the album I've always wished I could've referred to is this one, my friend Tig Notaro's already famous set at Largo a few weeks back. This is a perfect example of what comedy should be for, of how it can be used to handle the darkest moments in our lives. I cried after I listened to this.
The very talented and funny Louis C.K puts it out on his website. It's only 5 dollars and a portion of this goes to cancer research. In Louis' words:
"...Tig is a friend of mine and she is very funny. I love her voice on stage. One night I was performing at a club in LA called Largo. Tig was there. She was about to go on stage. I hadn't seen Tig in about a year and I said how are you? She replied "well I found out today that I have cancer in both breasts and that it has likely spread to my lymph nodes. My doctor says it looks real bad. ". She wasn't kidding. I said "uh. Jesus. Tig. Well. Do you... Have your family... Helping?". She said "well my mom was with me but a few weeks ago she fell down, hit her head and she died". She still wasn't kidding.
Now, I'm pretty stupid to begin with, and I sure didn't know what to say now. I opened my mouth and this came out. "jeez, Tig. I. Really value you. Highly.". She said "I value you highly too, Louie.". Then she held up a wad of note-paper in her hand and said "I'm gonna talk about all of it on stage now. It's probably going to be a mess". I said "wow". And with that, she went on stage.
I stood in the wings behind a leg of curtain, about 8 feet from her, and watched her tell a stunned audience "hi. I have cancer. Just found out today. I'm going to die soon". What followed was one of the greatest standup performances I ever saw. I can't really describe it but I was crying and laughing and listening like never in my life. Here was this small woman standing alone against death and simply reporting where her mind had been and what had happened and employing her gorgeously acute standup voice to her own death.
The show was an amazing example of what comedy can be. A way to visit your worst fears and laugh at them. Tig took us to a scary place and made us laugh there. Not by distracting us from the terror but by looking right at it and just turning to us and saying "wow. Right?". She proved that everything is funny. And has to be. And she could only do this by giving us her own death as an example. So generous."
October 2nd, 2012
One of my favourite books I discovered this year was Joe Brainard's "I Remember". I mentioned that earlier, I know. But someone told me he'd used the simple form of this book - every paragraph begins with "I remember..." - as a poetry exercise for the kids in his class. And I thought it could be a nice topic of the month. Not so much a topic maybe as a form, a simple rule to adhere to. Much like the third person rule we did last month.
You don't have to read the book, it's simple, if you write to me this month you just have to begin every paragraph with "I remember...". Here's a few excerpts from Joe Brainard's book to illustrate:
I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.
I remember when my father would say "Keep your hands out from under the covers" as he said goodnight. But he said it in a nice way.
I remember when I thought that if you did anything bad, policemen would put you in jail.
I remember a girl in school one day who, just out of the blue, went into a long spiel all about how difficult it was to wash her brother’s pants because he didn’t wear underwear.
I remember the first time I met Frank O’Hara. He was walking down Second Avenue. It was a cool early Spring evening but he was wearing only a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. And blue jeans. And moccasins. I remember that he seemed very sissy to me. Very theatrical. Decadent. I remember that I liked him instantly.
I remember liver.
I remember the chair I used to put my boogers behind.
September 22nd, 2012
Today on Loose Ends:
Technology, incest, funny comedy, amazing music from Nigeria, the man who invented the contraceptive pill talks about his new play and Jens Lekman sings a song.
September 17th, 2012
I did some counting last week and realized that the Hackney Empire show in London this thursday is my 500th show!
September 17th, 2012
Let me tell you a little bit about what we have on the merch table for our shows ok? Ok, we have a limited seven inch of the single I Know What Love Isn't with my cover of Ten City's "That's The Way Love Is" as the b-side. I thought those two songs went well together, I love how the titles contradict each other. Then there's a T-shirt with design by me and my friend Otto, inspired by an Allen Ginsberg book cover Otto showed me. The shirt is available in black on cream and cream on black. Last but not least, there's a limited edition of Moleskine notebooks specially designed for me by John Gilsenan. The front says in gold "Maybe tonight I can re-write this sad song" which was a line from a song that never made it on the album but I thought it suited a notebook. Oh, and then there's vinyl and CD of course. And all this is tour only merch for now, if there's any left at the end I will sell it through the webshop.
The golden keys that I used to sell at shows have sadly been discontinued. The man who made them has decided to retire. If you own one, treasure it.
September 15th, 2012
Tomorrow, the 16th: Free show and record signing at Bengans in Stockholm (Drottninggatan). 15:30!
September 13th, 2012
OUT OF OFFICE AUTO REPLY
I am out of the office between sept 7th and a few months onwards. I read all email but will be very slow at replying, I won't be able to reply to everyone. If it's urgent, talk to Ben (at) Secretlycanadian.com
September 13th, 2012
My old bandmate Viktor Sjoberg has released a really nice live album with his jazz ensemble. It's a free download. Thought I should let you know.
September 5th, 2012
EUROPE # 2
Dec 7 - Zurich, CH - Kilbi Im Exil
Dec 5 - Rome, IT - Circolo Degli Artisti
Dec 4 - Ravenna, IT - Bronson
Dec 3 - Munich, DE - Freiheiz
Dec 1 - Frankfurt, DE - Zoom
Nov 30 - Amsterdam, NL - Bitterzoet
Nov 29 - Brussells, BE - Botanique (Orangerie)
Nov 27 - Bristol, UK - Thekla
Nov 26 - Leeds, UK - The Wardrobe
Nov 25 - Glasgow, UK - The Hug and Pint
Nov 23 - Cork, IE - Cork Opera House (Half Moon Theatre)
Nov 22 - Dublin, IE - Whelans
September 3rd, 2012
Tomorrow, the 4th: Free show and record signing at Bengans in Gothenburg. 17:30!
September 3rd, 2012
So you walk out and it's a cloudy monday morning and you buy a coffee from Pressbyrån and head off to do your errands and then something gets stuck under your shoe and you reach down to remove it and it turns out to be your face. You've been walking on your own face. And then you realize that it's from a newspaper and it's the day your album comes out and you've been in a bubble lately and completely forgotten about it. And then what do you do? Well obviously you gotta make something special out of this day so you buy a slice of cake at the bakery and you sit there and watch the sun burn its way through those thick Gothenburg clouds.
Last time I released an album I experienced that the face in the paper that I was stepping on was not my own face. I woke up in the morning and I thought of myself in third person. I thought to myself, "This is weird, I gotta tell Jens about this". I feel it this time too and it's not a bad feeling, it amuses me.
There's no topic for this month but if you write to me either write about yourself in third person or make up a new persona for yourself. You don't need to say anything new or turn it into anything big, just step out of your own shoes for a while. It's nice. Trust me.
September 3rd, 2012
Here's the opening bands for the first leg of the European tour. Some of them I've heard, some of them I know, some will be pleasant new experiences.
Madrid - La Familia Del Arbol
Barcelona - Evripidies and His Tragedies
Helsinki - Mick Thomas
Aarhus - Broken Twin
Copenhagen - Broken Twin
Oslo - Joel Gibb (the Hidden Cameras)
Malmo - Solander
Gothenburg - Det Stora Monstret
Stockholm - Mariam The Believer
August 24th, 2012
Joining me on tour from Manchester to Berlin on the upcoming European tour is my friend from Melbourne, Sophia Brous, who is also the voice singing with me on Erica America. I used to see Sophia perform countless times in countless projects when I lived down there, often doing experimental jazzy tropical sounds. Recently she's been focusing on her solo material however which is classic pop woven with intricate arrangments. I decided to ask her three questions in anticipation of our upcoming shows.
Jens - First of all, how's Melbourne doing? Is it all cold and dreary down there? Is the wind reaching it's cold and skinny arms through every door crack and are the magpies shivering on the powerlines? Would I have hated being there right now? Please tell me so because I don't believe it's true.
