There’s no denying that international alt-pop tends to flourish in the U.S.A. New Zealand gave us Lorde, Sweden gave us Tove Lo, and now, Denmark has given us Soleima. As a singer-songwriter, Soleima has a colorful history when it comes to music. She can play several instruments, was previously a member of a a hip-hop music collective, and even released a cover of Young Thug’s “Check.” She’s a musician in every sense of the word; one who writes and produces for the sake of putting out good music, and not for sake of appearing on the charts. Her debut EP, No. 14, is proof of that, as well as her latest release Bulldog.
In a wide-ranging interview with L’Officiel USA, Soleima discusses her Scandinavian sensibilities, playing festivals and walks us through her creative process.
Where does the name Soleima come from?
“Soleima” is something that Danish fathers tend to call their daughters when they are about to do something they are not supposed to do.
What was it like growing up in Denmark?
It was awesome. I went to this little school with only 60 students and had a great upbringing.
How do Danish influences make their way into your music and videos?
In Scandinavia, we tend to have a do-it-yourself ‘DIY’ kind of attitude towards music I think. That is how my friends and I always practiced music and learned it together. I don’t think anyone can avoid getting influenced by where they grow up.
You were in a hip-hop collective, can you tell me more about that?
I played in a 7-piece Danish hip-hop band. I played the piano and sang a little, otherwise, it was rap. We were inspired by Stiff Bike, Wutang, and The Roots. That was very much how I learned music and how to write and play with others.
What do you think is so remarkable about electronic music?
I like the idea of combining the electronic and the organic. That is very much what I find I am doing best. My single “Low Life” is a good example of this. I wrote it in Sweden and produced the song together with another producer, Vasco, who I almost always work with. He is absolutely awesome.
It feels like you’re singing it to someone. Who are you singing to?
It is a song I wrote to my brother. But overall I think it is a praise to all people who dare to be happy in their lives. I find that can sometimes be harder than you would expect.
How would you describe the new mini album?
Bulldog comes as a result of focusing on the songwriting process and staying creative instead of trying to make the music fit into a time or sound. It has been a way to reclaim the process of writing instead of thinking of where the finished songs necessarily fit.
It is highly important for me to work like this and I felt like I was drifting a little away from this work process. Therefore, it is an extremely personal EP of great importance to me.
Which song was the hardest to write?
“Bulldog,” definitely. I love that it is this weird little ballad with a strange drop.
Do you have a favorite moment from the creative process of making this album?
Vasco and I went to a summer house to try and start the process for this mini album. When you work like this, it is very intense; everything melts together and you are able to experiment more than you would do in a normal studio or in a session.
This is such an inspiring and fun way to work. You get to write songs—which I love—and drink big bottles of red wine in a forest with your friends, too!
Where is your favorite place to perform?
I love playing festivals. People are in this very special piece of mind I find. Ready for anything.
What was your most memorable festival experience
Roskilde festival in Denmark.
What is your favorite instrument at the moment?
Right now I like the saxophone very much.
What’s the one song you can’t get out of your head at the moment?
M.T. Hadley’s “Janet.”
Where do you go to feel happy?
My home, with my amazing friends who are pretty much family by now.