THE SWEDISH THING: LYKKE LI

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

CLICK THROUGH THE SLIDESHOW TO HEAR TWO BRAND NEW SONGS FROM LYKKE LI, “NO REST FOR THE WICKED,” AND “DU ÄR DEN ENDE,” FROM THE UPCOMING SWEDISH FILM, TOMMY

Since releasing her debut album, Youth Novels, in 2008, Swedish-born artist Lykke Li has transformed from a cooing indie chanteuse into something much, much wilder—a pop artist unafraid of embracing her dark side. After touring for the better part of two years on the back of her excellent sophomore album, 2011’s Wounded Rhymes, the singer found herself not only exhausted and without a permanent home but also newly single—a tumultuous, emotionally devastating combination that turned into something of a creative wellspring.

“People always tell you about the ‘Saturn return’ thing that is supposed to happen to you in your late 20s,” says Li. “I feel like I really experienced that. I started to wonder if maybe I was too sensitive for this lifestyle. I kind of realized that I am actually kind of an introvert, which makes it so weird that I’ve somehow chosen this path. The older I become the less interested I am in being in the spotlight or becoming the next big thing. I just make music now because I feel like I have to…and in the end, it’s been so wonderful to write about these things.”

On her hotly anticipated new album (slated for release this spring), Li mostly does away with the trappings of pop and goes directly for the jugular, via a series of epic windswept ballads. Her voice, which sounded timid on early releases, has grown into something akin to an intimate roar, and while the emotional landscape of her music has always been both unpredictable and decidedly dramatic, her new music is the most visceral—and achingly beautiful—she has ever made. “I feel like all this touring—plus suffering a lot in love, basically learning every possible angle of heartbreak—really changed me,” says Li. “I really figured out how to best use my voice. Everything went into this record—everything I have and everything I am. When people ask I just tell them it’s a real power-ballad record about some real grown-up shit.”

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