Sophia - Melbourne is overgrown with blossoms and today boys were walking around in short shorts because it was sunny for almost 10 whole minutes, and only hailed ONCE. We live in paradise Jens, remember? The music is good and the coffee is h-o-t.
Jens - One of the questions artists really hate getting is "how would you describe your music". But I've come to realize the last years that it's actually something you as an artist should be able to answer, at least if you have any kind of vision. So... how would you describe your music?
Sophia - That Question. I guess I'd call it industrial lounge....exotica psych pop....fetish music.
Jens - Your voice is one of the most fascinating voices I've heard. There is so much nuance in it. One second it sounds like a tropical bird, next second it's the roar of the Niagara falls. Where did it come from?
Sophia - ...from everything I hear or want to hear or heard when I was a younger nymph.. It came from being a music school misfit and wanting to sing into myself and out through my heart.
August 11th, 2012
It's Way Out West in Gothenburg and with Way Out West comes certain traditions such as me and my housemate's new tradition of stealing one of their bands and setting up an intimate backyard show somewhere. This year it was Nite Jewel and me playing. As the sun reached it's highest point in the sky I was setting up a PA we had borrowed from a friend. But ten years of touring and recording has still not taught me anything about sound technology. After consulting a few wise friends I had to give up, Nite Jewel had to go soundcheck soon and people had bands to see at the festival.
So we decided to do it completely acoustic. We set the piano in the middle of the crowd and my pianist Jonas on a chair next to it and just started playing. I walked around the crowd so everybody would get to hear something. I'd say we did alright. There was a highway nearby and I realized pretty soon that some people probably didn't hear anything at all. Still, a nice idea. I was happy.
Nite Jewel however had a clearer idea of what had to be done. They gathered the scattered crowd closer and with just a tiny casio keyboard, three harmonies and some beatboxing they had everyone go completely silent. It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. They did Frank Ocean's "Thinking About You" as a big truck drove by and I found myself folding my ears like a rabbit to be able to get every frequency and every note.
At the festival site later I hear grumpy people mutter about the new decibel limits. It's not loud enough. And I find myself thinking that I love the new decibel limits because they force music to find new ways. The best shows I've ever done have always been the ones where both me and the crowd are faced with an obstacle, and then we overcome it together.
August 10th, 2012
Proudly presenting the title track from I Know What Love Isn't. With another one-take video by Marcus Söderlund.
August 7th, 2012
I got Instagram just so I could upload this photo of me and a kitten.
August 7th, 2012
My friend Steven Hall has a song called Lost In Thought. It's a really beautiful song, one of those songs you write once and then spend your whole life recording and fixing. One of those songs that will just never be finished. I think I have heard around 15-20 versions of the song so far.
One of these versions is the Drop Out Orchestra Remix which is the remix of a version that yours truly has lent some harmonies to. You can hear that one here.
Steven was a friend of Arthur Russell and they used to play together. I met him in NY in 2008 when I lived there. Steven also plays with Arthur's Landing which consists of Arthur's original musicians, keeping Arthur's memory and music alive.
August 6th, 2012
+ time = comedy. But I don't have the benefit of time. So I'm just
going to tell you the tragedy and know that everything's going to be
Sending my friend Tig a lot of love. She's the best.
August 6th, 2012
The shoes have now found a home.
August 3rd, 2012
topic for the month of August is: running. More about that soon but
speaking of which - I have a pair of running shoes, completely new,
size 42,5 (european size). As an artist you get shoes at festivals
sometimes which is nice but I usually end up never wearing them. So
does anyone want them? They're black and blue, waterproof,
quite nice actually. I'll send them for free if you pay for shipping.
July 31st, 2012
From Service Records there's both the original
CD and a deluxe picture disc vinyl.
July 24th, 2012
Sept 8th - Madrid - Copernico
July 15th, 2012
Yes, I know I'm the last in the world but there is now an official Twitter account in my name. This is run by the nice people at my management. I won't be using it, but they will have the freshest news for you when I will be too busy to update you here.
