PHOTOGRAPHY KACPER KASPRZYK
FASHION NAOMI ITKES
TEXT T. COLE RACHEL
SWEDEN IS ONE OF THE TOP EXPORTERS OF MUSIC IN THE WORLD—NO SMALL FEAT FOR A COUNTRY WHOSE POPULATION IS ABOUT THE SIZE OF NEW YORK CITY’S. BEHOLD, FOUR OF THEIR FINEST, FEATURED IN V88
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When Neneh Cherry released her debut album, Raw Like Sushi, in 1989, she was something of an anomaly in the music world—a Swedish-born singer-songwriter and rapper who melded dance music with hip-hop, all the while donning trailblazing looks inspired by hanging out in London nightclubs. The whole package was something of a revelation, before genre-bending and outré street style had become de rigueur in pop music. But for Cherry, it was a natural progression that stemmed from a culturally rich upbringing by her mother, Swedish artist Moki Cherry, and stepfather, the American jazz master Don Cherry, in both Stockholm and New York City.
“We lived in Long Island City back in the ’70s,” recalls Cherry. “There was nothing there back then, but now it’s so different. It’s kind of weird, but I always absorb changes but look for the things that I know. I took the L train today and there was a guy sitting next to me listening to some wicked salsa music. No matter how long I’m away, there are always things here that feel instantly familiar.”
Last month Cherry released Blank Project, her sixth album and first official solo record in nearly 17 years. Recorded in upstate New York, with London-based electronic artists RocketNumberNine, and produced by Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet), Blank Project is the rawest record that Cherry has ever made—a brooding, thumping blast of soulful electronica that showcases the singer’s seemingly ageless voice. It also includes a duet with fellow Swedish songstress Robyn. “We made the record in five days,” says Cherry. “It felt really beautiful, like a kind of surrender—like just putting your hands up and saying, I’m gonna let this happen. Out of all the things that I’ve done, this feels the best. A lot of things I’ve been involved with over the years have happened in a really haphazard kind of way, because of where I was and who was around, but this time I feel really proud of it. It feels really good.”