interview: fredrika stahl
Since I became lip website’s music sub-editor, the people around me have generally taken little notice of this position. Some blatantly self-promote and others, upon realising that I must have some kind of overarching interest in music, direct me to little gems that I may not have heard of otherwise.
One evening on facebook, an old friend from Ireland did just this. And that is how I came to hear Swedish-born, Paris-raised singer/songwriter Fredrika Stahl‘s delicate yet soulful voice.
Having released her third album, Sweep Me Away, digitally through Sony Music France in 2010 prior to its physical release, it is clear that she is a young woman dedicated to and working hard at her craft, whilst embracing the changing industry.
Lip was lucky enough to have a chat to Fredrika about her journey so far.
How and when did you start playing music?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. Music has always been a big part of my life. I started to take piano lessons when I was around 10. After I finished school, I took some time to explore music for real; I moved back to Paris (where I had lived when I was younger) and started to look around for different collaborations. In the pub where I was working, I met a hip-hop producer and we very soon started to work on different projects together. Two years later when I had composed enough material for my first record, I met Tom McClung, a jazz pianist who worked with us on the album as an arranger. We started to contact records companies and in 2006, when I was 21, I released my first record, A Fraction of You. Around that same time I started touring, mostly in jazz clubs and at jazz festivals.
How has your songwriting process changed as you and your music have evolved?
At first, I composed with only a guitar or a piano. Always starting with the lyrics first…for me it has always been the hardest part. I played the song to my musicians and together we would work on an arrangement. The result was quite jazzy tunes with poppy melodies. For this last record the procedure was different. I decided to work in a much more isolated way than before. I went to Sweden for a year and working on my own brought out my pop roots. It’s nothing I had in mind while working, it just happened naturally. I still have a lot of jazz soul influences in the music though, even if it’s less pronounced than on my two first records.
Who were your early influences? What was the first record you bought?
When I was a kid I was into pop folk music mostly from the 60′s/70′s like The Beatles, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell. But I was 10 years old when I got my own cd-player and bought my first record… I have to admit it was an Ace of Base album. I’m Swedish, it was a must back then!
What are your other interests/passions?
Lots of things! I was a computer game geek but I had to quit for the sake of my career. Otherwise I love cooking but now I sound boring! I’m a complete cheese addict… I used to dance a lot also, I actually wanted to be a dancer when I was younger. After I quit, I had a hard time watching ballets and other dance shows, but I’m think I’m ready to go back to it on an amateur level now, I’ve missed it a lot.
How do you think that the use of digital media has changed the music industry?
It has changed everything. Some parts are good and others not. The sad part is the record sales. With the illegal downloading and the streaming people have less reasons to by the actual record. After all it costs a lot of money to produce a record, and if there is no money coming in after it can kill the project. That means that producers and record companies are taking less risks and therefore aim less on new talents and put more on the safe bets like the already known artists. But luckily there is a good side too, with the internet and all the networks like facebook, myspace, twitter or youtube, artists, even the most unknown ones, can communicate and share their music with the whole world and create an interest without going through or being dependent
on a major company. It’s also good for the critics. Before, the media’s opinion was the only one that counted, but today every single net surfer can make his or her voice heard.
Why did you decide to release Sweep Me Away digitally before its physical release?
We knew we would probably lose some physical record sales on that but we thought the most important was that people knew that this record existed. Having it available on the internet for a while beforehand can create some buzz and if people like it they share it with their network and spread the information. There is no use releasing a record if no one knows about it…
What do you most want to communicate through your music?
It’s all about emotions. We are all in the need to feel and when we do, most of us want to share it. Music is about that. I’ve always been a very sensitive person, which earlier was something very negative to me. But today I feel I can use that for something good. I can channel it into songs and most important of all, share it with the audience. That’s why the live part is the most important one to me. When I’m on stage in front of an audience there is a direct connection and exchange.
What’s next for you? Where would you ideally like your career to take you?
Right now I’m touring a lot, but mostly in Europe and Japan, I would love to take my music further…to the States, more of southern Europe, Australia. And of course I still have a lot to learn musically, I’m exploring and meeting new inspiring people all the time. I think the most important is to always be curious and open minded. Another thing that I would love to do is to work on others project than my own. When you write an album, do the promotion for it and tour with it you end up talking a lot about yourself…and it can become suffocating after a while. Writing for someone else or for something else (like a movie for example) is like a gasp of fresh air to me, so I would love to do more of that while still working on my personal project.
What does feminism mean to you? Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Yes I do, for me feminism is the fight against the inequality between women and men. There’s been a lot of progress, especially in Scandinavian countries which have come far, but there are other places where nothing is changing and where women really need support. Feminist organizations (among others) could be a lot of help to them.
Is there anything you’ve always wanted to be asked?
To write the soundtrack for a movie…you said anything!
To hear Fredrika’s music, be sure to visit her website here!