(Sweden) SoLBLoMMa– Charles de Gaulle (The Terminal Mix)
Stockholm’s Queen of Quirkiness returns with a re-mix of a track released earlier in the year – ‘Charles de Gaulle’. But this isn’t any old remix. It marks the return after 20 years no less of legendary Swedish producer Johan Vävare, known as the Brian Eno of his country, who apparently now resides in Vietnam and whose production skills have not been heard on any Swedish release since the late 1990s.
In the 80s and 90s Vävare established himself as one of Sweden’s leading music talents, with soundscapes and ideas that were integral parts of classic recordings with a host of Swedish stars too long to mention but which did include the Bowie-a-like Thomas di Leva, who is himself undergoing a renaissance at the moment.
I lost count of the instruments and paraphernalia Vävare’s added here – everything from a harpsichord to an alarm clock – but nothing overshadows the almost plaintive piano riff, which he left untouched. The line “Attention please, will all passengers travelling with SoLBLoMMato Planet Earth please report to the information desk” is pure genius.
Vävare said, “One day I happened to find SoLBLoMMa online – an irresistible blend of Goldfrapp, Pippi Longstocking and Albert Einstein. I just had to make contact with her! I mean, how many other artists create IQ-tests in their spare time? I really love this song… Emptiness. Time that stands still. A crazy, lonely lady walking around the terminal talking to herself” … “The airplane will come and get me”. Her dreams of flying away… elsewhere… sometime… maybe…”
It speaks volumes about SoLBLoMMa’s idiosyncratic appeal that Vävare was tempted out of retirement to do this re-mix. She’s an acquired taste but more than ever we need these people operating at the margins of society to help keep us sane.
‘Charles de Gaulle (The Terminal Mix by Johan Vävare)’ was released as a single on September 14th and is featured on the EP ‘Come and Have a Coffee with Me at Charles de Gaulle’ (released September 28th).
That EP also features a remix by EvOLu who works with members of Depeche Mode and Peaches and contains the original single mix and two new remixes by Solblomma herself.
Efter att det engelska livsstilsmagasinet PHOENIX Magazine hyllat hennes senaste poppärla Charles de Gaulle som ”ett mästerverk från ett alternativt universum” släpper idag SoLBLoMMa – Sveriges kanske mest egensinniga artist – sin med stort intresse emotsedda nya singel Charles de Gaulle (The Terminal Mix by Johan Vävare). Singeln bjuder på det första svenska livstecknet på närmare tjugo år (!) från den legendariske och mytomspunne producenten och musikern Johan Vävare. Sedan flera år tillbaka bor Vävare i nordöstra Thailand och SoLBLoMMas singel är första gången sedan det förra milleniet som hans unika sound och fantasirika produktionsteknik hörs i Sverige.
– En dag bara hittade henne på nätet – en oemotståndlig blandning av Goldfrapp, Pippi Långstrump och Albert Einstein, konstaterar Johan Vävare. Jag var ju bara tvungen att ta kontakt! Jag menar hur många artister bygger IQ-tester som hobby?
Om sitt studioarbete med The Terminal Mix berättar Vävare:
– Jag ville ta fram bagladyn i låten. Tomheten. Tiden som står still. Den tokiga, ensamma damen som går runt i terminalen och pratar för sig själv…”the aeroplane will come and get me”. Hennes drömmar om att få flyga iväg någon annanstans… någon gång… kanske…
Den svenska synthpionjären Johan Vävare etablerade sig på 80- och 90-talet som något av “en svensk Brian Eno” och hans innovativa produktionsbidrag till klassiska inspelningar med bl.a Ratata och Mauro Scocco, Reeperbahn och Olle Ljungström, Thomas Di Leva, Lädernunnan / The Leather Nun, Lustans Lakejer, Lars Demian (Demian D), Stonefunkers, Eggstone, Tom Wolger’s Mockba Music, Caroline af Ugglas, Fréda, Ubangi med Orup and Cia Berg, Martin Rössell, Lars Cleveman och Kitchen & The Plastic Spoon, samt även Bo Kaspers Orkester, Traste Lindéns Kvintett och Marie Bergman, har placerat honom i en helt egen kategori på den svenska musikscenen.
