Lykke Li Little Bit EP

Lykke Li Little Bit EP
The last year has seen Lykke Li’s stock rise from anonymity to blog darling, and with her forthcoming debut album, Youth Novels, possibly even find Peter Bjorn & John-like fame. That would be most fitting considering that band’s Björn Yttling is on board with the Stockholm girl as co-producer and a session player to help give life to her vivid concept. With a subdued flamboyance that resembles a bookish Roísín Murphy resigned to a leftfield coffee house, this worldly daughter of hippies never really submits to the simplicity that gives the term "singer-songwriter” such a bland taste. The Swede’s arrangements are as intricate as the arc of Lost, as vivid as a kaleidoscope, and playful as a kitten with yarn. Her first North American effort, this month’s Little Bit EP, is a sweet appetizer to savour before the album’s summer release. Fresh from the "Stina Nordenstam School of Precious,” Lykke ’s voice is elevated by gentle acoustics, warm vibraphone, otherworldly celesta, fluttering percussion and sexy brass. She brims with pleasant surprises and seductive twists, mesmerising us with a mandolin on the enchanting title track single, "Little Bit,” and the shake’n’rattle rhythm on the meek "Everybody But Me.”

After all the attention you’ve received, why did you decide to stay on your own indie label?
I think this is just a new era. Before I got into the industry, I was watching friends get fucked over and over and over again by record labels. So that was just the choice when I got into the situation to make records [that] I was gonna drop it myself. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get help from other people or do collaborations with other labels, because that’s how [the music’s] gonna get out as well. But I want full control of what’s mine — and the music is mine.

How did Björn get involved?
I just got his number and kept calling him and nagging him and convincing him. Stockholm is quite small, but no other producers understood my vision. Then I met [Björn] and thought he was a genius.

There are so many ideas and musical styles converging in your music.
It’s a reflection of who I am because I’m totally schizophrenic. I think it’s very one style — my style. I’m from the ’80s, so people from my generation grew up with so many influences: TV, radio, internet, books, magazines and listen to all sorts of music. So it’s kind of weird not embracing that.

You seem difficult to categorise. I've noticed writers have a particularly tough time with your music. Or at least, they do a bad job without saying ignorant and obvious things. They also seem to need comparisons...
Yeah, all the artists they compare me to I've never listened to at all. Obviously you're gonna get compared especially if you're a female artist because it seems that there's only place for a few. I think it's sad and limiting, because I'd rather just be who I want to be. My influences are Tom Waits, Michael Jackson and Fela Kuti, but no one ever says that. [Laughs] I can be black or white, male or female.

You had a very colourful childhood that took you many different places at such a young age. How did the various environments and countries shape your music?
I think the only Swedish thing in me is my shyness and humbleness or modesty, I dunno, otherwise I'm not typically Swedish because I don't like to get drunk on Saturdays and I'm not a racist.

So those are typical characteristics of the Swedes?
[Laughs] No, but I'm not so Swedish, I'm a child of everybody.

Does it bother you then that everyone lumps you in with the Swedish scene?
That's just the hype right now. You can't choose where you're from. So yeah, I'm Swedish, you're American.

Actually, I'm Canadian...
Ah, Canadian, yeah. [Laughs] But it's not like I walk around with a poetic view because I'm Swedish. And everybody leaves when they get good, anyway.