Also, I'm going to have to take down the fake Jens Lekmans on Facebook because they are creating a lot of confusion and heartache for me, mostly in my personal life when friends think I'm ignoring them. If any of you who read this happens to own one of the accounts and want to keep it, email me and we'll figure something out. Otherwise, me and my bulldozers will head in sometime next week and turn them all into one official page, also run by my management.
As always, all communication goes through
smalltalk. Don't change the frequency.
July 15th, 2012
last couple of weeks have been filled with interviews. One thing most
journalists ask me
is, since the album is a break up album, if making an album like this
helps you be done with the heartache. To which I reply no, if there is
any conclusion on this album it would be that a broken heart is
something you carry with you, for better or for worse.
But when we sit
there talking, and the preview copy of the album lies on the table
inbetween us next to our cups of coffee, I find myself looking at it
and thinking "That's that... All that time and all those feelings are
on that CD. And I'm done with it now". And like a tombstone
is for the living, and not for the dead, I can leave it there and move
on. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
July 14th, 2012
Have you read Joe Brainard's "I Remember"? You Should.
July 6th, 2012
wrote earlier this year about the song contest we used to have at our
old school. Like a miniature Eurovision, the highlight of the year.
Then in my dad's record collection I found this vinyl single of the
winner of said song contest in 1984, apparently back then they let you
record the song and print it. Anyway, the song is brilliant, funky
punky music school disco! Maybe more interesting if you know swedish,
but still. I ripped it to my computer and since there was a part in the
middle that sounded really bad (old vinyl, poorly recorded guitar solo)
I did a quick re-edit (Re-edit is such a fancy term for five minutes of
copy and paste).
July 6th, 2012
I think I should repeat the concept behind the "topic of the month" for
those of you who are new. Each month (well, most months) I pick a
topic. This topic should be the main subject of your e-mail if you want
to write to me. If you want to talk about something else you can make
associations, find reference points.
July 5th, 2012
I heard someone on TV a few days ago lamenting about how the youth of today is less rebellious than they were 30 years ago. This was in reference to his youth as a satanic priest.
It made me think of a conversation I once had, I think it was five years ago and I was doing an interview when we came into the subject of youth culture and teenage rebellion. The journalist was disappointed that it seemed like music and youth culture wasn't evolving, that kids weren't revolting against their parents anymore. She was specifically thinking of how indiepop still had such a grip on the younger generation, that they were listening to the same bands and wearing the same clothes as their parents. That they were so nice and polite. Oh, and by indiepop she meant the specific subculture. She meant the people who wear their fringe like Roger McGuinn's as Edwyn Collins once sang.
But I had to disagree. I mean, when your parents revolted against their parents by doing the opposite and expect you to revolt against them, what better way to revolt against your parents by not revolting? By dressing up the same way, listen to the same music and annoy the hell out of them? I may be wrong. Maybe it's that mass unemployment and lack of housing has made a generation scared of being on bad terms with the older generation. It's just that everytime I hear someone say that young people don't rebel against their parents anymore it seems they have failed to see how intelligent and small scaled teenage rebellion can be.
The topic of the month is teenage rebellion. Tell me about yours.
June 28th, 2012
Me and Kristian are DJ:ing at Saltsjobar in Stockholm tomorrow, friday the 29th from 17:00 - 23:00. It's the bar at Elite Hotel Marina Towers, Saltsjoqvarns Kaj 25. Be there in person or in spirit or in both.
June 27th, 2012
My friend Marcus Soderlund shot two videos for me a few weeks back. I wanted them as simple and straight as possible. Naked. Honest. No storyline. They were both done in one take each and the first one, Erica America, is here.
June 26th, 2012
The future as I see it
Nov 14 - Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's
Sept 26 - Berlin, DE - Postbahnhof
June 22nd, 2012
I did a mix for my friend Malin's web magazine Mint, on the topic "Holes". From cavities to summerholes to tunnels and assholes. Not sure if it makes sense to people outside Sweden or to anyone at all but there's no reason everything has to make sense all the time.
Like Paris where I'm at right now to do interviews and photo sessions and where nothing makes sense and why should it. I go for a walk through the warm summer evening, it's the day of music here today so the streets are full of musicians and people. Day of music? As if Paris is silent the other 364 days? I buy some chips and a fizzy drink. Outside my hotel an old woman says something to me in french and I ask her if she speaks english to which she replies with a laugh, hands me a coin and leaves with a smile. What was that all about?
My friend A says doing press is the best cause you realize what you actually were thinking with the record while you're talking. Which is true but I came prepared this time. I lined up my old cuddly toys and teddybears in front of me at home before I left and then I imagined the questions I would get. Panda - You've taken five years to finish this record, what's been going on? Snowleopard - What has been your main musical influence on this album? Mr Snugglepuff - How much is real? How much is fiction?
No topic for this month but I'll have one for July. Gotta run now, got a date with Eurostar.
June 7th, 2012
Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't
1. Every Little Hair Knows Your Name
Foreword by Jon Coombs:
Tracey Thorn wrote a song that reached Jens in the early stages of his new album, I Know What Love Isn't. In her song she sang "Oh Jens, oh Jens / your songs seem to look through a different lens / you're still so young, love ends just as easy as it's begun." A touching moment for the Swedish songwriter, having been a fan since his teens. But it came to him in a time when he found himself very confused and in doubt. He was changing and, subsequently, so were his songs. They weren't looking through that lens anymore.
I Know What Love Isn't came out of a break up, something Jens didn't see as worth writing about at first. The songs began more fleeting than the last go around, on his 2007 album Night Falls Over Kortedala. The songs began building from images and memories and soon began to take their own route, one that Lekman wasn't privy to their destination. In "The World Moves On" he paints a picture of a sweltering summer in the city of Melbourne where he lived while writing and recording the album. The hot days that led up to the Black Saturday bushfires, but also more mundane images of feeding possums in a park or getting in trouble with some guy on a scooter. It seems to lead nowhere at first but the aimlessness in itself reaches heartbreaking conclusions later on, summed up by the soaring chorus "and you don't get over a broken heart, you just learn to carry it gracefully". Like Joan Didion once said that she writes entirely to find out what she's thinking, Jens wrote until he caught up with his thoughts. And of course they led him right back to the break up.
Musically, I Know What Love Isn't chooses an economic route. From the vast palette he created for Kortedala, he's only chosen a few sombre colors this time around. There are strings but not a string section, an upright piano and not a grand, a single saxophone and gracenotes from a flute. The songs are lighter, almost aerodynamic, Jens explains - "I wanted the songs to take off almost unnoticeably, where the chorus is separated from the verse only through a small detail like a tambourine or a harmony. Like when you're in an airplane taking off and you look out the window and realize you're already in the air." A dry country piano makes "Become Someone Else's" lift high. Vocals from Melbourne singer Sophie Brous makes the chorus in "Erica America" soar. Strings pick up the title track and send it up to the sky without much effort or force.
In the latter, Lekman once again points the way to distill essential truths from every day life vignettes while singing about a sham marriage. "I thought of the Friday nights when I'd be cruising up and down the street with my best friend in her old crappy Holden, talking about getting married to get me into the country. The idea was so appealing, that we would build this constructed relationship around a purpose rather than some vague feeling that could change at anytime. But in the end, the sham marriage is much too great a story to be kept secret. At least when you make a living from telling stories."
And that's what I Know What Love Isn't... is. A collection of songs that grew to a story that had to be told. A story that is not new, but essentially human. The story of the grey areas of love that you have to excavate and explore, using the method of exclusion, to find out what love is.
May 30th, 2012
This summer, enjoy a solo performance by me in the medieval village of Castelbasso, Italy. Also playing is Thurston Moore! I like when I'm paired up with someone unexpected like that and the intersecting fanbase show up. The ones who take the gentle with the rough.
