Sometimes, you just wanna bury yourself.
No not literally, but face it. We all have those moments where in a 75 to 25 serious to joking manner we’re like “is this gonna stop yet?”. It’s human, and thankfully, eventually we’re able to laugh at or make light of them. That would be the exact attitude Swedish rocker Linn Koch-Emmery is doling out with her newest single “Linn RIP”. It’s a tongue-in-cheek nu-rock pop tune with an emo to quirk ratio as healthy as gods of the niche like Weezer or All-American Rejects. It’s the second of a slew of singles which are directly off the Linn’s forthcoming debut album which is due out later this year. With a classic rock ‘n’ roll playbook and modern pop production approaches, she’s definitely onto something, and she was nice enough to catch up with C-Heads to talk about it.
You started releasing music in 2016. Were you in any bands or production teams before that?
I started out playing in a band with my sister and two of my best friends in high school. Lea (my twin sister) and Josefine (my best friend) both moved to the UK shortly there after. Lea formed Kid Wave and Josefine is currently playing in the band Los Bitchos, who I’m also supposed to tour with when we’re out of this situation. I’ve been playing guitar and bass for a few artists before, but I figured I’m better at writing my own songs than playing solos.
Being a rock artist in Scandinavia, what is that like? It seems there’s a bit of a rock resurgence going on right now.
Scandinavia is great for indie rock since it’s pretty much dark and cold all year around. Perfect place to become depressed and write songs about it! Comes very naturally.
Being a small artist, but in Sweden, where it’s a smaller pond than the US or UK – what’s it like being a Swedish artist in Sweden?
You’ve seen the E4 (the main highway that stretches from the north of Sweden all the way down to Germany) a lot. It is hard to survive as an indie artist, at least in my genre I feel, by just touring in Sweden. There are only really 3 main touring stops. But the distances in Europe are quite close, you can drive down to Germany or Denmark to extend a tour. Also the Germans seem to love guitar music!
Yeah, I get that. It would be like in the US if you could only tour one state. Let’s say New York. You’d have a few shows in the city, and then a few small club shows in towns like Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, and that would be it.
What has Sweden’s relationship been like with rock music over the past three decades?
It’s good! Like every country we have our own rock ‘n’ roll legends, there was a lot of great music coming from Sweden in the 00’s. Growing up I was listening to bands like Shout Out Louds, Broder Daniel and Bad Cash Quartet.
Writing lyrics in English, when it’s your second language – it’s always amazing to me how some people can do it so well, what is that like? Do you ever feel limited?
I’ve never tried writing in Swedish… I guess it is limiting writing in your second language but sometimes limits are nice when you work creatively. I spent a lot of time in England since I have family and friends over there, so I feel quite comfortable with the language. Also perks of growing up in a small country like Sweden, second languages get quite important! But I definitely need a brush up after this year in Scandinavian exile…
You’re totally right. I think the value of having limits when you’re working creatively are lost on most. What’s your process like as a writer and producer? Do write alone and demo? Do you have a band you jam with?
I’m super lazy. I write all my stuff by myself, in my home, sitting in my bed or by my kitchen table, with my soundcard, guitar, midi keyboard, and laptop. I write the songs and record the demos at home. After that we normally record the stuff properly in the studio with real drums and instruments and all that stuff. I’m really awkward when it comes to writing with others.
Yeah, I understand you. I’m the same way as a songwriter. It’s weird.
Yeah, I’ve tried it once or twice and it’s weird, just feels awkward.
Your single “Linn RIP” it’s got a modern sound, but also pretty 90s. You said it’s about wanting to “bury yourself”…
Yes true, but said with a dash of irony of course. But it’s also a quite common feeling I think. Sometimes it just feels like the best solution when you keep on repeating the same mistakes over and over again. To me the song is more about self-love than darkness. It’s more like watching yourself from an outside perspective when you’ve done something stupid and patting yourself on the back. I had friends calling me days after the single came out being like “Linn, are you ok?” (laughing), and I was like, “Yes, I’m fine. It’s kind of sarcasm.”
“To me the song is more about self-love than darkness. It’s more like watching yourself from an outside perspective when you’ve done something stupid and patting yourself on the back.”
I think you can tell that if you watch the video that it’s sort of tongue-in-cheek. There are several “Linns” in a room doing different things, one has big sunglasses on, there’s a gravestone prop in the shot… what was the process like making the video?
It was an extremely quick process, but Arthur and Lukas who filmed and directed it are real pros. The whole thing was filmed in like 4 hours. Since it’s built up on a system of one-takes that are layering up it did require some planning on when to film what and remember what outfit that was doing what (laughs).
And what about the fashion behind it?
I had this idea that I wanted to look like an elegant rock ‘n’ roll version of Holly Golightly / Margot Tenenbaum. The “main Linn” wears an emerald green velvet suit and big 70’s style glasses. The rest of the clothes are a mix of my private stuff, friends stuff, some original 60’s earclips that I borrowed from a local vintage shop here in Stockholm. All the props are self-made. I crafted the gravestone, painted it and glued letters on it. Bought it a kids hobby store in central Stockholm before Halloween.
You also just released another single on Friday called “Blow My Mind”. It’s the third single from your album. What piece of the story does it tell?
“Blow My Mind” is about restlessness and the feeling that something needs to happen. Wanting to top yourself emotionally and feel more all the time. I quite often find myself wishing for something to happen, anything, as long as it gives me a new feeling. People, music, situations, anything that will low key blow my mind.
So like I said, your debut album comes out this year. That’s kind of a big deal for an independent artist. Tell me about it.
Sound-wise I wanted the record to feel modern and new, indie 2021. Sometimes the indie genre feels so nostalgic. Like you just try to sound like all your heroes in the 60s or the 90s. It’s like spending a lifetime painting replicas of Picasso. I’m born in the 90s so I wasn’t there when indie rock bloomed in that sense. I love all that music, it’s been inspiring me lots – like Pixies, Nirvana, Lemonheads – all those, but I also love a bunch of contemporary music. How can I be a person of my own generation and still write guitar music?
Yeah, totally. I think that’s kind of on the forefront of most rock artists today… being an independent rock artist in 2020 – most people don’t realize what it’s really like. What has it been like for you?
There’s a great sense of freedom in being an independent artist, but you don’t become very rich (laughs). But at the end of the day I get to share what I truly love and am passionate about. It’s cliché but every time I meet people on tour, coming to my shows or reaching out and telling me my songs mean a lot to them, I feel like the richest person in the world.