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MUSIC

Sweden’s own ‘Adele’: I didn’t like my own voice

In his latest column on Swedish music, Paul Connolly catches up with Miriam Bryant, a Gothenburg-based singer often compared to Adele and who, despite her rising fame, still takes time to do her own laundry.

Sweden's own 'Adele': I didn't like my own voice

Sweden recently seems to have generated an almost obscene number of fantastic female-fronted electronica acts. Lune, Frida Sundemo and Kate Boy are the cream of the current electronica crop but there has been one artist who has generated much more Swedish media froth than these three put together – and she’s not even Swedish.

SEE ALSO: Paul Connolly’s five best Swedish songs of 2012

Miriam Bryant is a Gothenburg-based English-Finnish singer who, on the surface at least, has more in common with Adele’s British take on bluesy pop than Robyn’s precision-tooled electronic pop. Certainly the hype surrounding Bryant’s just-released debut album, Raised In Rain, has a whiff of the early excitement that greeted Adele five years ago.

The assured 22-year-old isn’t getting carried away, though. When I speak to her, she hasn’t just left a champagne-soaked after-party or interrupted a dinner party with new film star buddies.

“I wish,” she laughs.

“I’m in Stockholm and I’ve just done my laundry.”

When I ask her if she’s already getting bored of the interminable promo circus that’s required of any major album release she again laughs easily: “Haha, no. I’m enjoying it so far. It’s keeping me very busy but I still have time to get my washing done.”

Bryant, the daughter of an English father and a Finnish mother, seems happy with the comparisons to Adele.

“It can be annoying but people are comparing me to one of the world’s most talented singers so I take it as a compliment. Adele has an absolutely stunning voice. But at the end of the day we do have quite different sounds,” she says.

SEE ALSO: Paul Connolly’s five best Swedish albums of 2012

Bryant’s assertion is correct. Finders Keepers, the first single from Raised In Rain, bears a strong resemblance to Adele’s output – it’s a hearty, meaty pop-soul song with a big hook and emotion a-plenty.

Bryant’s single Finders Keepers

But it’s also notable for Bryant’s slightly more versatile voice – she may not be able to boom it out a la Adele but she’s able to fleck her creamy voice with little bits of vocal grit. It’s a surprisingly effective tool and one that marks her out as a really accomplished singer.

Indeed, it’s such a captivating effect that you assume Bryant spent years perfecting her vocal technique. But no.

“When I was younger I the last thing I wanted to do was sing in front of people, and so never did it. I really did not like my singing voice,” she explains.

“But now I have come to a stage where I think I’m good. And it feels great.”

Although Bryant is not even a Swedish citizen, she insists her adopted country’s education system has played a major role in her development as an artist.

SEE ALSO: Ten Swedish bands that’ll knock your socks off

“Sweden is my home and it’s a great country to live in. The best things about Sweden is that it has a very big music scene and has a very wide range of different educations in terms of culture,” she says.

“You can do pretty much anything you like from a very early age. For example, I was in a choir school from the age of nine, and then in high school I chose a musical theatre profile.”

Which traits of the English and Finnish do you identify with?

“I really don’t know. I guess I’m very honest and straightforward. I’m also easy-going, but also I can be very loud. I love football and am a big England supporter. And I love people and beer. But I have a dark and melancholic side as well as a positive way of looking at life. I never say no to a nice cup of tea and I love a sauna bath once in a while.”

One final question – are you ready for fame?

Bryant laughs again: “Yeah, bring it on!”

April Album of the Month

Artist: Nord & Syd

Album: Som en människa

Hybris/Border

The concept of ‘indie pop’ has long been meaningless. For years now it’s meant either lumpen, dull lad rock or excruciatingly self-aware tuneless noodlings masquerading as experimentation. Whatever manifestation it’s taken, it’s rarely been interesting.

So when I came across this, the debut album by Nord & Syd, a northern Swedish indie ‘supergroup’ formed by the, ahem, luminaries of various indie bands, my expectations were lower than the belly of a champion limbo-dancing snake.

I certainly wasn’t expecting the most polished Swedish pop album I’ve heard all year.

Now ‘polished’ is not always a compliment. Too often it’s a synonym for bloodless. But Nord & Syd’s grasp of pop dynamics is so astonishingly firm, their ability to write whopping big tunes so well developed, that their ultra smooth edges are forgivable. Indeed songs such as Men åh and Inte idag have such memorable melodies that you instantly think you’ve heard them before (in Men åh’s case that may be true – the verse does bear an uncanny resemblance to Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl). Oh, and don’t worry about the lyrics being in Swedish. Julia Hanberg’s voice is so crystal clear you can always count the album as a module of your SFI course.

Other recommended albums:

Artist: Hastpjoken

Album: En magisk tanke

Sweden’s answer to Crowded House.

Artist: Lissi Dancefloor Disaster

Album: Waves

Intermittently brilliant dance-pop.

Artist: Makthaverskan

Album: Makthaverskan II

Eighties-influenced scuffed indie torch songs.

April Gig of the Month

Event: Umeå Open 2013

Date: Monday, April 1 – Saturday April 6

Venue: Umeå – various venues

This year’s Open has another great line-up. From The Local favourites, Frida Sundemo and Faye, through to more established acts such as Mando Diao and Cult of Luna, this terrific little festival features some of the best contemporary Swedish music.