May 13th, 2012
I was going to the countryside two years ago when a french photographer named Julien Bourgeois contacted me about taking some photos for a book. Sure I said, come visit me in the countryside. So I showed him around, the rocky cliffs, the lush forests and the little cematary where my grandparents were buried. It ended up in a nice little book together with many other swedish musicians and their latitudes and longitudes.
May 12th, 2012
Honedrips Mikael sent me this song. He said I would love it and he knows me so well. The finest little ballad I've heard all year.
Rita ett svart x på min hand
For those of you who don't know swedish, listen to Mattias lovely english project Cats On Fire instead. There's no use in translating these lyrics, they would lose their particular swedish-finnish flavour.
May 11th, 2012
w/ Of Montreal & The Thermals
May 5th, 2012
The topic for the month of May is : Coffee
When people ask me about my production rate the last five years I sometimes say "Well you can't pour manure in an espresso machine and expect a cappucino to come out". By which I mean that some things you just go through, you don't write about them or make art out of them.
But then my friend informed me that the worlds finest and most expensive coffee is made out of the shit from a small civet. So that backfired on me.
But I've grinded these beans for you now and I finished the last mixes last night. I just have some mastering to do and some design to finish. Two-three different bands to rehearse with for the tours. Three videos to make. A million interviews to sit through. A few months to let the distributors and labels set up their plans. A summer of being worried about what you're going to think of the album. And then it will be out.
How do you take it? Milk? Sugar?
April 17th, 2012
Good morning students. This friday the 20th I will be DJ:ing with some friends at Marie Laveau in Stockholm. And then, next saturday the 28th I'll be doing the same thing at Klubb Heartland in Lund. Attendance is compulsory.
April 17th, 2012
I flew over the Andes once, on a South American tour three years ago. It was a big thing for me, I'd always wanted to see the Andes. Two weeks later I flew over the Norwegian mountains on my way home. I looked down and realized I'd travelled to the other side of the world for something that we already had around the corner.
Then last week I took the ferry over to Denmark, just a stone's throw away, to take some photos in Raabjerg Mile and around Rubjerg Knude Fyr. Sanddunes stretched out like a desert and an abandoned lighthouse was buried in the sand like some remnant of a passed civilisation. Google it. It looks like the end of the world.
I think I've talked about it before, but for travellers I really recommend reading "A Journey Around My Room" by Xavier de Maistre, in which the narrator who is sentenced to house arrest takes the opportunity to go on a voyage through his living room. It served as a parody of the grand travel narrative of the time and it still serves as a parody of our modern ideas of why we travel and how far we think we need to go.
He wrote a sequel to it as well. "A Nocturnal Expedition Around My Room" in which he repeats the journey. Same room, but this time at night.
April 15th, 2012
I pass by the water tower in Guldheden for a cup of coffee one sunday afternoon, a place I've recommended to a few people who've written me for advice on what to in Gothenburg. On the wall next to elevator I see this little lovely graffiti and take a photo. And then when I zoom in later, this!
Elle, if that is your name, you made my day today.
April 2nd, 2012
The topic for April comes in the form of an exclusion: No Love Stories
Write to me about whatever you want except love.
March 28th, 2012
I'm playing Knarrholmen this year. That is the only show I have planned this very moment, until the new album comes out.
Knarrholmen is exactly the kind of festival Gothenburg needs as a counterweight to the monsterfestival that Way Out West has become. Taking place during one weekend in the gap between spring and summer, a handful bands (just as many as you can cope with) play on two stages on an island in the beautiful Gothenburg archipelago. I was there last year to DJ, it was magic.
The best thing about Knarrholmen is that it has every opportunity to become a recurring and beloved festival, but it can not outgrow itself for one very obvious reason - it is on an island.
March 27th, 2012
I've given up some old out-of-print vinylsingles for an auction. It's for a little baby with a fragile heart.
March 27th, 2012
My dear friends in Air France have decided to give up. Contrary to what many think, giving up is often an admirable thing. It takes a lot of guts. And out of what once was, something new will grow. It makes me sad, but I know they will be back in one shape or another. Thank you for the good times.
