Listen to the up-and-coming artist's enchanting new single "Gold."
Listen to the up-and-coming artist's enchanting new single "Gold."
Text: Jake Viswanath
Listening to music can make you feel like you’re entering another dimension of space and time, and in the case of rising musician Frida Sundemo, that’s exactly her goal. The Stockholm-based artist takes cues from classic score composers like Hans Zimmer and the sleek electronic pop emerging from her home country of Sweden, as well as the complex world of astronomy, to create a beautiful and distinctive brand of intelligent pop, soon to be heard on her debut album Flashbacks and Futures, due out on October 6.
Today, she adds new single “Gold” to her repertoire, a cinematic piece of swirling synths, anthemic drums, and dramatic strings that swell to a gorgeous key change, premiering exclusively on V. Somehow, she manages to make such intimate and fragile lyrics sound grand and majestic on "Gold," an impressive feat that makes for a chilling yet soothing listen. Below, Sundemo answers some questions about her intricate music, her fascination with space, and how random events, like her role in the film Kill Your Friends alongside James Corden, changed her career for the better.
How did you get your start in music? What made you want to pursue music as a career?
I’ve been into music as long as I can remember. I played the French horn and the piano when I was a kid and I started writing instrumental pieces early on. When I was about 20 years old, I got myself my own home studio and I started to produce and write songs every free minute of the day. I started to study medicine pretty much at the same time so it was a weird and quite interesting mix of hanging out in an emergency room and in my studio. A few years later I decided to take a break from the studies to move to Stockholm and to focus on my music career wholeheartedly. I’ve stayed there since.
What inspires your distinctive sound? How would you describe it to new listeners?
I usually describe my music as cinematic electronic pop music. I get a lot of inspiration from the biggest film composers, like Zimmer, Williams and Newman. I love the mix of melancholic strings, heavy drums and analog synths.
Did your home country of Sweden inspire your music in any way, especially considering its reputation with pop music?
I think it has really helped me with believing in myself as an artist, producer and songwriter. There are so many people to look up to here and to get inspired by, and luckily more and more women in every corner of the music industry.
What is it about space and astronomy that inspires you? How did you become so fascinated by it?
I remember one night when I was about 12 years old and just about to fall asleep under the bare sky. I looked up at the millions of stars and suddenly it struck me that I was laying there with pretty much nothing between me and those beautiful stars. I was in the middle of space! Ever since then I’ve been fascinated by it. I studied astronomy as an elective course in high school when my classmates chose photography or cinematology. Space inspires my creative process in two ways. First of all it’s amazingly beautiful, and when I’m watching video clips from space, I want to make a soundtrack to it right away. Secondly, I love the timeless sense to it. It’s obviously changing constantly — stars die, others are born and the universe is expanding. But still, I imagine being in outer space and feeling like time stood still. And relatively speaking, it hasn’t passed much time in space during a human’s lifetime. Thinking of that, I feel more free when writing music.
What is your creative process?
It usually starts with looping an ambient sound on a synth, to build up an inspiring atmosphere. Then I start playing around with chords and melodies. Lyrics usually come last but sometimes it’s the first thing I do. Other times I start out with making a beat. It depends on my mood really, I need variation. When I’ve tried one way too many days in a row I need another take on it to not fall into old patterns over and over again. And when nothing works, I always go back to the basics, just me and the piano or the guitar. I write and produce everything together with my long-time companion, Joel Humlén. He’s a genius. Most of the times, one of us starts writing something alone and then we finish it together. Also, we quite often watch inspiring muted video clips on Youtube when writing.
What is the inspiration behind “Gold”?
It’s about adventures and risking things in life, throwing yourself out there and embracing an unknown future with the hopes for something better.
How did “Gold” come to life in the studio?
I remember us watching the trailer for Where The Wild Things Are on repeat when writing it. It goes really well together. Everything happened so fast and I can’t remember any certain troubles on the way. We wanted to make the production epic and cinematic but still keep the voice close and small. We brought our favorite violin player in the world, Sara Övinge, into the studio to put her magic touch on it too.
What was your role in the movie Kill Your Friends and how did that part come about? Did you learn anything from your costars or the experience?
I played Marcy, the singer in a Swedish indie band who actually were performing my original songs in the film. At first, they asked for my music only and the next day they wanted me to audition for the role. I’d never done anything like that before and because of that, I felt like I had to try and get the role. Luckily, [the role] was pretty much just me being myself and I didn’t have that many lines, so I got it. It was such an adventure and I loved every second of those weeks in London shooting the film. My costars taught me to have fun and play around. I was so impressed by their acting skills.
I read that you can solve a Rubik's Cube in less than a minute. How did you learn?
I’d recommend everyone to try it. I learned by studying schedules of algorithms on the Internet. There are also lots of instruction clips on Youtube. Last year I solved it in 42 seconds and that’s my record. But today I’d probably need a minute or more. There are so many algorithms to remember and if you don’t maintain the practice, you easily forget.
Who are your dream collaborators?
A duet with Tom Waits, or writing a film soundtrack with Hans Zimmer.
What is your mission statement as an artist?
I want to intensify people’s memories by being the soundtrack to important moments in their lives. And if I can, I want to give people hope when they need it, or just something nice to listen to on a bad day.