Samarbetet med SoLBLoMMa har för övrigt nu även resulterat i att den svenska artisten medverkar som sångerska i Vävares asiatiska produktioner.
Det engelska livsstilsmagasinet Phoenix hyllade i våras poppärlan Charles de Gaulle som såväl innerligt gripande som surrealistisk och drömsk – ”a four-minute masterpiece from an alternative universe.” SoLBLoMMa har tidigare i år uppmärksammats även av andra engelska musikbloggar (toomanyblogs, Gig Soup etc) och i maj presenterade den stora engelska bloggen God Is In The TV som ”a unique performer with a unique vocal”.
Charles de Gaulle (The Terminal Mix by Johan Vävare) släpps idag worldwide på samtliga stora digitala plattformar (Spotify, Tidal, iTunes, Apple Music,Google Play etc).
”A four-minute masterpiece from an alternative universe”
PHOENIX Magazine (UK)
”A unique performer with a unique vocal”
God Is In The TV (UK)
”Sveriges charmigaste artist”
SoLBLoMMa Charles de Gaulle (The Terminal Mix by Johan Vävare) ISRC: SE3DA1801701 Skivbolag: COMEDIA Distribution: Phonofile / The Orchard Releasedatum: 14 september
“My old friend Neil Mason is a man who knows about music, he founded and edits the excellent Electronic Sound Magazine and has written for NME, Melody Maker and many others. When Neil raves about a new act, I always pay attention and am always rewarded. SoLBLoMMa (Swedish, by total coincidence) is a case in point. Like an immortal Instagram Pippi Långstrump, SoLBLoMMa has been sitting alone in Charles de Gaulle for a hundred years, just waiting for you to join her for coffee and fika, and she is so terribly lonely. ‘Charles de Gaulle’ is surreal and dream-like, but poignant and heartfelt at the same time. A four-minute masterpiece from an alternative universe.“
Charles de Gaulle is the first international single in a year from Swedish pop princess SoLBLoMMa (a “one of a kind artist”, if there ever was one!) and follows last year´s single Still Happy, that spread her name to English bloggers (toomanyblogs, Gigsoup, God Is In The TV a.o.). The track will next month be released in a handful of exclusive remixes – for instance one by the Swedish music maverick Johan Vävare who moved to Thailand more than 20 years ago, and hasn’t been heard of since. A music video accompanying the single will soon be released.
SoLBLoMMa is colourful with an exceptional personal expression. Quirky, original and totally alone in her uniqueness in Sweden. The English music journalist Neil Mason (former NME) has described her like this in the Electronic Magazine: “Think Depeche Mode booted out the back of a transit on a cold, dark winter’s night, think Lykke Li taken by the darkside, think Kylie with Winehouse’s problems, think Emilliana Torrini on 45, Bjork dating Goldie… oh, hang on… well, then we begin to see something remotely resembling Solblomma. With eyes you could stand teacups on, she’s got something of the Cheryl Cole about her… only with a Katie Price makeover… at night… with doll’s clothes. Sounds original, check, looks original, check. You could file comfortably under the current 80s electro revival and no one would bat an eyelid.”
Off all the fascinating artists I met at Gefle Gas, the festival I reviewed a few weeks back, SoLBloMMa (her stylisation) (or ‘Sunflower’ in English, it’s her name) stuck in my mind at least partly because she’s unique, a free artistic spirit. So I’ve researched her and have been on the lookout for anything new from her. While she has some ‘elements’ of other performers in her persona I have never seen or heard anyone else with whom she can directly be compared. She’s about as far removed from generic pop as you can get, and I’m all for it.