March 19th, 2012
I forgot about the topic this month, I've been working like a dog, there's a final deadline and I'm so close to being done. The skin under my wrist watch is as bright as the sun it hasn't seen.
I was thinking the topic this month could've been the arms industry, in regards to the last entry. How it has grown to become a fixture in our economy, employing thousands, and how hard it is for it to readjust to producing new products since bombs and tanks are so specific in their construction. But also how a gradual reconstruction would definitely be possible and should be on the agenda. But it seemed too serious right now when I have little time to delve deeper into these things.
Then I thought about the movie I saw some time ago, which I really enjoyed. About the lovers who meet and spend a weekend together, and in two days sort out what takes most people their whole twenties and thirties and maybe their whole lives to figure out. The stubborn cynic versus the idealist romantic. I thought it seemed like something you would like to talk about, but then I worried too many of you would write.
No, maybe for the remaining days of march I'll just let the topic be whatever you want it to be. Why don't you just write me your usual stories about your loves and lives. I enjoy them. In a world of mouths I want to be an ear.
March 7th, 2012
Today I'm thinking about the Swedish arms export. I would like to think about something else but the other things I have to think about are so diffuse while the Swedish arms export is not diffuse at all. It's there and it's very real and it's the largest arms export in the world per capita.
It's in trouble
But it's been fine and growing for decades. And while the question
right now seems to be "Have they been lying to us?", the question
should maybe be "Why is the Swedish government defending our arms
export to a dictatorship?".
Alfred Nobel established the Nobel peace prize. He also invented dynamite. He said that his dynamite would lead to peace because when it's clear to man what forces lie within these explosives and what damage they could cause, people would refrain from using them. But yeah... it didn't really work out that way.
Swedes, sign here
February 20th, 2012
I'm DJ:ing with my friend Kristian at Clooney's this Thursday. It's the release party for the new issue of the architect magazine 4 Ark. More info here: http://0ark.se/blog/
February 18th, 2012
I wanted to take a ride in the somewhat new ferris wheel today. So I walked down to the harbour only to find it's been deconstructed and taken away. It's moved to the big amusement park in town. Well fair enough, I know how to wait.
All cities have a ferris wheel now. It's the cool kid's new jacket. They built a new one in Melbourne just when I had moved there, the Southern Star. But just as it was finished it was hit by a brutal heatwave, the same heatwave that eventually lead up to Black Saturday. 46 Celsius and the metal expanded and cracked until it was rendered useless. At least that's what they said at first, and it was a comic relief in a time of tragedy. Who doesn't love grand engineering malfunctioning due to local climate? The wheel just stood there by the waterfront, nonoperational and sad, until you started feeling sorry for it.
The Gothenburg ferris wheel is a modest wheel. Not even half as high as the London Eye. It's not the cool kid's jacket. It is the somewhat similar copy of the cool kid's jacket that your mum buys from a cheap mailorder company. Half a year too late, when it's not cool anymore. It is a jacket you hate until it starts falling apart and gets dirty, old and familiar. Like a streetdog hanging around your house until someone says "who's he?" and you say "he lives here".
February 4th, 2012
The topic for the month of february is : urban planning
January 25th, 2012
I figured out the laughing with the help of this guy. But feel free to send me your laughter anyway.
January 24th, 2012
I'm trying to record laughter but it's not going all too well. My friends find it hard to laugh under pressure. Is there anyone who has a nice heartfelt laugh that I could borrow? Needs to be female.
January 24th, 2012
Are you a band looking to record some songs? Try my friends at Studio Sonores. It's not the fanciest studio in the world, it's in an old bomb shelter, it's a bit cold in there and inconvenient to get to. But as opposed to most other studios they understand that music sometimes wants to sound warm, wobbly and fuzzy, like a seaotter sleeping in a toaster. If you know what I mean. I don't like studios in general or the people who work in them, that's why I love Studio Sonores.
