Joining the Scandi-music royalty we meet fresh new talent Julia Vero, to talk female empowerment, revenge and relationship advice.
When you think contemporary Scandi-music royalty, you think Lykke Li’s darkness, Icona Pop’s energy, Elliphant’s ferocious unpredictability, MØ’s leftfield duality, Robyn’s uncompromising dance-pop, Tove Lo’s self-aware verse slinging, Little Dragon’s experimentalism and Röyksopp’s dreamy dance atmosphere – not to mention the exciting Smörgåsbord of rising talent including Frida Sundemo, SVE, First Aid Kit, Naomi Pilgrim, Ji Nilsson, Marlene and Robyn’s protégé Zhala.
Now add to that gang emerging Stockholm-based singer-songwriter Julia Vero, who first wet our musical appetites back in 2013 with the track “Hollow” and has now returned with her latest release ”How Does It Feel?”. Written by Vero in collaboration with Oskar Sikow and Stefan Storm, the tune plays with one half of your pure pop psyche and the other half of your inner most 80s rock chick (or dude).
We take a first look at the video for “How Does it Feel”, before chatting to the singer about writing music on night buses, revenge and why the Scandinavian soundscape can do no wrong.
Was it always your ambition to work in music and how did it all begin for you?
I have known that I wanted to be a recording artist since I was like, 8. When I turned 13 I got my first electric guitar, and one year after that I formed an all-girl rock band called The Federales. We were all beginners and played retro 70s rock. This was extremely rare in the small town we lived in and not many people approved of it, we were the only all-girl rock band at the time. When we turned 19 and we all graduated, the band split up and I fell into a depression.
So is that when Julia Vero ‘the solo artist’ was born?
When I started Julia Vero I had no idea which music I was going to make, or how. One night I sat down by a synthesizer for the first time in my life and wrote 4 songs in one hour. I recorded them, packed my bags and moved to Stockholm, away from my demons in my hometown, and that’s how it all started.
Describe your signature sound to someone who hasn’t heard you yet then?
It sounds as if Simple Minds, Roxette, Madonna and Siouxsie and the Banshees would hang out together and eventually get in a fight with their fists.
Interesting! So they’ve influenced you musically too I assume?
A lot of different musicians have, like David Holmes, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, U2, Joan Jett, All Saints and Suzanne Vega, to mention just a few.
On your Facebook page you also cite “Revenge” as an influence – should we be scared?
Ah, that’s still there!? I wrote it when I started the page because I was pissed of. But that’s actually what my project is about, the revenge on my hometown, the rise from all my meltdowns and mistakes, revenge of everyone that didn’t believe in me. It’s what drives me forward. I will never stop.
So let’s talk about the constant flow of recording talent that’s been coming out of Scandinavia in the last few years. Why do you think you’re all so good at writing pop songs and what is the music scene really like there?
Well we have a great history in music with ABBA, Roxette, Ace of Base etc. But the biggest reason I think is because we have always looked at the US and the UK for inspiration, because we lack personality and traditions as a country. So we want to do everything that the US and the UK does. Therefore we make hit songs.
You’ve mentioned Roxette a couple of times now – do you have at least one of their songs on your ipod?
Hehe! I actually don’t. But I did listen to them a lot when I was younger, their melodies and style speaks to me, especially their late 80s era.
And talking of the 80s, your latest release “How Does it Feel” is a bit of an 80s power-pop post break-up anthem – is there a personal story behind the lyrics?
When you listen to it of course you think of a break up, but I don’t see it like that. I think that I’m singing to myself, when your world is falling apart and you fucked it up big time for yourself and for others, and you blame yourself for it. I’ve had a bunch of nasty break ups and weird ‘almost-relationships’ behind me, but that’s a big inspiration too. However not for this song.
Do you think decent pop needs a little despair so we can dance away the heartache?
It doesn’t hurt to give a lyric some depth, but it’s not necessary, it depends on how you write the song, and how you perform it. On stage I always look as if I want to kill the audience, even if it´s a ‘happy’ lyric.
So what’s your best relationship advice?
Alone time. Have fun with your significant other. Listen.
And going back to the revenge thing, have you ever plotted revenge on someone?
Let’s talk about the Swedish love of melancholy then – do you write better songs in the Winter or the Summer?
People get soooo sad and cranky in the Winter here, but it doesn’t matter to me, I write my best songs on trips and at night, like on a night bus, love it!
You’re obviously one to watch – but of all the Scandi female artists out there now, how will you ensure you stand out from the crowd and make a strong melodic/vocal impact that connects with people?
My goal is that in the end, females will not HAVE to ‘stand’ out and fight over prestige. There are a lot of new young brilliant female musicians out there and that’s great. I will make my music and I will kill it live and that will work out for me in the end.
Icona Pop and Lykke Li have both gone on to collaborate with international artists – who would you like to work with given the opportunity?
Oh. A lot of people. David Holmes, Butch Vig, Bobby Gillespie, Karen O, Cat Power… there are so many.
Are you planning to perform in London soon and what can we expect from your live shows?
I would love to play in London. There is a great music scene and writers over there. So soon I hope. My live sets are a big deal to me. I’m backed up with drums, bass and guitar, just like my old band, (can’t do it without a band) and there is A LOT of energy and movement from my side. Every time I’ve performed live I get cramp in my body, because of how I move on stage!
And what about if Wonderland was coming to Stockholm for the weekend, where would you take us?
First I would take you to Snotty for beer, an old rock bar near where I live. Then we’ll go bar hopping around the town where the music is great and the people are fun. Hopefully we’ll watch a great live band as well.
Finally, where would you like to be in a year’s time?
I want to have released an album in a year, I want to do a lot more music videos and I want to play everywhere. Right now I am writing a lot of songs and preparing to release an EP before the Summer. Then I will just play till I drop dead!
“How Does It Feel?” released by RCA/Sony Music Entertainment AB is out now.
Words: Kate Lawson.