She’s multi-skilled, making her own videos to promote her electronic alt-pop work (many of them involve the ‘faceover’ you see here). Having once been signed to EMI she now runs her own label (Blomkraft) and even multi-tasks as a puppet master and as a clown (not a creepy one I might add, more as a genuine children’s entertainer). She designs online IQ games and she even rivals Pete Waterman as a railway geek; you can’t get quirkier than that.
Vocally, while I again stress her uniqueness, you can identify at least bits of Cyndi Lauper, Clare Grogan (Altered Images), and Polly Scattergood in her voice, while visually she often has the look of (a much gentler) Alex from A Clockwork Orange. She’s a self-creation of contradictions.
While I’m uneasy about using other peoples’ reviews, this truncated analysis from Electronic Magazine is priceless:
“Think Depeche Mode booted out the back of a Transit van on a cold, dark winter’s night, think Lykke Li taken by the dark side, think Kylie with Winehouse’s problems, think Björk dating Goldie… then we begin to see something remotely resembling Solblomma. With eyes you could stand teacups on, she’s got something of the Cheryl Cole about her… only with a Katie Price makeover… at night… with doll’s clothes.
I rest my case.
The video here for She Said Nothing was inspired by a recent business trip to the western USA which took in Las Vegas, the sort of place she’d be very much at home in, as a philosophy graduate, with its sharp contrasts between rich and poor, big business and ‘the ordinary people’, professional entertainers and street bums, cops and bad guys (think the original CSI) and, ultimately, winners and losers.
While the song is set in a wintry Amsterdam, it could equally play out in loser’s Sin City as her departing lover struggles to find the words to explain how he’s lost his love for her. (Probably at the tables, along with his credit). As Win Butler sings, when love is gone, where does it go?
The only problem I have is the lyrics, or at least some of them. It has some great lines, such as “you and me in the land of Shakespeare, breathing love in my ear; our trip, my dear, has just begun” and “I’ve lost my love, he said/hmmm, she said nothing/a bottle of stone crashed her heart”. But other stanzas leave me floundering. Most of the Scandinavian/Nordic world speaks better English than we does but whether it’s Iceland, Norway or Sweden I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said in these pages that something doesn’t make sense; that the meaning has been ‘lost in translation’. Perhaps it’s time for someone to devise a Scandinavian-English songbook dictionary.
Solblomma Hedin has taken on several different personas over the years. She’s busked her way around Europe, dabbled in Death Metal with one of many bands, The Strawberry Army, had chart success with the songs Girl at the Station and Sandman, worked with leading jazz pianists and saxophonists, scored a Portuguese TV series, and her first album (1997) was described as ‘epic experimental trip hop”, in which she portrayed a dozen different characters herself, prompting one critic to liken her to a stoned Björk. Oh, and she’s also adept at writing and adapting traditional Swedish folk songs.
Until a few years ago she wrote and performed as ‘KiN’ (‘Sun’ in the Mayan language), releasing two albums and four singles with a similar style but latterly as Solblomma she’s been going in two directions, one of them even more deeply into a sort of fantasy world with her current band The Sheep Army (which I’m not completely convinced by, as I said in the festival review). The other direction, under new management guidance with Comedia, is deeper into the electronic world where there are more possibilities for someone of her creative mindset, as this song and video suggest, and which at least falls within a ‘traditional’ framework.
It’s a necessary move in my opinion. The Nordic countries in general and Sweden, in particular, are home to The Law of Jante, which is too complex to go into detail about here, but which effectively describes a condescending attitude towards individuality and success; a mentality that de-emphasises individual effort and places all weight on the collective, while discouraging those who stand out as achievers. If you watch ‘The Bridge’ you can see it in the character of Saga Norén.
For that reason alone perhaps the time is right for Solblomma to seek her fortune elsewhere, where such laws have no reach. Not so much Leaving Las Vegas as arriving there.
On April 22, 2017, SoLBLoMMa performed at the new INDIE SWEDEN MUSIC FESTIVAL & CONFERENCE – GEFLE GAS – in Gävle Sweden.
