There are some songs you hear once and forget about and then there are songs that stay on repeat all day. Swedish singer, Janice gives us just the track. The 22-year-old songstress has a voice powered with depth and emotional richness beyond her years. She’s easily reminiscent of (and compared to) the R&B greats of the 80s and 90s. Her debut song “Don’t Need To” received indie blog acclaim earlier this year, but it’s Janice’s newest collaboration with Danish producer, True Panther’s Taragana Pyjarama that takes the song to addictive status. With infectious loops and atmospheric additions, this remix is nothing short of a glistening electro-pop gem sure to make your midsummer playlist.
Rob Garcia backstage during the fall 2014 show. Photo by James Law.
When Rob Garcia from EN|NOIR told us he was taking a trip to Sweden with Steve Angello, we asked him to take a few photos of his travels. Below are some casual iPhone shots from the recent trip.
This was in Steve’s summer home in Sweden. He had this giant bean bag that could instantly put me to sleep:
Steve was showing us around Copenhagen and this was a really cool church that we passed. It was amazing being around so many historic buildings that sat amongst really modern structures. Opposite worlds colliding in a very cool way:
This was a stretch of restaurants in Copenhagen. I took this shot while we were dying to find ice cream on a waffle cone:
The shift in scenery between my bases in LA/NYC and coming to Copenhagen was a refreshing. This was a shot of historic government buildings in Sweden that I took — it captured that really beautiful, old-world feel that feels really peaceful:
With our Creative Director and Co-Founder Jason Wolter, about to get in an Audi S8 with Steve and his team. Great car:
We, at BlackBook, highly recommend you try this at home. (Except for the fact that we don’t.) Have you ever tried Knife Ping Pong? It involves: knives, ping pong paddles, and Swedish people. The stunt group, Tumba Ping Pong, have combined table tennis with deadly art of knife attack. The result: We watch.
Thank you Sweden for producing such nice people with amazing knife/ping pong proclivities. This video confirms: Sweden – it’s not all about Ikea anymore!
Once again, the Eurovision Song Contest has come and gone, the people of the Eurovision Broadcasting Union nations have spoken and another pop song has been chosen as champion. But while Danish pop singer Emmelie de Forest’s "Only Teardrops" ran away with a big victory in the finals, one of the most memorable numbers of the finals wasn’t in the competition at all. As part of her hosting duties for this year’s contest, held in Malmö, Sweden, popular comedian Petra Mede was charged with the task of introducing Europe and the world at large to Sweden and its people.
Sweden has a long and illustrious history in the Eurovision Song Contest, from helping assert ABBA’s pop dominance ("Waterloo" was a Eurovision winner) to 1991 winner Carola to last year’s anthem from Loreen, "Euphoria." And the thing about Eurovision is that the winning country hosts the following year, which means the host country has an opportunity to showcase itself in whichever fashion it chooses. And, for Sweden, that choice was a big, cheesy and wonderful production number. As we all know, there’s far more to Sweden than ABBA, IKEA and other four-letter, all-caps cultural signifiers.
Mede and her team decided to run with the theme, joyfully lampshading every regular stereotype, global perception or other trope about Sweden, from horse-meat meatballs to its polite, orderly people to its successful women’s soccer team. It’s all in good fun, and bonus points for lines like "There’s Volvo, and Garbo, the best loganberries / and all of our problems digesting our dairy." Watch for something light for you to ease into your week with.
Swedish singer and lover of mechanized beings Robyn is an icon in her home country and the world over, and some students at KTH, Sweden’s largest technical university, have launched a project to build a robot at their university in honor of the pop star. We could talk about how this seems like a frivolous exercise for a group of promising robotics students who could be using their talents and young minds to solve some of society’s great ills, but that would be boring. You know what isn’t boring? Making a Robyn-Bot. Not only does this have potential to spark some new ideas at the intersection of music and high technology, but think of the potential! Maybe the robot will become sentient and become a competitor to Robyn, culminating in a high-stakes dance-off where both don fur vests and re-enact the "Call Your Girlfriend" video?
As the students involved in the project write:
"Robyn has something any engineer can be inspired by – the urge to find new expressions and break new ground.
The main goal for this project is for Robyn to embrace and interact with the robot, both physically and digitally. But there is a secondary goal – to honor everyone who choses to go their own way and has a desire to push our development forward. Because without them, we would be stuck in a much less pleasant time."
So far, they’ve already achieved at least one of their goals—the singer, who has expressed her affinity for robots with songs like "Fembot" and "Robot Boy," as well as the "Girl and the Robot" collaboration with Röyksopp, has already chatted with students involved in the project about the features of the robot. They hope to invite more collaborators and complete the project by 2014. And I, for one, welcome our new Robyn-Bot overlords. Watch the project’s introductory video and a performance of "Girl and the Robot" below.
