Here are three pages and 1774 words pause with Broder John
Text by Julia Eklund, Photography by Julia Eklund by Nora Persson
“I still find this quite awkward” are the first words that come through my computer speaker, a rough start for the conversation I had with the Swedish rapper, Broder John, which would continue on for three hours. Broder John has been on the Swedish rap scene since he was 19 years old. In 2016, he released his first solo album that evolved from his personal experience as someone trying to find his place with “the boys” while growing up. The innovative and genre-crossing sound on his recent album took him to the ColorsxStudios show but forced him to reevaluate his vision.
J: As I understand it, the creation of your second album DRIFT came from the process of somehow finding your way back to the music. As well as you went in with the attitude that it would be the last thing you did as Broder John. How was it realizing you were saying farewell to your alter ego?
BJ: After my first album Cool I was very lost. I fell into a darkness of wanting to please everyone which led me to not finding any joy in the music I was creating. I had gotten the idea for DRIFT because I wanted to write about what I went through after releasing Cool. I felt that I had to get this out of my system and then I was done. This realization felt like a huge weight was lifted off my chest, to not even have to identify with Broder John and all that entailed.
J: Your album DRIFT is a concept album where the songs fit together. The note on the last track fits with the first note on the first track, creating a loop. How was this concept created?
BJ: I was going through a big process in life so it was created along the way. One of the first songs I wrote was IGEN. It came out of the grief of saying goodbye to Broder John. But it hit me that I had felt this before, connected to other things. Even though they were different experiences, it was the same feeling. I realized that we are all in drift. The elevator pitch for my album is how you go through things and not what you go through. Part of the idea was to leave Broder John in that loop so if someone would ask “What happened to Broder John?” I could answer “He got stuck in DRIFT, he’s still there ”.
J: Paul Adamah (aka Boko Yout) has been a big part of the creation of DRIFT and you guys became close while working together, how did that thing happen?
BJ: I had been in my bubble and my own downfall in DRIFT. But then I started to see a different light and at the same time, Paul came and burst my bubble and brought an injection of creativity that took this project to the heart. It would definitely not have the same sound and probably not even exist without him.
J: I get the feeling that the people you work with are already or have become your close friends, is that a must for your creation?
BJ: Yes, I think it is a premiss because it is so connected to the core of what I'm doing. I sit by myself a lot and think and turn words. So the people I work with must be on the same frequency. That's probably why they're my friends too since we're on the same level.
J: You seem to have a clear compass about what feels right and wrong in your creative work. Where does that feeling come from?
BJ: I don't really know. With Cool was it almost absurd looking back on it. I could sit for months trying to find a specific word that no one has ever thought of. But it felt so damn right when I found it. There is a force within me that wants to have a complete piece in my own sense.
J: Since you have this precise image of your work, how does it feel to let go of your music and let it float out into the universe?
BJ: When the music video to Truppen was released I was in Umeå and a teenager stopped me and said the video was such a vibe. Just being out with the boys and driving. Later a childhood friend told me he thought it was the saddest video he had ever seen. This tense atmosphere that exists in the masculine culture. It struck me that both interpretations are equally relevant even though they are opposites of each other. The universe gets much bigger when the songs are released. The different readings of the songs are what create the pieces. It’s like when I played SIDOR to Paul the first time. He cried because for him it reflected how it was for him growing up as black and gay in Örebro. Which is as far away from me as it gets, growing up as a straight white male in Umeå.
J: It seems that you have quite a relaxed way of talking about your creations and people's interpretations, while you are quite restrictive about your private life towards media. That you can be personal but not private?
BJ: Yeah, I'm terrified of social media. I don't want my private life to be part of my “brand”. I found that there isn’t a platform in Sweden for us artists to talk about what we do and not who we are. It's depressing from our perspective considering how much time we've put into our creations.
J: I have an image of Sweden and mainly Stockholm that people don’t start things, either because they’re afraid or there is some kind of elite that rules the creative space. At least in our minds. Like why isn’t there a platform like this in Sweden?
BJ: There’s this illusion that starting something requires such large machines and resources and contacts. But it is not true. It’s some kind of myth they’ve accepted. It is possible to start a movement all by yourself.
J: But why have we bought into this myth?
BJ: I think people lose patience too quickly. It feels like a product of everything we are going through now with TikTok. If it doesn’t go viral on the first try, it is seen as a failure and then you give up. There is a lack of consistency, today people want to start at the top of the list because they think it begins there. When I released Cool I didn't have that many streams at all compared to today. Instead I followed Natta (Aka Cleo) on her tour and got to play before her. It was a year and a half of hassle where I got 1500 Swedish crowns per gig. But after that I noticed that people started finding my music. If Cool had been released and gone viral on TikTok would it have been a lot of fun that week, but I could never build anything long-term with it.
J: With all the celebrity talk, you have an international fan base as well. You performed at the SXSW music festival in Texas and your tour this year has Oslo on the list, you have listeners here in Paris and not least the ColorsxStudio (Aka COLORS) show. Would you like to grow more internationally?
BJ: It depends on what it means, I don't put much value in the quantity. How people receive my music is always gonna be a mystery to me as much as I feel blessed. And if another million were as invested as those who listen to me today, I wouldn't say no of course. But a million more who have only heard WIKIFLOW on COLORS wouldn’t feel so appealing. Fine, you are also welcome as uninvested, but I don't strive to be big just for the sake of being big.
J: COLORS is a music platform based in Berlin that is considered one of the biggest live music channels on youtube. You were the first artist to perform in Swedish. What was it like doing the COLORS show?