“SoLBLoMMa – her name means sunflower – makes me tear my hair out. Not because she isn’t talented – she oozes it – but because of a superfluous stage act. Think Clare Grogan (Altered Images) meets Shirley Temple meets Vanessa Paradis on a personal level, while the band is more Black Lace singing Agadoo or The Tweets performing Birdie Song.”
“SoLBLoMMa, born in Gävle, is full of energy, her quirky, theatrical techno-pop songs are good and her band is pretty good too, especially the bassist. But for some mystifying reason, that band (the Sheep Army) dress up in chicken heads and wear tights to look like chicken legs. To top it off there is an asexual mannequin called Miriam placed stage left, which is dressed and undressed throughout the show, presumably according to the whims of the song being performed. SoLBLoMMa, Miriam and the Sheep Army”
COMEDIA presents: After last year’s releases of both a new album and the retrospective collection “Zombic Bombs & Dr. Pouts” on her own label Blomkraft, SoLBLoMMa takes on to the future with new partners. At the beginning of the year she was contracted by COMEDIA, today she releases the single “Still happy” where SoLBLoMMa – who recently returned home from a business trip to Los Angeles – presents itself with new exciting sounds and a partially new electronic sound.
SoLBLoMMa is unique and colorful with an exceptional personal expression. Quirky, original and totally alone in its uniqueness in Music Sweden. The English music journalist Neil Mason (former NME) has described her like this in the Electronic Magazine.
“Think Depeche Mode booted out the back of a transit on a cold, dark winter’s night, think Lykke Li taken by the darkside, think Kylie with Winehouse’s problems, think Emilliana Torrini on 45, Bjork dating Goldie… oh, hang on… well, then we begin to see something remotely resembling Solblomma. With eyes you could stand teacups on, she’s got something of the Cheryl Cole about her… only with a Katie Price makeover… at night… with doll’s clothes. Sounds original, check, looks original, check. You could file comfortably under the current 80s electro revival and no one would bat an eyelid.”
Still Happy is produced by Håkan Folkesson and shortly this single release is followed up with an EP containing remixes by Eddie Cabrera, Carl-Q modulator and Berlin-based Evolu.
SoLBLoMMa is Still Happy – now begins the next chapter!
COMEDIA presenterar: Efter att förra året ha släppt såväl ett nytt album som den retrospektiva samlingen Zombic Bombs & Dr. Pouts på egna etiketten Blomkraft tar SoLBLoMMa i vår sikte på framtiden med nya samarbetspartners. I början av året kontrakterades hon av COMEDIA, som idag släpper singeln Still Happy där SoLBLoMMa – som nyligen återvände hem från en arbetsresa till Los Angeles – presenterar sig med nya spännande klanger och ett delvis helt nytt elektroniskt sound.
SoLBLoMMa är en unikt färgstark fågel med ett exceptionellt personligt uttryck. Udda, originell och helt ensam om sin särart i Musiksverige. Den engelska musikjournalisten Neil Mason (tidigare New Musical Express) har beskrivit henne så här i Electronic Magazine.
”Föreställ dig att Depeche Mode blir utsparkade ur turnébussen en kall, mörk vinternatt, samtidigt som Lykke Li blir tagen av den mörka sidan. Tänk dig Kylie med Winehouse-problem, Emiliana Torrini spelad på 45 varv och Kate Bush uppträdandes påtänd under Björks dejt med Goldie…Ja – då får vi något som kan liknas vid Solblomma. Med ögon man kan ställa tekoppar på finns det något av Cheryl Cole över henne … men med en nattlig Katie Price-makeover … med dockkläder. Det låter originellt. Check. Det ser originellt ut. Check. Man skulle med lätthet kunna ordna in musiken under den rådande trenden av 80-talsinfluerad elektronica med postpunksinslag och ingen skulle höja på ögonbrynen.”
Still Happy är producerad av Håkan Folkesson och inom kort följs det här singelsläppet upp med en EP innehållande remixer av bl.a Eddie Cabrera, Carl-q-Lator och Berlin-baserad EvOLu.
SoLBLoMMa är Still Happy – nu börjar nästa kapitel!