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Lykke Li: Bolder, But Still 'Wounded'

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Lykke Li: Bolder, But Still 'Wounded'

Lykke Li: Bolder, But Still 'Wounded'

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(Soundbite of song, "Possibility")

Ms. LYKKE LI (Singer): (Singing) There's possibility...

GUY RAZ, host:

For the millions of teens - and, let's face it, grown-ups as well - who follow the drama of Bella, Edward and Jacob, this is the music that helps tell those stories. I'm talking about the films inspired by the teen vampire series "Twilight." And this is music from one of the films, "New Moon." The voice belongs to Swedish singer Lykke Li.

(Soundbite of song, "Possibility")

Ms. LI (Singer): (Singing) Know that when you leave...

RAZ: That delicate voice, on the "New Moon" soundtrack, has undergone something of a transformation on Lykke Li's latest record. It's called "Wounded Rhymes."

(Soundbite of song, "Get Some")

Ms. LI: (Singing) Like a shotgun, needs an outcome. I'm your prostitute, you're gonna get some...

RAZ: And Lykke Li joins me here in the studio. Welcome.

Ms. LI: Thank you.

RAZ: That's a track called "Get Some..."

Ms. LI: Mmm.

RAZ: ...there is, obviously, a bolder - even somewhat provocative sound. There's a line in that song that's a metaphor, of course. It says: I'm your prostitute, you're gonna get some. Why that metaphor?

Ms. LI: That kind of just came to my mind, you know? And for the ones who know me, the people who know me, I am - you know, I kind of speak my mind in a lot of different subjects. I didn't even think that it was provocative because I've been - you know, I listen to a lot of hip-hop, for example. And I've been hearing, you know, all sorts of different words, you know. So for me, it's just natural, you know, to be talking like that.

RAZ: I've read - you say that that specific metaphor is, in a sense, you kind of saying, you know, men can get away with saying certain things. But when women write it, it's different - it's seen differently.

Ms. LI: Yeah. And for me, it was very shocking to kind of be talking about power, you know, and to make a statement about how I feel being a woman in the music industry. And all of a sudden I'm labeled as like, a victim and a real prostitute, you know? So I think it's interesting, that's all.

RAZ: It's not about sex?

Ms. LI: It's not about sex.

(Soundbite of song, "Get Some")

Ms. LI: (Singing) Go ahead, go way low, where I can do no harm. Go ahead, go way low in my honey lovin' arms. Go ahead, go way low, where I can do no wrong. Got you around my finger like a lonely lover's charm, like a lonely lover's charm, like a lonely lover's charm.

RAZ: I want to hear another track from this record. This one's called "Youth Knows No Pain."

(Soundbite of song, "Youth Knows No Pain")

Ms. LI: (Singing) So come on honey, cut yourself to pieces. Come on honey, give yourself completely and do it all though you can't believe it. Youth knows no pain. Youth knows no pain.

RAZ: Lykke Li, I'm hearing some - I think - 1960s influence here. You've got the reverb and the percussion; the organ. Was that a sound that you had in mind all along?

Ms. LI: I just wanted to give back to like, you know, real songwriting. And I want to get back to that human touch and to be like, in a room and real instruments, live takes. I think it was just because, you know, we were in a room and there were Hammonds and - you know - drummers, and my girlfriends were singing. So I think that's the sound that comes out when you're trying to keep it organic.

RAZ: Did it surprise people when they first heard it, people who know you and know your music?

Ms. LI: No, because I think - I mean, this record actually makes more sense to the people that know me. You know, this is even more me. I think the first record, I was so young. And so I felt so uncomfortable in the studio, so I couldn't really...

RAZ: Almost vulnerable in your voice.

Ms. LI: Yeah. But - almost like I had to pee or something, you know? I was a bit too tight, you know? So I think for the ones who know me, how I am as a person and also see me on stage, this record makes much more sense.

RAZ: This is more who you are.

Ms. LI: Yeah. For sure.

RAZ: I'm speaking with Swedish singer Lykke Li. Her latest album is called "Wounded Rhymes."