BJ: It was so cool, COLORS is kind of the only goal I’ve had. They contacted me back in 2018 when I had no new music except for a reproduction of my first album that didn’t turn me on at all. So when I contacted them again two years later, I was so scared that I had blown that chance.
J: It’s quite a big goal that you achieved, how was that?
BJ: The experience of it was one of the funniest and safest spaces I’ve been in professionally but when it was released I felt nothing. And I'm pretty happy about that. I was so present when it happened that I didn't have my focus on the release. I could’ve stared at the comments and views for hours, but this time I really didn’t care.
J: Why is it that?
BJ: I was in a process after the release of DRIFT where I tried actively to get rid of this hole that is one's need for validation. Because you can always get more likes or views and it's such a poison. You get addicted to those kicks, that's why people do Tiktok and shit. We get deceived by the things we can measure, but it’s a pipe dream.
J: Do you have a goal now that is as ambitious as COLORS was to you?
BJ: Well, I died when they contacted me, but after, I also felt that now that I've achieved this, don’t I have any more goals to strive for? There is something about such dreams that become a bit of an anticlimax. Once you're there, it's like, “Yeah this is cool but also exactly how I imagined it to be”. Or you get disappointed because it doesn't happen. After COLORS, I recalibrated how I looked at my visions.
J: What did you come up with?
BJ: In the project I'm working on now, my goal is to feel creative, that I'm doing something progressive and with people I like. That's a much healthier goal. I mean I'm in this for the long run, I will devote my life to culture. Striving for a wholesome existence feels like a fairly reasonable approach.
Chez Meme Lord Liv Strömquist
Text by Tova Olsson, Photography by Julia Eklund
The cartoonist Liv Strömquist recently published a book about astrology. We met in her hotel lobby in Marais, one morning in March. The text that follows was supposed to be a feel-good article à la women's magazine. A little coffee table text with sprinkles of astrological guidance, but it turned out another way.
Everyone loves astrology. Everyone except Liv Strömquist. Perhaps she could even be considered the only public figure who has raised a critical voice against it, for another reason than it being generally lame. Liv thinks it's potentially dangerous. In interviews about her latest book, Liv Strömquist’s astrology, she compares it to alcohol: moderation is key. It’s not about a newfound moralism but, as so often, Strömquist's interest in the philosopher Theodor Adorno’s theories. In his text The Star is Down to Earth he presents his take on the psychological reasons behind the craze for astrology. The bottom line: we live in the Century of the self. Astrology both answers to our insatiable interest for who we are, and through sober advice guides us towards our petty-bourgeois dreams. Being promoted to middle manager or having a romantic encounter etc. Adorno remarks that there is a playful irony to reading your horoscope, which offers a comic relief from the pressure of having to achieve the very same goals. Liv laughs and adds that Adorno also suggests astrology might attract masochists, i.e people who are into sexual submission. None of his ideas paint a very flattering image of our horoscope-checking society, but even so it’s not the reason for Liv’s warnings. Her concerns come from Adornos’ comparison between astrology and OCD*. He believes it sparks the same mechanisms, a way to feel in control and to channel anxiety. Fine in small doses, but can lead to compulsive behavior.
L: That's probably also why astrology feels fun. You get a kick from the feeling that there might not be a catastrophe coming today, haha. But it’s both the sickness and the cure.
*Obsessive compulsive disorder
Liv speaks from her own experiences, there was a time when she was an astrology girl. Together with her girlfriends she ravaged around town, picking on guys by asking about their zodiac sign. When she eventually got herself a man, unclear if it was thanks to that strategy or not, she nonetheless continued to live her life aligned with stars. Until one day she decided to stop. Liv was pregnant and afraid. Not for the health of her or the baby, but whether her child would be born Aquarius or Pisces, the latter being a sensitive and demanding zodiac sign. She laughs and describes how she went “completely mental” trying to calculate the date of delivery. It had gone too far.
L: Then I stopped completely, it wasn't fun anymore.
T: I thought we should test if you think I have a harmful use of astrology. I got three things. One: I have the Co-star app. So I know my moon sign and my ascendant and I get daily updates. Is that a risk zone behavior?
L: No, I don't think that sounds so bad. It depends on what you do with it. Does your daily updates dictate your life?
L: Then it’s ok.
T: Okay. Now to some heavier stuff. Two: It has happened that I’ve on a first date read our compatibility out loud.
L: I don't think that sounds so bad either. It's a fun way to understand people. It qualifies as getting to know someone. On the other hand, if you would look it up before and choose not to meet because you’re not compatible, then it’s gone too far.
T: Okay, here comes the last one. It’s dark. If I fall in love with someone, I get an almost obsessive thought that I have to check how compatible the person is with all my friends. Out of fear that they will fall in love with each other.
L: Oh no! Hahah.
T: I know it's terrible.
L: But that's an insecurity that always comes with the vulnerability of liking someone. That uncertainty is so hard to bear so you ask yourself "Is there some way to make sure that this won't happen". That’s an example of using astrology in an anxiety-relieving, slash anxiety-enhancing way. Because you could discover, for example...
T: ...that they are super compatible.
L: Haha yeah. You should try to stop. But I recognize myself in that. You want reassurance. Some kind of sign. But I don't think it’s that mentally ill.
L: - it's quite human. Haha.
After showing me around the quaint hotel we take the stairs up to her room. It is not the first time Liv stays here. France was the first country to translate her books and when Prince Charles's sentiment (Les sentiments du Prince Charles) was published in 2012, she hit the charts. Since then, Liv has had reason to return several times. Although the BD culture* is huge in France, she stands out. Before the release of her last book, Elle France asked themselves: "What is the reason for the Liv-mania". The answer: that her books mediate philosophical and, above all, feminist theories. Also in Sweden, she can be described as one of the left wing’s most beloved educator of the masses. Therefore, this visit to Paris is different. Liv Strömquist’s Astrology is a book in another direction, being less theoretical.
