Linnea Olsson played Jammin Java and fielded some questions from us on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014.
Courtesy Paul Kasko
Courtesy Paul Kasko
STPP: Welcome to the States!
Linnea Olsson: Thank you! It’s great to be here.
STPP: When did you guys fly in?
Olsson: We actually flew in on Wednesday the 5th to New York. We’ve been there doing some radio work and promotion and we did some rehearsals yesterday and then we came here. And we are actually going back to New York tomorrow to do our second show. The tour is kind of zigzag between the US and Canada until we go to Seattle and then we go in a straight line down through California.
STPP: What were you listening to on the plane ride here?
Olsson: Ooo, I actually didn’t listen to anything! I just watched movies!
STPP: Anything good?
Olsson: I saw one good movie that was Swedish, called We Are Best.
STPP: Have you been to the United States before?
Olsson: Yes, twice. In 2012 I toured here with Ane Brun, and her band, so a bit bigger setting than this. And then I toured with Peter Gabriel in September 2012.
STPP: Oh wow, Peter Gabriel! How was that?
Olsson: That was great! I sung backing vocals. I am going on tour with him this spring as well, in May. It’s with his Back to Front Tour for the So album. It’s a 25-year anniversary celebration. I play cello on one song and I also open for him with my own songs. I play two of my own songs, and then Jennie Abrahamson, also a Swedish artist, plays two songs. She also sings backing vocals.
STPP: Have you played for a big audience like that before?
Olsson: Not that size before. And it’s weird but I think small venues are more intimidating, when the audience is that close. But I was nervous as hell for the first gigs with Peter Gabriel.
STPP: Was he the first major artist your toured or played with?
Olsson: Yeah, being that famous, yes, absolutely. Ane is super famous in Scandinavia.
STPP: How do you prefer to perform? With a full band of solo/duo like you did with Ane Brun?
Olsson: … I like both. You have more stuff to do when you play alone or with one other person, but it’s also nice to get more energy from people on stage.
STPP: So are you going anywhere new to you in the US this time?
Olsson: Seattle. …I am very up in the blue when on tour all the time so I forget where I’ve been… uh, yeah, Seattle is new to me.
STPP: Do you have a favorite place that you’ve been to in the US?
Olsson: I like LA. I like New York as well. I’ve liked pretty much every place I’ve been, really. I liked Chicago when I was there, very much. And this place is wonderful! I mean, I haven’t really seen the surroundings, but this venue is great!
STPP: Have you been into DC at all?
Olsson: Yeah, I’ve been there; I really like it there too. I like touring in the States. It’s just fun! People are very nice.
STPP: Where have your other tours been?
Olsson: Europe. Not so much Eastern Europe, but mainly from Sweden and straight down. A lot in Germany, England, and France.
STPP: It’s said that Europeans treat musicians better than Americans. Like a lot of venues have guaranteed payouts and will put people up in houses. Have you seen that at all?
Olsson: No, I’ve never made that comparison, and I haven’t really heard that.
STPP: So when did you start playing cello?
Olsson: I started taking lessons when I was 6 at the music school in my hometown, Halmstad, Sweden, and then I continued. As I grew older and got better, I played more and more. It started off more as something to do for fun, and then I realized that I wanted to do it all the time!
STPP: Do you come from a musical family? Do you parents play?
Olsson: Yes, they met at Music College in Gothenburg, and that’s where they fell in love and then they worked as music teachers and they also had bands when we were kids. They’re still playing all the time. I have a big brother, and he is a drummer. He drums with the band The Royal Concept.
STPP: So do you guys have family reunions where you play music together?
Olsson: Yeah! Sometimes we do. Mid-summer’s eve, Christmas, that kind of thing.
STPP: When did you start using pedals? That’s an awesome aspect of your set.
Olsson: I started using pedals when I went to Music College around my early 20s.
STPP: So most of your training is more classical?
Olsson: Only classical, but then when I finished Music College I quit playing classical immediately, actually. I finished college with the basic degree in 3 years. It takes 3 years in Sweden.
STPP: Has most of your postgraduate music been like what you play now?
Olsson: I started playing with Ane in 2006, and that was one year before I graduated. I’ve been playing with her since, so she’s the musician I’ve been touring the most with. The indie-pop alternative kind of scene is where I’ve been hanging.
STPP: What’s the music scene like back home?
Olsson: It’s good. It’s got a lot of different kinds of things going on. There is this singer-songwriter thing, and then we have a pretty big variety of most genres really, and I think that we are all pretty good at what we do, I must say. I think maybe it’s because we have this history and tradition of music schools that are very firmly grounded in Sweden. Like, it’s so common to take music lessons, like everybody does that, and a lot of people continue doing it until they’re good! Even though they’re not going to play professionally.
STPP: So, how did you make that decision? Like, if everyone’s a good musician, how did you decided to make it your life and career?
Olsson: I think I knew when I started high school, around 15, because you can choose these special directions and I chose music then.
STPP: Is this how you imagined it? Because, you know, Peter Gabriel…
Olsson: Yeah, that’s a bit surreal! But yeah, I think I visualized pretty much this actually. And especially when I release my solo album, because I knew that I wanted to write my own stuff and perform it. And you never know how it’s gonna be of course, and you always want more, it’s not like I’m sitting satisfied. I just want to continue to make music and make a living of it.
STPP: So do we have to watch out for all the Swedish artists all over the world? Are they actually the foundation of music?
Olsson: Ha! No. Or, yes. Yes! Sweden is the foundation of music! Ahh, Swedish people… no, but I think there are a lot of interesting Swedish artists. I should be able to name drop like 50, but I can’t right now… I’m not lying though.
STPP: I think the only band I know from Sweden is The Refused. Are you familiar with them?
Olsson: Yeah, I like them. We have The Cardigans; do you know them? And of course ABBA and Roxette, Of course. Do you know Jose Gonzalez? There are a lot more names that will pop up in my head.
STPP: What are you major influences for your music?
Olsson: It’s a lot of different things. I find inspiration from pretty much everything I listen to. I suppose a lot of inspiration has come from the artists I’ve been playing with, maybe more than I know. When I wrote the album I listened a lot to Hidden Cameras–a Canadian band. At least two songs were very inspired by them. I just pick out bits and pieces that I like and I just kind of ‘Ooo!’ and then I get a whole new idea. It could be a detail in a song that I love, like a key change or a phrase.
STPP: If you could collaborate with anyone on an album or in general, who would it be?
Olsson: It would be super interesting to play with M.I.A. That would be so interesting! I used to listen to Bjork a lot, when I was younger. It would be really nice to play with her as well. I think we move around in more of the same genre of music than M.I.A. so maybe M.I.A. for me would be more of a challenge. There are so many… I would love to play with Radiohead!
STPP: They were playing Radiohead before. Was that your request?
Olsson: No, it was Ane’s playlist actually! She listens to a lot of good music. Um, yeah, there are so many artists that would be fun but M.I.A. would be exciting!
STPP: Do you listen to a lot of her stuff? Or is it more that you think you could add something?
Olsson: Oh, I listen to her; I admire her. I think she is super cool.
STPP: Our last question is, can we buy you a drink?
Olsson: Oh, actually, I’m great. I had a drinking weekend, so I’m kind of staying fresh for the gigs, but thank you so much!