Nina Persson The Exclaim! Questionnaire

Nina Persson The Exclaim! Questionnaire
What are your current fixations?
Renovating my house. It's a really old house, so I'm trying just to take a lot of bad stuff down beyond the wallpaper.

Why do you live where you do?
I think I live [in Mulma, Sweden] because we travel so much, it's good to be in a boring place. I used to live in New York when I was having time off, and now that I work so much it's just hard to live in a huge city because I spend so much of my time in huge cities.

What do you consider a mind-altering work of art?
There's a photographer named Francesca Woodman. She totally blows my mind. She's the kind of artist that you have to see the work to make sense of it. She was a very tormented girl. I was really attracted to that because it definitely makes me really emotional, you know, young girls' problems in the world. She lived only till she was 21, but she still did, like five years of work.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
Probably seven years ago, I remember I felt totally like a god for the first time. That was Roxy's in New York in '96.

What have been your career highs and lows?
I'm really high on the fact that we actually managed to make another record that we feel so good about. I think the reunion was a high. And the low, I guess, was at the end of the touring [the last time]. Then it just felt like the Cardigans had just naturally faded away.

What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
The first time my mom came to see us on the last tour, she told me that I looked like Marilyn Manson. That made me really sad. That's coming from my mom, just because I tend to wear a huge amount of make-up.

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I'm very restless. That's the quality that I both like and dislike. It's very hard to be restless. It's good in one way because I'm really inspired at certain times, but it can also really drive me crazy. I don't give myself any rest until I work.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?
The first time I really travelled far away myself was going to Moncton, New Brunswick to see my friend. (Hi, Nicky!) That was a really important summer for me: it was buying drugs for the first time and I was hanging out with people who were very liberal, and that changed me a lot.

What are your feelings on piracy, internet or otherwise?
I don't support it, but I don't feel that strongly about it. For me, it's really a record company problem. I'm lucky enough to be an artist; I can live on my music anyway. For me, piracy just means that more people can hear it. It's a great thing in a way — that it's everybody's right to music. But I think it's really a bummer for bands who are just starting out and just waiting for the day that they can quit their jobs. That's really sad because they should get the money they have a right to. But for the record companies, I really couldn't care less about their problem.

What was your most memorable day job?
I only had one, working at an amusement park, making spun sugar and popcorn. Actually, one summer I couldn't get a job and I was a Scout leader, which was very interesting. That's as far away from me as you can get.

If I wasn't playing music I would be:
I think the first four years in the Cardigans, I had loads of ideas of what better things I could be doing, but since then I haven't. Now, I'm just really grateful that I get to do what I do. I almost see myself as being saved by the Cardigans. One of my big problems with studying art was that I'm so functional in everything I do, I ended up battling with it because I didn't want to paint anything because I didn't need anything. I didn't want to make anything. I need a purpose with everything I do. For the longest time, set designer was one thing that I was thinking a lot about. I hope I would have succeeded and become a set designer.

What do you fear most?
Realising that I am not proud of what I have done or I'm doing, either on my deathbed or in a few years.

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
In our video for "My Favourite Game," one of the stuntmen was the man who played Jason in the Friday the 13th movies. When I was a teenager, I was really obsessed with horror movies, so that was something that I really felt strongly about. He showed me his tattoo, which was on the inside of his lower lip: "KILL." I was very impressed.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
I would invite Francesca Woodman over and serve her some warm milk and cookies.

What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
She's now starting to be really proud and impressed by what I'm doing. But she's a nurse and so I know she'd be really proud if I would have been a doctor or a nurse.

Given the opportunity to choose, how would you like to die?
I want to have as peaceful a death as possible, natural as possible. You know, I'd like to just get cancer when I'm 100 years old or something like that, when I was meant to die.

Long Gone Before Daylight, the fifth album from Swedish pop quintet the Cardigans, has been a long time coming. It's been five years since the darkly experimental Gran Turismo and two since lead singer Nina Persson's solo foray into country-rock as A Camp. Long Gone Before Daylight naturally combines the melancholy air of its predecessor with A Camp-esque back-to-basics songwriting and bittersweet country twang.

"It's coming from country music but it's taking it somewhere else," says Persson. "Real country music is a lifestyle. You just can't play country music like that. It's like the white man's blues, you know. It just doesn't sound right."

Fans expecting a return to the effervescent, Prozac-fuelled Cardigans, circa 1995's Life, can kiss those hopes goodbye. Although the band has reverted to their organic roots, they continue to mine the sad, beautiful strains first explored on Gran Turismo.
"With Gran Turismo, for the first time we were like, ‘Hey, we're not entertainers. We don't have to make music to make people dance,'" she explains. "The [new record] is very melancholic and sad, but it still has some warm solutions; it has an urge to communicate, which Gran Turismo did not have."

Given the band's ever-shifting sound, some might consider the Cardigans' take on country music to be insincere. Nina, however, is perfectly candid about their place in the time-honoured genre. "You can't be a white, middle-class girl from Sweden and do country music," she admits. "On the other hand, what we are inspired by is something that exists equally in the Swedish music tradition, which is making organic music with real instruments and a lot of heart and pain and suffering."
Andy Lee