*Short for bande dessinée, comicstrips in french.
T: I think a parallel can be drawn between how your latest book and Ruben Östlund's film Triangle of Sadness (Sans Filtres) have been received. You both got cold reviews back home in Sweden but are major hits abroad. The criticism you both got has to do with lack of analysis, Ruben because it’s too shallow and in your case because it’s simply missing. I think of you two as some kind of present-day Mom and Dad of Swedish culture. Could this be a sign that analysis is on decline? Or have you two already peaked popularity-wise in Sweden?
L: Hahah. Erm. I have always been very loved in Sweden and have received almost every cultural award there is. I understand that it’s too much to give me yet another one.
T: I think that’s pretty understanding of you. Ruben feels rather bitter about his reviews in Sweden?
L: Yes maybe. But I think people are sweet and respectful and tolerant with me. They could have been much much much more disapproving about my stuff. And feel more disappointed. I think it's strange that people haven't criticized me more. Like when I read my old books I can think it's crazy that no one reacted and stopped me, haha.
Liv says she’s aware that the book is less theoretical than its predecessors, but that she wanted to write it for the simple reason that she thought it was fun. Maybe that's also one of the reasons Liv's readers forgive her for everything - she's funny. In Sweden, Liv is one of the few feminist icons who survived Metoo. Cissi Wallin, Linnea Claesson - as canceled as male the perpetrators. Those who are still considered to have some sort of relevance have, in most cases, become very skinny and renounced their feminist identity. So perhaps the “Liv-mania” has more to do with her humor and restraint from dictating people. A success sprung from portraying female experiences rather than lecturing on how to be a good feminist.
Although, Liv Strömquist's astrology doesn't portray the most relatable experiences. The book is populated by a gang of bizarre celebrities that are said to represent different zodiac signs. Aries’ Jane Goodall leaves society to join a pack of chimpanzees. Aquarius’ Chistioano Ronaldo decides to buy a baby for 10 million dollars. Rather than leaving you feeling any wiser about your zodiac sign, they come across as symptoms of a society that’s completely incomprehensible.Which could be said to be the core point of Liv’s book. In the last chapter, she includes sociologist Aris Komporozo's theory about The financialization of life. Due to our economy being built on an unpredictable stock market, we are used to risk and speculation. Therefore, we accept that Trump becomes president, that a hurricane arises or that our mood depends on the placement of Venus. Komporozos’ point is that the boom of astrology is not about wanting answers in times of uncertainty, but rather seeking models of explanation that imitates the unpredictable pattern of the stock market.
Liv Strömqvists Astrology has an open ending, also she refrains from giving answers. I ask her why.
L: Because, reality is like that. Or maybe it was just because I wanted to get my joke in at the end.
T: If there’s no point you want to make, should your book, just like astrology, be seen as an imitation of our unpredictable society?
L: You could say that. Yes it is, it is a reflection of a society that’s...difficult to interpret, haha.
The joke in the end of her book is very funny, the perfect comic relief in the Century of the self. Yet another way that astrology and Liv Strömqvist seem to have the same effect on people. Liv smiles mischievously, like some kind of Mona Lisa or ironic Meme Lord. It strikes me that “Liv-mania” is not that far from OCD after all. So, be aware of your Liv Strömqvist consumption ok?
Text by Jérémi Doucet, Miriam Haddad, Adam Bergström, Jérémi Doucet and Lucy Priest, Photography by Julia Eklund, Anete Osi,
Creative Direction by zsofi szabo
Paris is burning since forever. The civil unrest in France started three months ago against the controversial pension reform. The bill includes an increase of the retirement age from 62 to 64. Two years that could be seen as nothing is instead a symbol of the class difference ignored by the
politicians. While the richer are getting richer, Emmanuel Macron argues that the raise is needed because of economic issues. In April 2023 Macron with the court, forced the bill to pass and made at least three million French to take the street against the law. “On lâche rien” a French left-winged
slogan that can be heard at the manifestations, meaning “We're not giving up”, while the streets are on fire. The citizens have chosen to leave the public transport standing at the station, the students to skip class and the trash to mold on the street, to take the street together against the bill. We’ve
therefore, with the people who stand in opposition to the reform, collected material on the subject of political action.
Why America Needs a Garbage Strike: A Letter by Alexis de Tocqueville
In these difficult times, the city of Paris has been reduced to its medieval, hunchbacked condition. A crisis is at hand. The soft despotism of our president has led to an obstacle course of bakery packaging
in the streets of the Faubourg-Montmartre. So far, your embassy has been safe. But the grave of Jim Morrison might not be spared the unprecedented stink of duck breasts and camembert. It’s time to act.
In response to our leader’s abuse of sexagenarian rights, the tyranny of the majority has at last erupted. The offspring of Louis XIV have contaminated all our finest eau-de-toilette and turned Europe into a black, cold puddle. At night, the squatting ghost of Rimbaud paddles his drunken boat
through the plastic wrappers of the Seine. Even the best of us have fallen prey to the mighty stench. The republic of France needs your help. Democracy is in a critical condition, and if America is to live up to its ideals of freedom, now is the time to step up to its fate. We need a pastry-loving nation, a paragon of hope and righteousness, to free us from the grips of anarchy. To put it simply, my American friends, we need someone to pick up the trash.
As such, what I propose is this. For having included my humble essay in Buffalo University’s prestigious list of “40 Good Books,” I wish to grant you, America, the honour of inheriting and importing France’s garbage overseas. In our leftovers, I’m confident that your nation will find the
material it’s been seeking to revitalize the thrift shops of California, barricade The Capitol, and offer a banquet to the dumpster-diving suburbanites.
Moreover, my findings from 1835 showed that the irresistible revolution of democracy would soon fall prey to its own privilege. With social frustrations on the rise, the stink of a coast-to-coast garbage strike would be such that all issues regarding an imminent recession, the turpitudes of an ex-president, and the hubris of a billionaire space investor would slowly fade before the sweet, sweet nausea of such a wasteland. For a moment, the sour smell of the masses would reign over all states and individuals, in perfect equality.
For this heroic gesture. America, you would receive my endless, democratic gratitude.
P.S. The French government has commissioned me to investigate your prison system, again. And if you don’t want any of the unsavoury stuff to surface (and by that I mean anything at all) you know what to do.
Alexis de Tocqueville
« Nous n’avons pas vu le soleil se lever.
Ceci révèle à quel point nous sommes ego-centrés, ou peut-être juste déconcentrés? J’ai appris pendant ce peu de temps à aimer même les choses qui m’agacent chez toi: lorsque tu laisses de l’eau partout au sortir de ta douche, que tu transformes les mots sortant de ma bouche, que tes affaires
envahissent l’espace comme la pensée de ton être envahit mon espace mental, que tu dévastes ce qu’il reste de moi comme cyclone, responsable de ma soudaine dépression atmosphérique tropicale. Moi, aimer lorsque tu me fais si mal?
Repousser sans ménagement cette tendresse que je te porte, ne prendre que ce qui te plaît. Je n’ai pas vu ton regard changer. Les rais de lumière attaquent ma peau symbolique, caressant la tienne au passage.
Sept vagues frappèrent le rocher sur lequel je suis assis. Sept vagues qui selon ma grand mère, exorcisent peine et sorcellerie.
Puisque je meurs à petit feu, de la distance entre nous deux.
Nous n’avons pas vu le soleil se coucher, trop occupé à le voir se refléter dans tes yeux vairons ; taciturne je me perds dans ce regard tacheté de pourpre.
Reine égéenne de ma prise d’otage, comme enfermé entre deux pages. Submergé par ces sentiments sensationnels je songe à singer sobrement l'indifférence, synonyme chez moi de trop plein émotionnel. Chercher midi à quatorze heure, l’après midi t’offrir des fleurs. Fusion concrète qui me regarde, aller en crête y prendre garde. Comme les Cyclades former un cercle, me protégeant de tes sorts nets.
Sept vagues frappèrent le rocher sur lequel je suis assis. Sept vagues qui selon ma grand mère, exorcisent peine et sorcellerie. Je regarde à ma gauche et plus rien ne me dis. C’est souvent avec toi que je ris?
Puisque je meurs à petit feu, de la distance entre nous deux.
Nous sommes à l’aube d’un monde qui change, il n’empêche que nos images dérangent. Lorsque je passe sur le quai, reflets d’emprise qu’un fil abime.
Elle passe lentement ; me fait la bise. Son odeur ; odeur de brise. L’aimer encore ; vaste enterprise. »
Jag stiger upp och klär på mig mina vanliga kläder klär på mig mitt vanliga jag.
Morgonrutinen exakt klockad. Jag har fem minuter med kaffet framför fönstret.
Det regnar ute, med täta, tysta droppar. Ett sådant regn som börjar om natten längst inne i stadens djupsömn. Och utan att ha sett några prognoser vet man att det ska fortsätta så dag efter dag.
Jag betraktar en lyftkrans arbete i dimman. Den rör sig långsamt, lastens svarta punkt glider fram över hustak där en doft av eld
redan vittnar om de tidigt vakna. Silhuetten av en människa i förarhytten
har samma färg som dagen.
Och regnet påminner mig om Bachs gråskalor deras ömhet inför livets ständiga halvdanhet, de som säger till mig: du kan få vara utan sång
du kan lägga din stumhet på oss.
Det finns en Bach bortom passioner och mässor. Det finns en cembalons halvbrustna ton och kontrapunktens allvarliga lek, allvarliga småprat i gråbleka kammare.
Jag håller mig till dem. Jag lägger min stumhet på dem. Som när en visa man gnolar på lite falskt för sig själv ändå till slut blir det som bär en genom dagen.
le samedi 18 mars
When I sit in myself and watch the greatest movie ever forgiven you jerk into framerates I forget to forget about and forge new soundbites that I can chew for crying out loud. When the old French ladies trade images and make their closeness visible you clothesline the spokes of my Tour de
France until I forget to forget to talk about love. Whatever that dream was has become breath and the bread of some pagan prophetess. I’m telling you that sleep itself is the body you left behind (that I left on rewind). And the unshareable page in the slap of daylight where you ripple oceans or is that hell. It’s a simple concept and it’s a flood. Ask the philosophers if the universal becomes the peculiar. They will watch your violence speak. Ask a stranger how much he spends on our daily visits and if our freedom sheds a flower of its own. He will hatch doorknobs in the dark.
le mercredi 5 avril
I don’t want to stomp puddles anymore. I want to talk about the sound of these voices and the rubble of our newness. Not another parable. It’s time to talk our way around a conversation, to a place of fear and spring, without promise, outside of time, as a reminder of what happens when I
miss the mark. You are far away and the obvious stands between each beginning. I don’t want to talk about any other discovery. My fears and my ferocities and a rotten poem sold for thirty dollars to no one. I left you to grow your own home in the sun of a fantasy, and you’ve been good to your
ruin. You’ve been busier than expected and all tooth and wing. I hold you in the underneath and whisper your oldest sunrise when I walk through the park.
le dimanche 9 avril
I’ve cut the angles of your humour out of my internet. I’m not sure what to do with the study of speech other than celebrate the occasional nod. It could be anyone nodding, but it tends to be a sob that sort of looks like you. With my old binoculars that throw darts of hope in the general direction
of Rome (not unlike the mystics who always pray in the direction of their grave). One day no one will read this. It will have turned sour, like the once-upon-a-times left to rot in the bottom of a backpack. My voice will be condescending, rude. It will be too liquid for the Carrara marble you’ve
gotten used to. If I could put on my red shoes and go to the wolves I wouldn’t be here. If I could spell your name out in the middle of a rock, I wouldn’t bother with language. It’s because of your smallest levitations that I know we’re on the right path.
ce soir là
les rues berçaient mille flammes
je marchais seule
quand je l’ai vu
de regards creux
de ceux qui ont choisi de perdre leurs mots
odieux dans leurs actes
ils éteignaient en peu de gestes
peu de temps
les cœurs de ceux qui osent
trois à terre
la violence règne
le sang coule
mais quand s’arrêteront ils ?
my country is at war
people against the system
freedom against repression
is what we demand
to be heard
is all we ask
but they turn their heads
is all we are
to the man
who holds society in the palm of his hand
beautiful in their union
but remain unheard
day and night
for their rights
for their country
struggling for a better tomorrow
or maybe a better end
over the people of the dark
you could hear their screams
night and day
echoing in the repression
the word creeps to my lips
as i see a fist touch his face
as blood spills
he’s lying unconscious on the floor
an army of empty souls surrounding him
stops their arms
stops their violence
creeps through my body
my knees shake
so i run
numbs my limbs
that next time it would be me
Piles of emotions
[Anete Osi and Zsofi Szabo]
The shooting was a result of a very nuanced situation that had a big effect on our lives, and that was the current political, economical and sociological crisis France has been going through. With our team, we were aiming to create images that reflect on the controversial nature of the mobilisation,
without having the need to make any form of statement through the images. These moments are mere reflections of extremely nuanced and painful events, hoping to make people think about their point of views, privileges and opinions about the current situation.
The köttberg of Marais
Text by Julia Eklund, Photography by Julia Eklund
As I walk the streets of Marais, I hear five different languages (including mine) and see people in outfits that are more compatible to be seen taking the metro rather than walking (exclusive to me). Close to Square du Temple, the jewel designer Marguerite Bones works in a shared atelier. From the
vis à vis has she slowly got to know who lives in the building across from her while taking her cigarette breaks.
M: I found this atelier through a paper ad. It used to be an old Chinese atelier, they received readymade pieces from China that they put together here. So you can always find fake diamonds and other things they used if you lift up the stones on the floor.
In 2016, Bones found herself in Amsterdam to continue her bachelor in graphic design, but after a week she quit to start the basic year in order to specialize with a bachelor's in the jewelry department. It was possible her nature as an Aries, the “head on approach” of the horn, drove her desire to dive into a new challenge.
M: I needed to do something else, and the school in Amsterdam was very liberating for me. It was so different from the French system. I knew I had an interest in the body so the jewelry department which is called Jewelry linking body intrigued me. But I had no clue I liked small stuff. In my first
year I only did performance art haha.
Her first jewelry collection emerged from an experiment of not eating meat for a couple of months. It might sound trivial but for Bones, who wanted to become a butcher as a kid, it was an experience that made her reflect on the quality and the aesthetic aspects of meat. Her love for eating meat conflicted with the violence in the meat production industry, not to mention coming to terms with the concept of eating another living creature.
M: Meat interested me a lot but in the beginning I only did big 3D sculptures in silicon that kind of resembled flesh that people would tear apart. I liked the connection between the skin and the metal. But then I realized that instead of making big sculptures I could just hang them on people's ears and have them walk around with them.
The different creations by Bones can be found in Vogue Netherland, on artists like Naomi Sharon or in the shop in Amsterdam run by the collective The Pool. The artists styled with Bones’ jewelry are impressive photoshoots often with a y2k gaze and a futuristic style that feels right in time.
M: I get really proud when I see others wearing my jewelry. For me, it’s a language that is not spoken. It's a connection through shape or an attraction for the same things. That’s also why I started doing different stuff. Some pieces are easy for people to connect with while others are peculiar and more difficult. And how does it feel to let go of them? This is why I decided to work in series. I have one piece that I only did one of and I sold it. And I still miss it today. The fact that I know I can reproduce them makes me feel better.
The presence of the body and the flesh is reflected early in Bones’ work. Her performance in 2017, Transparent Skin, the audience is facing a glass cube with a small fire in front of it. Four people in nightgowns, their bodies pressed against the glass, touching each other, touching the skin-like
quadrats hanging from the ceiling and throwing themselves against the mattress. The same feeling is found in her examen project which contains of garments in mixed material. The use of leather and silver makes her pieces feel meaty and cold but still inviting.
M: To be able to feel your body is very intriguing, to feel hunger, anger, desire. How can this material hold so many things? How can it be alive? For me, jewelry is a tool to dig into the flesh and find out where they come from.
Bones’ creations have an agenda to heal and protect the wearer. Her corset is built almost like armor. Comfortable with its elastic band to not be restrained to the heroin chic ideal, but also decorated with spikes that prevent you from crossing your arm across your chest. For her, it was a way to work with her insecurities and materialize the abstract feeling of anxiety. The arrow, one of Bones' signum, is sprung from this experience of vulnerability.
M: Creating is a way for me to get a hold of my anxiety. Emotions can be so heavy and take a lot of room but they can also give a lot. The arrow is a clear symbol of this. The thorn of an arrow isn't something you want around your neck or wrist, because it can hurt you. At the same time, it's so
fragile, if you take it from the side you can just break it. I like this paradox.
One can imagine that Bones found some of her inspiration in the 15th century for her early work. The corset takes the price, but also her use of leather and the size of some of her jewelry from 2019 resembles more of a shield from medieval warfare. During this time period, art and literature were strongly influenced by the seven deadly sins. It’s a categorization within the Catholic church of certain behavior or habits that are believed to cause a vicious spiral that could lead to a spiritual death. Still today can the seven deadly sins be found in pop culture. The ongoing topic inspired one of the best-selling manga Nanatsu no Taizai (The seven deadly sins) by Nakaba Suzuki. For Bones' part, with the medieval inspiration as well as the use of hyper-digital photos, the immortal theme fitted for her collaboration with the artist Roxane Mbanga.
M: I was in my twenties and as for many I went away from my family, created new relationships, did some bad things to people, did some good things to others. I reflected a lot on what morality and respect is. To do so I had to understand the Catholic way of looking at the world. I’m kind of raised in a Catholic family and even though I don’t agree with everything I found a philosophical interest in it. My mom has this kind of relationship with catholicism that I like. The principle of generosity andaime ton prochain come toi-même is something I strive for as well.
It can be seen in Bone's way of working that she tries to live as she learns. In the same way the body is present in her work, is her way of working anything but separated from people. She has done several collaborations, organized exhibitions with other jewelry designers and is a part of the creative collective The Pool in Amsterdam. In a world riding on the individualism stream, Bones seems to turn the other way.
M: I mean of course I want it to go well for me, I’m an Aries after all haha. But I know that if I’d be all alone in this I wouldn’t make it. So I try not to be jealous, I try to be sharing, even if it’s not possible all the time. But I really believe in the collective and that we can succeed together.
Photography by Nora Persson
This is my first fictional film project. The film and process of its making was and is personal.
Above the Mine
Photography by Théo Audoire and Lova Karlsson, Sound by Julia Eklund, Visual Effects by Noé Charreyron
Following Stella Explorer through water, weed and a fire at Soho-House
Text by Tova Olsson, Photography by Julia Eklund
It’s April 2022, Stella Explorer is standing on one of the highest points in Paris, Parc de Belleville, and watches the red horizon burn the rooftops before her eyes. Last minute, she turned down a 50k music video made for her single Goldrush. Now, she finds herself in Paris with a friend and a camera to make one of her own. The girl on the hill has walked a winding road to get here, but with the city of dreams at her feet she might have felt that Goldrush was going to give her fame and fortune. Or something like that. Our conversation came to be about what holds you back (love) and what allows you to move forward (throwing kebab).
S: I was smoking a joint at home and it was like a bolt of lightning struck me “I can't release this music video. This is not me, I cannot stand for this.” So I messaged my friend Lukas: "What should I do, I just wasted a video". By chance, we were both going to Paris, so he replied: "I’ll bring my camera, we'll work it out".
The interview with Stella takes place on Zoom. I'm sitting in a friend's apartment in Paris, with huge headphones and my screen as the only source of light. Stella is lying on a sofa at Soho-house in Stockholm. An old church converted into a creative center for artists. Initially, the idea was to meet up
and eat oysters, now the vibe is more LAN.*
* Local Area Network. Basically, twelve year olds gaming together round-the-clock.
T: What was it about your own video that felt better?
S: What didn't work with their video was that this was supposed to be an early presentation of my music. Their video was very nice but it wasn't my video. They did a great job, I just hadn’t thought through what I wanted. Even though I take all the blame, being a creator means that you can and
should control the image of yourself. Many don't understand the importance of that. Unfortunately, this time it came with a big sacrifice.
T: Do you feel in control of your own brand now? What kind of image do you want to present?
S: I think it's really about it not being someone else's story. I don't think they understood what the song was about. The video that we made is much more in line with the song's theme.
Goldrush is written as a sequel to her single Kill it before it dies. Both were inspired by the fate of Annika Östberg, a Swedish woman who grew up in the United States. When Annika ran away from home at the age of 16, she met an older guy on a motorcycle and fell in love. The story ends with him
pleading guilty to killing someone and them both sentenced to life in prison; Annika for being an accessory to the murder since she happened to sit next to him in the car.
T: What was it about Annika that you found inspiring?
S: I became obsessed with love and what it does to you. I feel that if I fall in love I lose all control. And many with me, but there are some who don’t. There is this sane form of love that I can't relate to. It’s always fascinated me, the power it has. I was very sick and started reading about Annika, she
became such a good example of... where you can end up.
T: Do you easily fall in love? Or is it rather that it takes over when it happens?
S: It totally takes over. I can't control myself at all. I have a hard time keeping two things in my head at the same time. I can screw up a lot of things that I really want to do, that I have to do. I don't want it that way. I feel like I have to be careful, which isn't so much fun.
An alarm goes off at Soho-house.
T: Maybe you should get out of the building? That's not a good sign.
S: Okay, wait.
Stella puts on her jacket and heads out into the hallway. There is a fire in the old church, people flock to the exit. Eventually, she gets out and heads towards Old Town. Snow is falling in the background.
S: Goldrush is not about love, although I would like it to be. The theme is men's power over women. I wanted to illustrate... I wanted to be angry. In the music video, I take some guy’s kebab and throw it on the ground.
T: It was so funny, I’m sorry, I thought it was fun.
S: But it's fun! We had a lot of fun. And we were very very high.
T: It usually turns out well when you are?
S: I wanted to take back power. Lukas and I went into a random hotel and met a guy in the elevator in the middle of the night. We were stoned and said to each other that we loved his energy.
T: That's how you met the guy you play against in the video?
S: Yeah haha. We had discussed a lot of different ideas and then we met him and agreed that he had to be in it. He is so fucking beautiful. He had said what room he was staying in, and to message him on Instagram. He answered: “Come to Gare du Nord tonight.”
T: So fucking funny, haha.
S: So we just drove around in his car all night.
T: It's something completely different from the expensive video you blew haha...
S: For sure. And that was a little cleansing. I needed to let go of my ideas about what my label might have expected from me. I felt like I was taking back control.
The record label Stella refers to is YEAR0001, where artists such as Yung Lean and Viagra Boys are signed. A collaboration that emerged from Stella realizing that she and her former band Brödet didn’t share the same visions for the future. Back then, she gave herself a year to learn how to write
choruses, short songs and to finish projects. If she didn't succeed, she made a vow to never forgive herself. However, by the end of the year, she had made the demo to Goldrush and sent it to several labels. But just when she had taken the first step towards a solo career, her hard drive crashed. None
of what she had created could be saved.
S: I lost everything. But that same week, YEAR0001 got in touch. I saw it as a sign that I was going to do it all over again and I was going to do it well.
On my screen, I see my hometown pass by behind Stella's face. She is on her way to Södermalm where she is going to meet a friend, the vibe of the interview is a follow me around vlog. It somehow fits, in Stella's music there is always Movement. In her videos: people riding in cars, dogs running etc. It does something to the listener. With her music in my ears I have been running forward in life: through steep alleys in Italy, over mountains in the Arctic, along Götgatan in Stockholm. But it’s a movement with no return. And without faith in the future.
T: I think of a line in Kill it before it dies: “I don't think about the future and I don't believe in crystals.”
S: The whole text is literally a movement. Point A to point B. While Stella finished writing the song, she was at an exhibition by Marina Abramovic. Stella tells me how inspired she got by the piece The Lovers. She’s referring to Marina's breakup performance where she and her ex-husband Ulay walked from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China. After 90 days they met in the middle, which marked the end of their 12-year relationship.
S: How powerful is that? They just move until they stop and then it's over.
T: I think it shows a lack of belief in the future?
Stella's phone is dying and she goes into a hotel lobby to charge it. I pour myself some Sprite from my friend's fridge, Stella orders a half-pint.
S: Did I sound rude to the waiter?
T: No. But he seemed a little confused.
S: Okay, good. Sometimes I think I sound too harsh.
As the name suggests, Stella Explorer has always been moving towards something. Not always with music as the goal, but sometimes seemingly straight into nothingness. I’m referring to outer space and university. Although Stella comes from a family of musicians they forbid her from studying it, as a way to protect her.
S: I tried to do other things. I took lots of jobs, in one year I had eleven. I tried studying Aesthetics.
T: Haha, I did an Aesthetics course and had five different jobs last year.
In some ways, Stella's story is a relatable one about being young, in other ways, she’s drawn to the extreme. Back in 2015, she applied for an open call to leave for good to a Mars settlement built by NASA. Luckily for planet Earth she didn’t make the cut, but she keeps seeking remote places.
Time and time again, Stella chooses detours. Everything to avoid being controlled by parents, record labels or love. Like a never-ending paraphrase of walking the Great Wall of China, she hard-handedly steers herself away from the path she feels is expected of her to follow. The stakes are high: it costs a music video and if she doesn't reach her goals, she has no mercy for herself. Maybe that's why there is determination and care in what she does and how she expresses herself, as if she’s watching her every step.
S: I have stolen my motto in life from Flea in Red Hot Chili Peppers: "I'm very serious about having fun".
Eventually, the road led her to reach what she deep down always wanted, to be able to make a living off her music. More concretely put: Goldrush got her a label, recognition, and a Swedish grammy nomination. I ask her if the song also changed things on a personal level.
S: Hm, not really. I'm still sitting in my living room writing music. Or I’m lying on my floor because my back hurts, with the computer upside down, programming the drums. I listen to the same music. Everything is as usual. I still have doubts about whether I can write music. But then you do it anyway and it's just as much fun.
Right now, Stella is in the process of releasing her second album.
T: Tell me about it, you’ve said that there is a concept?
S: It wasn't the idea from the beginning but with time a theme emerged. I noticed that I talk about water in every song. All the songs feel blue. I've imagined that if I was underwater listening to music, at a party under water or something, this could be played there. I don't know why I've imagined that but I've read a lot about Atlantis. When I finished writing the songs, I was in the middle of a breakup where I felt that I was completely stuck in my own head. I couldn't communicate, I didn't have access to my emotions. It felt like I was stuck under the water’s surface. Then, I found a girl who I wanted to make the album cover and she made a drawing of me standing on water. Everything got a common thread as time went by.
Stella has reached her destination for tonight, she is in front of the bar where she’s meeting her friend. This marks the end of the interview/vlog on life and death. It’s been fun to follow her journey. Stella navigates through life as she navigates through Stockholm: like a force of nature.
T: In what headspace are you now, mentally and creatively?
S: Mentally, unclear. I need an injection of something. I know this feeling, it’s familiar. I need to get away and see new things.
I’m about to say that I hope she finds what she’s looking for, but then again I would never wish for her to refrain from movement.
Art by Lucien Jones
Klara Keller: Man måste vara någonstans för att saker ska hända / Klara Keller: Il faut bien être quelquepartpour les choses arrivent
Text by Tova Olsson, Photography by Julia Eklund
In mid-December we met the Swedish singer Klara Keller at Bouillon Julien, her favorite place in Paris. She was running late in a chic Carrie Bradshaw kind of way - when she arrived at the restaurant we had already opened the affordable/shitty bottle of wine. Klara told me and my
photographer that it was her boyfriend at the time who showed her the brasserie. He had said he knew the perfect place to celebrate her birthday - and it turned out he was right. With her music studio just around the corner, she ended up spending many nights under the high glass ceilings at Bouillon Julien.
K: I remember the first time I came to this street. I was like “What is this place?! This is so fucking intense. So rough but also so gentrified and artsy. It's like...everything`”
Almost two years have passed since then and a lot has happened. In 2022 she moved back to Sweden for the release and tour of her second album BANG. We now meet up to have dessert and talk about
why she once let the stars guide her to Paris.
In Klara Keller's career, there is a before and an after Paris. In Sweden in 2018, she became known as a rising star on the indie scene. Her debut EP was nominated for the Swedish Grammy and the Nordic Music Prize. So when she decided to move to Paris and start the process of making her second album she was expected to step up as the rightful heir of Håkan Hellström.* Or at least to produce the same Swedish pop for which she had made herself a name back home. But instead, she found herself in a
context that completely rewrote the rules - far away from her usual audience in some kind of creative frenzy. While her first EP took her three years to make, BANG was made in three months. Even though she produced it completely on her own. She pours herself a glass of wine and says that she had mixed feelings about sharing an EP that ended up being exactly what the title BANG implies. Something completely different.
K: I wanted the track I could never give it to you first, because it introduces something new. Like “Wtf is going on”.
* Swedish King of Indiepop :)
Klara had planned to stay in Paris for one month but arrived with a huge suitcase. It was as if she unconsciously knew that she was going to stay longer. Behind her in Sweden, she left a stable relationship and everyone she usually worked with.
K: It was such a huge thing to just cut, but it was what I really wanted. My life was so extremely settled. I had lived in Stockholm and just needed to...cut.
After a few weeks, she got herself a boyfriend and ended up moving into his squat in Montmartre. It was an abandoned hotel that they shared with a bunch of other artists and friends. Klara tells me how they used to walk around in nightgowns in the covid-empty, tourist quarters around Sacre Coeur.
K: I felt like “God, this is just what I’ve been looking for!” I got the feeling that there weren’t any rules. I don’t know what it's like generally, but where I lived with my people there were really no weekdays or weekends, no schedule. I thought it was so nice to live like that. I just walked to my
studio every day and became so creative. I had made a setup for myself where I wouldn’t do anything else than exactly that.
Klara keeps coming back to how she needed a change. How she had longed for a break-even point that could force her into a new direction.
T: Was that need to break free something new, or just a part of who you are?
K: I’ve always been that way. But I don’t think people have known that side of me, haha.
I ask Klara if she ever hesitated that she made the right choices. After a moment of silence, she says that she did, but at the same time, she always had a strong gut feeling for the direction she needed to go. A gut feeling that seems to consist of a strong faith to follow her own impulses, and a trust in letting the energies around her lead the way.
K: The decision to move to Paris for example. I just wanted to get out and go somewhere. The thing is that I’ve been going to an astrologist for a long while and-
T: Oh! Have you?! Which star sign are you?
K: I’m Cancer. Or Cancer and Aquarius and Sagittarius. So a little bit of everything. Except for earth signs.
T: Hmm alright I usually fuck with earth signs. I’m Pieces so we get along well.
K: Nope no earth in me.
T: Too bad.
K: But anyways, he showed me a map with cities that crossed my sunlines.
T: What does that mean? That the energies are good in those places?
K: Yes, exactly. And I wanted to find somewhere that was good for my creativity. First, he said pretty random places, like Saltzburg or Poland. And haha okay I thought why not.
T: Saltzburg makes sense though, like Mozart?
K: Yes haha. But then he also said Paris, so I knew that was an option too. And I thought I could give it a try. To just start somewhere.
Even though BANG introduced a new chapter in Klara’s life, it also meant returning home. So much about BANG and how it was made seems new and bold, but in some sense, it was also the way back
to how she’s always done things. Her producing and personal lyrics might be new to her audience but has in fact existed in Klara for a long time. She tells me she’s been writing a diary all of her life and
that it’s the very root of her music making. Her creativity still stems from her personal writing, she describes how she sees her life in chapters divided after the music she’s made. The professional and
the personal are always intertwined.
K: My choices follow my music. I can close the door to a specific chapter in my life when an album is finished. It goes hand in hand.
Eventually, there came a time when Klara needed to move back home to Stockholm. The door to Paris closed behind her, she was back in her old room at her parents’ house. Out of money and still not knowing when the album was going to be released.
K: It was horrible coming home to Sweden. You get like depressed, sadly. Last spring was a bit of a crisis honestly.
K: Like everything feels boring when you’ve been in this super fun, buzzing city. It's also not fun feeling like things aren’t fun. You don’t want to shut down energies. You want to be connected, for stuff to come your way.
But, as her saying goes, you have to be somewhere for things to happen. In the course of time, they did, also in Sweden. In September 2022 the EP BANG was released, at the time of the interview it had 300k listenings on Spotify. The release was followed by Klara Keller's first ever tour, she sang the songs she had made in her studio next to Bouillon Julien to her Swedish audience. If she once used to long to break free, it was now the merge of her worlds that she was looking for.
K: My time in Paris really taught me how cool it is to share energies. And just jam together. And experience things together. That’s something I’ve really taken with me back to Sweden. In that way I am much more... open now. Intuitive.
T: It sounds fun?
K: Yes! It is -
The waiter interrupts us with our desserts. We don’t mind. A move back to Sweden, a relationship and an EP later Klara is back at Bullion Julien having the same crème brulée. Maybe it’s a sign she’s carrying the freedom she found in Paris within her, not needing to change her ways to feel free. Or maybe some habits die hard.