Nocturnal Confessions: Saab Story

Twas the night before Fashion Week, and New York was quite bored Not a creature was stirring, not even Harold Ford. The garments were hung, from the models with care, In the hope that Saint Anna, soon would be there. But instead of that ice queen, God had flurries in store, “Snowpocalypse!” said Fox news, that Republican whore. My date in her Rochas, and me in my coat Jumped on the F, and then hopped over moats To the White Slab, we flew at a trot To toast a new mag, with some Swedes who are hot.

With great apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, I couldn’t think of a better way to frame last night’s wintry less-than-wonderland. The night before fashion week is a lot like The Night Before Christmas—all this excitement for something that is actually fairly trivial (especially for us Jews) and happens every year–so I decided to seek out the most intimate, alternative, and still newsworthy party that Mother Nature would permit. What I found was the one year anniversary of the Swede Beat magazine, an online journal that chronicles pop culture, particularly music, from the land of Strindberg and Saabs.

After university, a move to NYC in 2007, and a stint at CMJ, Stockholm ex-pat Lydia Kellam noted a growing interest in Swedish musicians, like Lykke Li and Jens Lenkman, “which I thought was funny and strange,” she says. She wanted to help bring the pop culture of her homeland to the fore, and saw her opportunity. “I wanted to start a blog, but there are so many blogs out there, and I’m a very serious person, so if I was going to do something, I was going to do it for real. So that’s why I started the Swede Beat.”

Launching in February of 2009, Kellam set the goal of promoting Swedish contemporary pop culture, focusing on bands like Peter Bjorn and John, artists like Marcus Palmqvist and fashion brands like Acne. And yet Kellam remains dedicated to excavating her home country’s lesser known talents as well, “We give attention and space to a lot of small artists—we’re not saying that if you’re featured in the Swede Beat you’re the next big thing, but you don’t have to be famous. If we like it, we cover it. We never write about things we don’t like. There is so much culture in Sweden, and so many creative people,” she says “I just wanted to promote it to the world, and create a valuable resource. I feel like there’s a lot of great designers, and artists that people don’t realize are Swedish, and I want to attach that Swedish brand to these artists.” The magazine’s themed issues are available both at the Swede Beat website (which is as crisp and stark as its namesake nation) and in newsletter form, currently going out to about 8,000 subscribers worldwide, most in the US and Sweden, but ranging from Portugal to Chile.

The future for the mag could extend past the content, “I’ve had a lot of requests from bands and event requests for putting together shows, which is something I’d like to take advantage of. Because there are a lot of Swedish bands coming to New York, bands like Soundtrack of Our Lives, Movies, Taken By Trees, El Perro Del Mar, Shout Out Louds, Jenny Wilson…and I’d like to do events with them.” Sounds good to me. The party itself was intimate, featuring a DJ set by Taken By Trees (whose, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” ranks up their with my favorite covers of all time), deliciously inexpensive pear/vodka cocktails that like an elixir made by wood nymphs. There were blondes, and tall people, all well-behaved, exactly how you’d think a room full of Swedish art kids would be. Like vikings on Clonopin.

Art. Swedes. Pear potions. All in all, perfect prophylactic to for fashion week’s consuming affectations.

image This was Delancey St. last night.  Not pictured: the tsunamis at every corner and my boots filled with melted snow and ice. Also not pictured: my sad face as my boots filled with gross melted ice and snow (probably from Jersey).

image Swede Beat founder Lydia Dammler, and her friend, Kellam.

image “I said to Magnus, ‘You are not in the state-approved bike lane; this lane is for ecologically efficient transport vehicles with 3 förtjusande passengers!  You Kinkig’.” Then we laughed.”

image Same sex unions are legal in Sweden. Very legal.

image For a moment, I thought the lady on the right was the kid with Asperger’s from The Real World Washington DC (because of the hat). She’s not.

image “We are happy because our Kroener-based economy is in great shape while yours remains in tatters.”

image Tall. Gorgeous. Well dressed. Eff these people.

image After I took this photo, the young lady looked at it, giggled like a Pixar squirrel on poppers, and then skipped off. Literally, skipped.

image Despite one of the world’s toughest immigration policies, they make exceptions for people who dress in the style of “awesome.”

image Taken by Trees and her DJ pal. Look at those eyes. They could melt a glacier.  I swear, later on she winked at me.

image Told you so.

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