Imagine a world where lunch breaks are parties. Where you can leave your computer monitor for an hour, let out your angst over Excel spreadsheets and lukewarm, instant office coffee on a dance floor, and jam to the tune of a DJ’s throbbing beats – all before 2pm. This world exists. Not just in your mind – but in reality, thanks to Lunch Beat, the international, non-profit lunchtime dance party initiative, which was such a hit in Sweden in 2010, co-founders Sarah Reynolds & Isha Toor decided it was time to bring it to the States – and straight to Flatiron. Next week.
On Wednesday, April 24th, from 12:30pm-1:30pm, ditch your Microsoft Outlook and pass through the velvet rope at Slate, where you can not only decompress for an hour at an alcohol-free, daytime disco, but also eat really healthy vegetarian food – all for just $12. Under one condition: you must dance. You must get down. So pack your dancing shoes.
Stockholm, Sweden’s Shout Out Louds, like many groups of that region, have steadily released the kind of catchy, whip-smart, retro-pop tunes that will get you a loyal following and sleeper success status in the States. Now, with Optica, they could be poised to jump off the American Apparel playlist and into the public eye.
Case in point: NPR is streaming it, and once some upper-middle-class people who were conscious in the 1980s get a load of this, they won’t be able to go jogging without it—imagine the soundtrack to Donnie Darko filtered through a rainbow.
As if that weren’t good enough, “Blue Ice” sounds kind of like a Springsteen ballad? And “Walking In Your Footsteps” has the jauntiest flute line you’ll hear all week. See you later, I have to be in some kind of montage now.
Jens Lekman is a fan of telling engaging, amusing and very personal stories, whether in his music, between songs at his live shows or on his blog. His latest yarn, a new song called "Olivia & Maddy," is a pop thank-you to two fans who helped Lekman’s pianist, Jonas, leave New York and meet the rest of the band in time for a tour on the opposite end of the country after the deluge of Hurricane Sandy. As Lekman recounts on his blog:
"Back in October, my pianist Jonas got stuck in New York after the city got hit by hurricane Sandy. The roads were flooded, flights were cancelled, even the Chinatown buses stood still. This was two days before our west coast tour was supposed to start. I decided to ask for your help. I asked if anyone would be able to drive him to Boston where I knew we could get him on a plane. In return I offered a little money and a song."
Replies and responses came through Lekman’s inbox by the hundreds almost immediately, and the two girls mentioned in the song’s title, Olivia and Maddy, came to the rescue. Lekman held up his end of the bargain and described the day’s events over Jonas’ piano playing: "Like Batman and Robin in the Batmobile / passing through the catastrophe / they drove Jonas all the way to Boston / took a whole day but they said it was nothin’."
Listen to and download the finished product, the lovely "Olivia & Maddy," here and if you haven’t yet, heed Lekman’s call and help out your neighbors. From a guy whose most memorable songs feature the futility of hermit crabs, the end of the world and everyday romantic misunderstandings, the whole thing is pretty heartwarming, and his message worth heeding. As he sings, "I didn’t know I had such an army to mobilize / I think about what else we can organize… so meet me at the end of this song / let’s make right what’s been wrong / I’ve got a list a hundred pages long."
These things we know: 1) from his savagely beating up girlfriend Rihanna to seeming pretty unrepentant about the whole thing to getting a tattoo that looks a whole lot like a battered image of Rihanna on his neck to far less severe but still pretty awful infractions like dressing up as “a terrorist” for Halloween, Chris Brown is kind of the worst; 2) people who are in agreement that Chris Brown is the worst are quick to put Chris Brown on blast whenever he does things that are the worst. And Rihanna may be able to forgive, as she prepares to release a new single with him and told Andy Cohen he was “pretty dope,” some activists in Sweden are definitely not (sorry, but Neetzan Zimmerman at Gawker got to the “Stockholm Syndrome” pun before you did).
Months after Brown’s latest album was tagged with “This Man Beats Women” stickers at a store in London, a guerrilla group in Sweden has been “promoting” his November 19th show at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm with posters featuring the image of a battered Rihanna. The current moderator of Sweden’s official Twitter account, which is run by a different Swede every week, snapped a picture of the posters, writing, “In Stockholm people are showing their dislike that Chris Brown is coming to town by posting these posters.” Although the identities of the posters’ creators are a mystery at this point, they point to a larger initiative in Stockholm to pressure promoters to cancel the show.
There’s already plenty of debate over whether or not putting an image of Rihanna in a very vulnerable position is the right way to go about this, and there’s the issue of how survivors of domestic violence in Sweden will react to the posters, which probably should have been considered more carefully. But hopefully, in general all this putting Chris Brown on blast will mean we’re one step closer to a culture where excelling in sports or entertainment does not give you a free pass to do unforgivable things.