Louder Than War’s Alana Turk met up with singer-songwriter Linnea Olsson before her recent gig at the Sacred Trinity Church in Manchester.
Having recently released her debut album ‘Ah!’, singer-songwriter Linnea Olsson is currently coming to the end of her headline UK tour. I had a chat with Linnea before her gig at the Sacred Trinity Church in Manchester.
Louder Than War: What was it about the cello that first inspired you to start playing?
Linnea Olsson: When I get this question, I try to remember [laughs]. I mean, I started playing cello when I was 6, so I don’t really remember the exact reason why I chose it… We have these try-out days at the music schools in Sweden where we get to go round and try out every instrument, and I suppose I liked the cello. I’m glad I chose the cello. My mother is a violinist, so… I don’t remember that she had anything to do with it but I guess I already liked the string instruments in that family.
Louder Than War: When did you first start to realise that you could make popular music with your cello?
Linnea Olsson: That thing developed because I started singing in a pop kind of way before I started playing. So I guess it grew when I went to music college in Stockholm – that’s when I really started to experiment with the cello and my voice. I started a band, Paintbox – we’re still playing – where I really started to develop the singing and playing the cello at the same time. And then I started another band called Lovemaster with a friend at music college and we started to experiment with loops… so it was really a growing thing, but it was some time around there.
Louder Than War: What inspires your music and the way that you write?
Linnea Olsson: I get inspired by both own and others’ experiences. I guess life in general and also nature inspires me a lot – maybe that’s a cliché but for me it’s like that. The sea, especially. I grew up near the ocean so… I guess there’s a lot of people who love the sea of course, but it’s one of my inspirations, really.
Louder Than War: You’ve recently released your debut solo album. How did it come about and what are you expressing on it?
Linnea Olsson: When I started writing it, I was in a state of restlessness, I would say. I felt that I needed to do something and I also had a lot of time – I didn’t have a lot of work, I didn’t have a lot of gigs, so I was like “Arghh!”, you know? Almost a bit frustrated. Because I had time suddenly to do this, I just sat down and started to write music and it really did happen pretty fast. When I started to write songs they all came out… instantly, almost.
Louder Than War: You’ve previously mentioned that you’re quite surprised by the positive reception of the album, particularly here in the UK. Why is that?
Linnea Olsson: I mean, it sounds a bit weird to say that you’re surprised… I’m just very happily, maybe not surprised but just… I had no idea how it would be received, anywhere really. Of course, nobody has I guess with any record, you don’t know! Also I’m kind of a person who keeps my expectations low [laughs]. No, but it was really because the whole process of writing was so fun, so I was just like “Ah! Have it or not.”, you know? I thought maybe that people would find it a bit narrow, like, just the cello and the voice. I really tried not to think that way because it’s so boring, but when you start to think about “Oh, what will they think? What will people think?”, that was one of the – it wasn’t really a concern – but still like… yeah maybe they will think it’s a bit too narrow. Maybe people want more versatility. But at the same time, it’s an easy listening album, it’s not difficult – I don’t find it difficult anyways!
Louder Than War: Why do you think your music has been received so well this far?
Linnea Olsson: I like the album myself. I think the sound is nice – the sound of the cello is nice and I know a lot of people like the cello as an instrument. Maybe that is why people like it, for the same reason as my concern – that it is what it is. It’s cello and it’s voice and a lot of dreamy effects. I would hope that it’s kind of inspiring music that makes people daydream [laughs]… I don’t know. But I think that is why people like it – the sound of the cello and that it is a bit… dreamy!
Louder Than War: Well, it makes me daydream…
Linnea Olsson: Yeah? Great! [Laughs].
Louder Than War: Can you see yourself collaborating with anyone else or adding more instruments to your set up in the future?
Linnea Olsson: Yes, absolutely! I really want to do that. It’s still fun to play on my own, but I would really like to drums especially – more rhythmic things. And I would like to try and step away from the loop stuff… that would be nice to not have to think about that all the time when you’re playing live! I’m gonna try and find – and I haven’t decided how yet – but I definitely want to bring in other elements. You never know, anything could happen really!
Louder Than War: So, you’re nearing the end of your UK tour. How has it gone so far and what have been the highlights for you?
Linnea Olsson: It’s gone great and every gig has its own highlights. I really enjoyed Dublin, it was really lovely and London was also very nice. It was all good, you know? I really liked the venue in Leeds, Brudenell Social Club – it was like stepping into another time almost – it was like time stood still there, it was a really nice atmosphere. Very intimate. Thekla in Bristol. I can’t say anything has been better than the other, I’m just really excited that I get to do this headline tour in the UK. It’s exciting, it really is!
Louder Than War: Finally, will we be seeing you play at any festivals this summer?
Linnea Olsson: Yeah, I have a few festivals… I don’t know about the UK, but hopefully! Booking is still in progress, so… I should check my calendar! [Laughs] But no, I have a few things going on, yeah!
All words by Alana Turk. More work by Alana on Louder Than War can be found here.