January 23rd, 2012
That's the Melbourne skyline seen from Ruckers Hill, as I remember it. I used to go there every night, look at the city and think "This is where I live now."
But I don't live there anymore. Things got too complicated, I couldn't rent an apartment or a work space since I didn't have a proper visa. I couldn't get a job and I had the strangest insurance and healthcare arrangments. I was technically on a very very very long vacation.
Maybe it's because the sun goes down before I go up here. Maybe it's because I've listened to Who Are You from the Twerps album 50 times in a row today. But I miss Melbourne a lot right now. I miss my best friend D. I miss our plans to get married to get me into the country. I miss the excitement over the arrangment in itself, it is after all the only form of relationship that is truly open and honest about its intentions. I miss our talks, my cynicism vs. her optimism. I miss how she always won the argument.
But in the end, the sham marriage is a much too great story to be kept a secret. At least when you make a living from telling stories. I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut or not write a song about it.
It's not a huge problem, there are worse problems in the world. You make a decision and then you deal with it, that's what my old shrink used to say. But the dream planted a seed and the seed grew into a tree and I'm just not sure how to chop that thing down.
January 16th, 2012
January 12th, 2012
I'm reading a book. It's a book about the climate changes, it's thick and it covers a lot of evolutionary theory. It talks about spandrels, characteristics that are simply byproducts of another characteristic. It talks about the chin.
"The chin is where it is because it is the only bridge that can merge the human jawbone, whose function for the organism is obvious - to allow food intake. But the chin as such has never been subject to natural selection. It lacks adaptive origin."
I put the book back on the shelf. Anyone with a heart (and a chin) knows that the function of the chin is so much more than a bridge between our jawbones. It's there to be kept up when the times are hard. It's there to lean against a lovers shoulder, or rest against a clenched fist. It's there to measure the length of a tear, a finishing line if you will. How could these features not have affected natural selection?
January 4th, 2012
I'm waiting for the tram, the famous number seven, when the number one passes by. I look up and see an advertisement for Laleh. It's a concert. At Scandinavium. Laleh is playing at Scandinavium!
There used to be a song contest at our school in Hammarkullen, like a mini Eurovision. The kids got to write songs, have someone perform them, and then everyone got to vote. It was one of the highlights of the year. In year nine I remember watching the rehearsals with my heavy metal friends, snickering like Beavis and Butthead at all the cheesy lovesongs. Then a young girl from year seven stepped up and started singing and it was the most beautiful voice I've ever heard. It melted even the heaviest metal. We just sat there.
The summer after she called me, said her name was Laleh, said she got my number from Tommy who got it from Farzad who got it from someone. She had heard I played guitar and maybe I could help her form a band to play her songs? I gathered up a drummer and a saxophonist and got a rehearsal space. We played the local youth centers, it was a bit hit and miss. Laleh was great, but we weren't the right band for her. Too inexperienced, in music and in life.
Just before we fell out of touch I asked her to listen to one of my songs. She said she really liked it. I blushed. I'm not sure what happened after that, my diary pages from that time doesn't tell. But what they do tell is that I all of a sudden started writing songs like crazy. It was like the cambrian explosion. I was inspired.
I'm sure Laleh could sell out Scandinavium anytime, she's a star. But it just hasn't hit me until I saw this advertisement on the tram today. Scandinavium. That's huge! I work around the corner from there, in the shadow of that building, I'm gonna go and get a ticket on my lunchbreak.
January 3rd, 2012
On the topic of platonic love, which I think we should make the topic of this month:
"Armisen and Brownstein text each other every night before bed. Brownstein says of their friendship, "Sometimes I think it's the most successful love affair either of us will ever have." Both claim that it wouldn't work if they were romantically involved. "It would be colder, because we've both treated our romantic relationships in a cold way," Armisen says. "Carrie and I are more romantic than any other romantic relationship I've ever had - that sense of anticipation about seeing the other person, the secret bond. But things don't become obligatory. I'm not thinking, I'm doing this because you're my girlfriend; I'm just thinking, I love Carrie.""
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