For more information visit the www.umeaopen.se.

Paul Connolly

Read more from Paul here, including his Northern Dispatch column

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MUSIC

What are the best concerts in Sweden this autumn?

Now that Sweden has lifted its audience restrictions for public events, The Local's Paul O'Mahony lists his recommendations for the best gigs to attend over the coming months.

Crowd at a music concert in Debaser, Stockholm
Crowds return to Stockholm venue Debaser after pandemic restrictions on events were lifted. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden’s musicians, concert promoters and venue operators have struggled to varying degrees through the pandemic. One surefire way to help get them back on their feet is to give organisers and artists the financial reassurance they need by pre-booking concerts. 

Of course these recommendations only apply if you feel safe attending large events; remember that you should stay home and take a Covid-19 test if you experience any symptoms that could be linked to the virus, even if vaccinated. And make sure to check with organisers if there are any specific coronavirus requirements you need to be aware of. 

Coming up: top gigs in Sweden over the next few months 

As a regular gig-goer, live music is the one thing I’ve missed most over the past year and a half. So it is with some excitement (and, I’ll admit, a degree of trepidation) that I prepare to go see Norwegian band Pom Poko this Friday at Hus 7 in Stockholm. Their melodic art-punk album Cheater sparked the year into life on its release in January. They’re also playing Plan B in Malmö on Saturday night

Plan B is also the venue when Squid hit Sweden with a thrilling dose of post-punk on October 15th. Tickets remain available for the show at the time of writing (an absolute steal at 120 kronor), though that’s sadly not the case in Stockholm where their October 16th gig at Melodybox sold out a long time ago. (Although you can sign up to be added to a waiting list). 

Another artist well worth checking out in October is Gothenburg guitarist and singer Amanda Werne, better known as Slowgold. Her live shows are great and she is embarking on a Swedish tour on October 8th. 

Emma-Jean Thackray, one of the UK’s most interesting jazz artists, will be at Fasching in Stockholm on October 15th

For the best kind of sonic assault, Anna von Hasswolff’s band Bada are scheduled to play in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg in late October. 

Have any of you ever seen Gothenburg electronic veterans Little Dragon live? I haven’t but might check them out in November when they swing by Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg

Amason are also heading out on the road for a Scandinavian tour in November. If you haven’t heard Amanda Bergman’s voice in a live setting before this will be a treat. 

The inimitable Sibille Attar released her superb second album A History of Silence at the start of the year and she’s finally getting the chance to play her eighties-inspired gems live at Slaktkyrkan in Stockholm on November 18th

Cassandra Jenkins long lurked in the background as a musician in touring bands for people like Eleanor Friedberger and Purple Mountains. But this year’s album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature has really established her as an artist to be reckoned with in her own right. She’s coming to Södra Teatern in Stockholm on November 26th

Always popular in this part of the world, The Jesus and Mary Chain return to Sweden for dates in Stockholm and Gothenburg at the end of November

Wry Finland-Swedish indie outfit Vasas Flora och Fauna have some of the funniest (Swedish) lyrics and catchiest tunes around. They’ll be in Stockholm and Gothenburg the first weekend of December

UK experimental rockers Black Midi are also playing Stockholm and Gothenburg on December 4th and 5th. So prepare to travel if you want to catch both them and Vasas Flora and Fauna. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Bob Hund’s annual ‘week 48’ show also takes place on December 4th. But that has been sold out for ages so no decisions to make there. It is also worth noting though that Sweden’s hardest working band has also written a musical that’s going to be performed in Helsingborg (October-November) and Gothenburg (November)

Bonus: For a post-Christmas pick-me-up try to get down to Little Simz at Slaktkyrkan on January 14th if you’re in Stockholm. The UK rapper’s new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is one of this year’s best releases. 

Selected artists playing Sweden in 2022: Henry Rollins, Sarah Klang, Yann Tiersen, Mogwai, Pearl Charles, Wolf Alice, Lloyd Cole, Lord Huron, Future Islands, Josh Rouse + Vetiver, Tricky, Snail Mail, Porridge Radio, Aldous Harding, Shame, The Kooks, The War on Drugs, Echo and the Bunnymen, Kings of Convenience, Fontaines D.C., Alex Cameron, Lucy Dacus, The Divine Comedy, Mdou Moctar, Iggy Pop, Chubby and the Gang, Sparks, Belle & Sebastian, The National, Sharon Van Etten, Teenage Fanclub, Tindersticks, Suede, Viagra Boys, Pavement. 

For bigger arena shows, Ticketmaster covers a lot of the bases. Big-name acts with gigs in the offing include Ed Sheeran, Zara Larsson, Whitesnake and, lest we forget, ABBA

And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on. Tour schedules are busier than ever now that artists are finally getting back on the road. To keep track of what gigs are coming up I can recommend checking in with Luger, FKP Scorpio, and Live Nation. Follow your favourite venues too: sometimes they cut out the middleman and do their own booking and promotion. I also use the Bandsintown app, which comes with the added bonus of receiving messages from your favourite artists which let you pretend to be their friend. 

Enjoy the gigs, and stay safe! 

Paul O’Mahony is editorial product manager at The Local. In his spare time he plays the best new indie and alternative music as host of the Signals show on Nerve Music.

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