You had a pretty amazing and interesting childhood. I read that your family moved all around the world. Tell me, first of all, where you lived.

Ms. LI: I mean, I didn't live like - live, live, live. But I was born in Sweden, and then I lived in Portugal. And then we would just travel a lot. So we would go to Morocco; like, Nepal, India a lot, and - I mean, Thailand, America, like, New Zealand. Yeah, kind of everywhere. For me, as a teenager, I was not enjoying it, actually.

RAZ: Did you just want to be home, in Sweden?

Ms. LI: I wanted to be home, you know, and go to discos with my friend. And I always had to be on some mountain somewhere.

RAZ: But I guess in a sense - I mean, you didn't have that but in the sense -it created a completely different experience that makes you who you are.

Ms. LI: Yeah. But it also - I mean, to be me is quite a challenging process because I think that that whole sense of home - like, I don't know that feeling. I never had it, and I don't. So I never know where to go home.

RAZ: Right.

Ms. LI: And I try to ask my mom. I'll call my mom; I'll be like: Where should I go? And she's like: Oh, I don't know, because I think I'm going to move again, you know? So she just keeps moving, you know? So I don't - I lost that sense of home, you know?

(Soundbite of song, "I Know Places")

Ms. LI: (Singing) I know places we can go, babe. Coming home, come unfold, babe. And the high won't fade here, babe. No, the high won't hurt here, babe...

RAZ: And of course, when you're here in the U.S. you're identified as a Swedish singer. And people think of you as somebody from Sweden - but that's not really your home.

Ms. LI: I don't know. It is, to some parts. But it's like a home that I've always wanted to kind of get away from.

RAZ: Why get away from it? What is it about Sweden that makes you uncomfortable?

Ms. LI: I mean, I love it. There's so much great things there. But I think that's just - you know, you grow out of certain things. And also, it's so freaking cold and dark, you can't even imagine. Yeah.

RAZ: Let me ask you about the "Twilight" series because it's become so huge. Did you identify with the story in there at all? Did you feel like, this is something that I was meant to do? I was meant to make music for this.

Ms. LI: No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LI: I'm so outside of the loop, so I didn't even know what it was, you know?

RAZ: Right.

Ms. LI: And I never read the books or, you know, I don't follow that whole thing. But then I kind of was asking around when I got the offer, and then I just realized that it was this really large, like, pop culture...

RAZ: Huge.

Ms. LI: ...phenomenon, you know?

RAZ: Huge, yeah.

Ms. LI: And like, all these young people, you know, still believing in love and being romantic and, you know - so I really - you know, I remember watching films when I was, you know, in my teenage years. And you would be in love with, you know, Leonardo DiCaprio and then like, a song would come on and...

RAZ: And you loved him even more.

Ms. LI: Yeah. And you loved that song forever, too. Like, it changed your life, you know? So if I could do that on like, prime time, then yes.

(Soundbite of song, "Wounded Rhymes")

RAZ: Do you think - years from now, when you go back and listen to this record -"Wounded Rhymes" - what do you think it will remind you of? Where in your life do you think it will take you back to?

Ms. LI: I mean, for me, I'm going to be like Benjamin Button, I think. I'm just going to grow younger, you know. So I think I will probably be, you know, happy, fat, with kids and looking back and be like, oh, I was such an angry young woman, you know? So probably like, dark years before I kind of understood that life is hard, but it's always beautiful.

RAZ: Happy and fat are not adjectives that we often think of, of aging Swedes...

Ms. LI: Oh...

RAZ: ...but you never know.

Ms. LI: Yeah.

RAZ: That's Lykke Li. Her new album is called "Wounded Rhymes." If you'd like to hear a little more, go to our website, nprmusic.org.

Thank you so much.

Ms. LI: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "Wounded Rhymes")

Ms. LI: (Singing) ...run deep, run wild. I, I follow, I follow you deep sea baby. I'll follow you. I, I follow, I follow you, dark broom honey, I follow you. He, a message; I'm the runner. He, the rebel; I'm the daughter, waiting for you. You're my river running high; run deep, run wild. I, I follow, I follow you...

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