By: Paige Greely
Swedish soul artist Li Lykke Timotej Svensson Zachrisson, better known as Lykke Li, has been putting out alternative jams since she was 19. Her music is a blend of soulful lyrics, eclectic percussion, electronic synths and classic guitars.
In 2007 Li signed with Atlantic Records and put out her first album “Youth Novels” a year later. That album contains some fan-favorites such as “I’m Good, I’m Gone” and “Little Bit”. Both songs hold a steady beat that forces listeners to dance along. Popular rapper, Drake remixed the song, “Little Bit” for his 2009 mixtape, “So Far Gone” which helped bring more attention to Li in the music and worldwide arena.
Her second album “Wounded Rhymes” debuted in 2011 and had tracks that were featured in television shows such as “Hawaii Five-0,” “Pretty Little Liars” and “Teen Wolf.” The album was also featured on multiple Best Albums of the Year lists including The Huffington Post and Rolling Stone. Similarly, it was deemed one of the “next big things” in Spin magazine.
Li did the festival scene the following summer. She performed at Latitude Festival in Suffolk, England, and Paradiso in the city of George, Washington. Both venues helped widen her fan base.
Li became a founding member of the Stockholm artist collective INGRID, along with other Swedish artists, such as famous singer/songwriter/producer Björn Yttling. The collective has been cultivating creativity since its founding in 2012 by helping artists get their start in the music, film and other creative industries.
With a strong following after her previsouly successful albums, Li released her latest work titled “I Never Learn” last year. This album was produced by three co-producers, including Li, and featured music from her father, who is a member of the Swedish reggae-pop band Dag Vag. Fellow INGRID artist Björn Yttling, who has produced and written songs with bands like the Shout Out Louds and Franz Ferdinand, was also featured, along with Grammy and Golden Globe nominated musician and producer Greg Kurstin, who is best known for his work with singer Lily Allen.
During a performance on Seattle radio station KEXP, Li gave some insight into where the lyrics and theme of the new album came from. While the performance itself gave away some of what Li had been feeling and dealing with when making the album, the lyrics and vocals, along with the slow tempos and pedal steel lap guitar, really showcase the darkness and emotions Li had experienced. She herself explained the songs are “bare, naked and honest.”
One of the many powerful tracks on the album, “No Rest For The Wicked” has lyrics that could easily be seen as melancholic, though still relatable and applicable to everyone’s hardships in life. In a conversation with The Guardian Li said that she wrote the album right after a breakup; and in regards to “No Rest For The Wicked” specifically, she explains “I wrote it in Sweden when I was packing up my shit, and I’d just gotten out of a relationship and it was a horrible time. I just had the hurt, shame, sadness, guilt, longing. The vocal track, the take, is the demo. In the verse, I’m referring to myself pleading guilty, but I’m referring to all of us.”
Many of the album’s lyrics blatantly show how it feels when love fails. To further represent her creative message, Li starred in many of the music videos for the albums more popular songs, such as “No Rest For The Wicked” and “Gunshot.”
The majority of her music videos have been directed by Tarik Saleh; however, the video for “Gunshot” was instead directed by electronic videographer Fleur & Manu, who had previously directed videos for artists like Skrillex, M83 and Bag Raiders. The video for the song is a moving interpretive representation, and like the rest of her videos, is definitely worth watching.
While Li has been touring since the release of her third album, this has not kept her from collaborating and creating. Li is to be featured on artist A$AP Rocky’s highly anticipated second album “A.L.L.A” along with appearing on the soundtrack of the upcoming movie “Insurgent”(the second of the three Divergent films).
While she may not be as well-known as other artists, Li is quickly carving her own niche in the music industry. Pretty soon everyone will know who the dark-haired girl from Sweden is, and will definitely be listening to her increasingly popular tracks.
“No Rest For The Wicked”
- Lykke Li image:
- Atlantic Records logo
- Spin Mag Cover: