Jens granted an exclusive interview about the EP to none other than the Walla Walla Washington Union Bulletin. The Discussion covers many topics including recent travels, the new music, and “making a feather out of a bird.” Jens calls the EP “a little taste of what’s not to come.” For further illumination on that sentiment and others, click through for the full text as well as tracklist and US tour dates.
HEADLINE: Jens Lekman: A Taste Of What’s Not To Come
BY: Andrew Hall for the Union Bulletin in Walla Walla, Washington
For the last four years, Jens Lekman has, to quote one of his own songs, seemed oh so silent. Since his last album saw release in 2007, he’s released only a handful of recordings and left only hints of his whereabouts along the way. However, Lekman is ready to share his work with the world again. He spoke to us about his forthcoming EP – on which he argues with himself across the streets of Melbourne, Australia, tries to meet Kirsten Dunst, finds lyricism in Google Maps, and explores how his hometown of Gothenburg has changed since he left – but also his plans for the future and why he can never truly quit music.
Andrew Hall, for the U-B: You’ve been traveling quite a bit recently, where are you now?
Jens Lekman: I just moved into this new workspace. I’ve never had a studio or a workspace before. I’ve always worked from my bedroom, but now I have this bright room next to a big church and the sun is starting to go down, so it’s got this golden light outside and it’s just absolutely beautiful.
UB: Are you living in Gothenburg?
JL: I don’t know where I live right now, but I had to return to finish up a few things over here.
UB: You haven’t released a record in four years. What have you been up to since then?
JL: To put it chronologically, I toured for a year, which was a really bad idea, and everything got really confused and weird. Then I moved to Melbourne, where I lived for two years, and hung around and worked on music and made a living from DJing and small jobs here and there.
UB: You have a new EP coming out on September 19th. What’s it called?
JL: The title of the EP is An Argument With Myself – EP. I think it’s going to be called An Argument With Myself EP, it sounds good to my ears.
UB: How did you choose the songs for this EP?
JL: I was working on an album. I wasn’t really planning to put out an EP, but I came across this dilemma. I really loved these songs, and I thought they were great, but they just didn’t seem to fit the mood of the record. And they seemed to be the songs that people enjoyed the most when I played them live, so I decided that they belonged together on an EP, sort of like a little taste of what’s not to come.
UB: Can you tell me a little bit about the title track, “An Argument With Myself?”
JL: I was walking home through the central business district of Melbourne one night and had this voice in my head saying “why did you move to Melbourne, Jens?” I moved to Melbourne because I was in a long distance relationship. It didn’t work out and it felt like a situation I had been in a few too many times, traveling overseas for someone you don’t really know much about. It’s easy to fall in love with someone’s shadow, you know, when you get to make up who that person is.
UB: Several new songs, such as “Waiting For Kirsten” and “A Promise,” touch on the political situation in Sweden quite a bit, which you haven’t really written about before.
JL: It seemed like it was impossible not to write about it. I didn’t really set out to, but it just seemed like whatever I was writing about made it into the song. “Waiting for Kirsten” was initially just about waiting for Kirsten, but I guess it created a portal to something. Everything seemed to be linked to what was going on in Sweden at the moment. It was kind of shocking, the last election, I think, when the nationalist party got in, but I’ve been mostly worried about the center-rights coalition that we’ve had in the government since 2006. They’ve been hitting really hard against the unemployed and the ill, and I’ve seen a lot of friends be affected by that, for example my friend who I wrote about in “A Promise.”
UB: Can you tell me a little about “New Directions?”
JL: It just started as map directions, a friend and me were going south and I looked up directions on Google or something. The directions seemed to have a flow and I was singing them in the car: “Take a right at the roundabout, another right and you’re round and out.” I guess it’s also a song about feeling homeless and longing to feel an attachment to a place or a person. At that time I couldn’t wait to get out of Kortedala, I thought that would solve all my problems. But after leaving I felt more like Kortedala is not a place you live in but a place that lives in you.
UB: You’ve become well-known for playing houses and backyards over the last several years.
JL: I was living in Melbourne, and I didn’t have a work visa, so I wasn’t allowed to play in venues. They’re very specific about this, you can get kicked out or the venue can get in trouble, so I started doing this thing where I told people, “If you want to book me for your backyard, just pay for my tickets and we’ll invite a few people from my mailing list.” And it was such a brilliant idea because you can tell a crowd is so much happier when they don’t have to stand in line and be treated like crap by the door guy and the bartender and I don’t have to be treated like crap by the promoter and the sound guy.
UB: Are you playing any shows for this new EP?
JL: I think we’re planning something. A few dates in the US, some in Europe as well.
UB: Are you taking a band with you?
JL: I’m thinking duo shows. I did two shows in New York in December that were just me and a drummer, so I think that’s what I’m going to do, just to keep it simple.
UB: You said earlier this year that your goal was to have an album and an EP out this year. How far along is that album?
JL: It’s a little bit hard to tell. I think I have all the songs ready, but they haven’t been working. It seems like they want a more organic and soulful treatment. I’ve spent almost two years recording and perfecting the arrangements and now I feel like they don’t sound exactly like I want them to, so I’m probably going to go into the studio with a producer and rerecord them. When I started making this record I was hoping to do something light. I didn’t want to write about broken hearts, I didn’t want to write about heavy stuff. Do you know that expression, to make a bird out of a feather?
UB: I’ve never heard that before.
JL: I wonder if that’s a Swedish expression. It’s when you try to make something bigger out of something that’s not very big at all. I felt like I was doing the opposite. I knew that there were all these heavy things that I needed to write about, but I just wanted to write about nothing. So I was making a feather out of a bird – a very stubborn and sad little bird.
UB: You’ve quit music several times over the course of your career. Have you figured out what it is that keeps bringing you back?
JL: No, but I know now that what I called “quitting music” before is simply a natural way of dealing with the emotional overload of going through the release of a record and spending your life traveling around playing the songs from it. I quit music all the time, I say “never again” and slam the door in its face. Then I always come crawling back, shameful, asking it to give me another chance.
1. An Argument with Myself
2. Waiting for Kirsten
3. A Promise
4. New Directions
5. So This Guy at My Office
US Tour Dates:
Wed/Sep-28 Los Angeles, CA – Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Thu/Sep-29 San Francisco – California Academy of Sciences
Sat/Oct-01 Seattle – Columbia City Theater
Mon/Oct-03 Chicago – Lincoln Hall
Wed/Oct-05 Washington, DC – 6th & I Historic Synagogue
Thu/Oct-06 Philadelphia – Philadelphia Ethical Society
Fri/Oct-07 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
Sat/Oct-08 Boston Somerville Armory
Sun/Oct-09 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg