Nina Persson

Nina Persson

One of Sweden's biggest pop stars over the past decade doesn't need further introduction. Most people already know that after The Cardigans took over the world in the late nineties, her group A Camp was hailed by critics and Nina Persson has been on the covers of lifestyle magazines from Tokyo to New York. It has been almost five years since A Camp's most recent sign of life, and The Cardigans have not made a new album since 2005.
And since then, a lot has happened.

When you think about it, Nina Persson has actually always been the pop star who dared to do whatever she wants. In recent years, she performed in a cabaret in New York, started a family and made roots music with A Camp. She even took part in a documentary that themed around Dolly Parton's musical gift. But in the middle of it all, she became seriously ill, which of course no one expected. A few years ago Nina was diagnosed with cancer, which also contributed to her lengthy break from making music.
- When you get sick, it is dramatic and scary and hard. And afterwards you think it's over. But there's so much afterwards. I have really begun to love my life outside of work and have also learned to work in a way that makes it more joyful, says Nina Persson.

So who is Nina Persson today?
Who is the artist we meet on the first solo album?

Musically, she has written everything with husband Nathan Larson (A Camp, Shudder To Think) and Eric Johnson (formerly of The Shins, Fruit Bats), but with a completely new approach. No luxury studios with expensive daily rates. No super producers. Instead, they "hung around" at the house in Harlem and played the songs with just a guitar and piano.
- The most difficult and maybe also the best thing about going solo is probably all the decisions you make alone. Somewhere inside, I have a very clear clock, a gut feeling, that says what I think. I have forced myself to just keep going and follow only my gut with this album. I have simply no time to dwell on things anymore which I did a lot before, says Nina Persson.

Nina and Eric became friends when the ex-Shins member worked on film soundtracks along with Nathan at the home of the Persson/Larson couple's Harlem residence. Meanwhile, Nina was at home with the children and the three clicked immediately. Then came the idea to do a solo album with both of them contributing as songwriters.
- Eric lives in Portland but has been in New York and worked with us for several periods. This time I decided to experiment more with swing music, as well as disco and eighties soul. It has been both new and somewhat liberating for me, says Nina while smiling.

In many ways, it is indeed a new Nina we meet. The jazzy playful pop melodies she made an art form with The Cardigans are still there. At the same time, she takes a couple of clear steps forward in her development with tracks that land somewhere between the melancholy of A Camp and blue- eyed soul. Several tracks also contain soundscapes reminiscent of one of Nina first musical loves, namely Donna Summers' emotional Sad Disco period.

What is the album about then?
Well for example, songs like " Animal Heart" and "Burning Bridges For Fuel" address the ever-present theme of moving forward without getting caught in the past. "My animal heart is telling me to flee... " sings Nina in one lyric while sharing that the song came into existence out of her thoughts on how one should more often act on intuition.
- Both with the Cardigans and A Camp, I have done everything with very driven musicians but now I wanted to put myself first. Honor the singer in me, and what is in my own musical roots. I have also in my work understood that pop music is deeper in me than I previously wanted to admit, says Nina.

For Nina, it is important to know what her music should be before she can write. Her music needs context. When the urge to make a solo album came and Nina started working again, she noticed that life and her self have not changed so monumentally in recent years. Although she settled down and has gone through a difficult time, she still had the same old questions around existence.
- What I write is still about relationships and alienation. The perennial topics that I always return to, says Nina.

In recent years, Nina also thought a lot about rooms, which is also one of the archetypes in Jungian dream interpretation. In her recurring dreams are always different rooms and houses. Either she lives alone in a huge house or she has suddenly moved in with her parents again. Every now and then, Nina finds a door she has never opened.
- I love scenography and think rooms are super interesting both figuratively and physically. This time I wanted to try to get this fascination into music. For example, rooms in the forest or underwater. Although all songs still, more or less, are about alienation and relationships, I still wanted to put new imagery in old themes. I've become very enamored with animals and the forest, even though I am a typical city person. Water, trees and greenery. I have been almost obsessed with finding it in my own city because it is so difficult in New York, says Nina.

Other tracks like "Catch me crying" is about a past love relationship. But Nina does not really know herself if it is a sexual relationship she sings of, or an old friend.
- But it deals with sentimentality and how to respond to it, she says.

The topic came up last summer when Nina, after a several year break, again played with the Cardigans. Together they toured and performed their old songs.
- It was very nice. We did not go through that long process of making a new album, which can be difficult. We just started rehearsing. Then we noticed that we've missed each other, so it 's about what you do with that feeling -- that friendships or a relationship can so easily go up in smoke. One's sense of togetherness remains even through times without communication.

White Prism

White: The presence of all the wavelengths of visible light.

Prism: A transparent optical element that reflects images and refracts light.

These two words combine to define the sound of the new Johanna Cranitch project – White Prism. The Australian-born and NYC-based artist, has been surrounded by music since birth. It was her Hungarian grandfather, a jazz pianist, who gave her his blessing by declaring, "this one will be musical." And so, her musical journey began.

From her early upbringings in the esteemed Kodaly school of music, to the Gregorian chants that her father, a former Priest in training, brought to the table; Johanna was veered to the stage by her music loving parents. She was gracing the halls of the Sydney Opera House at the tender age of 9, and performing with the Opera Australia Children's Chorus. Opera was merely the beginning for this pop loving songstress. Her love of Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush, and Wham! would influence her future leanings into dreamy, electro-pop songwriting.

Upon graduating from high school, Johanna enrolled in a vocal jazz program at the Australian Institute of Music, where she graduated with honors. After a stint of performing across Australia, Johanna landed in New York City. Once in New York, she found herself as a studio engineer at the prestigious Nola Recording Studios. It was during her time at Nola that she began writing and recording over 300 demos. These demos would eventually lead her to her first album and the shimmering sounds of her former project, Johanna and the Dusty Floor.

Johanna had navigated her way through every aspect of the music industry, and she had finally revealed herself as an artist worthy of acclaim. She would soon find herself crisscrossing the globe, including a world tour with The Cranberries, as well as performing at Autre Magazine's (James Franco and Adarsha Benjamin's publication) Paris launch. However, she was constantly shifting and shaping her sound along the way. The Dusty Floor had given birth to a new sound. Her ethereal, "Kate Bush-inspired huskyisms", as described by Time Out magazine, had crystallized into the electro-pop chicness that is White Prism.

Earl Burrows


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