Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Plus Win Guest List Passes To See Cajsa Siik Support Mitski In Hamburg On June 16th.
In a world of three second attention spans, information overload, Spotify playlists, and more new music seeing the light of day than ever before, it is becoming ever harder for new artists to find success. To make yourself heard above the noise it seems that you need either an over-abundance of talent or a top notch marketing team. Luckily for Swedish native Cajsa Siik, one listen is enough to convince that she is an artist with talent to spare! By JOHN BITTLES
May heralded the release of Domino, a record brimming with creative energy, artistic flourishes, and an emotional core. Following her previous LPs, 2012’s Plastic House and Contra from 2014, Domino shows an artist willing to experiment and take chances in the firm knowledge that each of the album’s eight songs are as strong as they can be. Merging the electronic trickery of Banks or FKA twigs with the focused introspection of Soko or Masha Qrella, for her third album Cajsa Siik has created a deeply personal record which is willing to hold your hand through even the toughest of times.
Opener, White Noise starts the album in fine style with Cajsa’s voice taking centre stage behind a lush fusion of electronica and acoustic instrumentation. Quietly euphoric, and with just a hint of melancholy, this is a tune which will appeal as much to your hipster mates as your mum. Further in, Sad Celebration has a loose jauntiness which helps it feel as cozy as a teddy bear hug, Talk To Trees recalls The Concretes at their very best, Empire Mine has such a sense of longing it is hard to keep your eyes dry, while closer Shallow Light is a rich piano ballad which showcases the singer’s vocals to stunning effect.
Currently in the middle of a European tour, the artist very kindly took the time to answer some questions. In the following interview we discuss her new album Domino, playing live, pop music, stage diving, and lots more.
Also, be sure to stay until the end, as we offer one lucky reader the chance to win a guest list pass for themselves and a friend to see Cajsa Siik support Mitski in Nochtspeicher Hamburg on the 16th of June.
By way of introduction, can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
My name is Cajsa Siik. I’m an artist, songwriter, producer and musician from the north of Sweden.
Your new album Domino came out on the 10th of May. What was the idea behind the LP?
With time I’ve noticed that creating albums is somehow a process of entering a new era, or a new phase. For me that comes with a will to sum things up and look back and head in new perspectives or lights. Find different ways of telling stories. After releasing my second album Contra I knew I was heading in a new direction. Writing Domino I faced a lot of self doubts and my main goal became to let my fears go and be honest to my emotions. It might sound cheesy, but it’s easier said than done. Battling those demons. I wanted to surprise and not repeat myself and I experimented a lot with different ways of writing using different instruments.
I also experimented a lot with my voice. Testing boundaries. While recording the album I had a feeling of wanting to explode, add sparkling energy and to speed things up. Especially in the rhythm section. But during this process I discovered that the explosion I was aiming for was not about speed – it was about the dynamic in the songs and the dynamic in the relationship between them. I’ve had the pleasure of working with my favourite drummer Thomas Hedlund (Phoenix, Deportees, Cult Of Luna etc), and musicians Rasmus Kellerman (Tiger Lou), Carl Ekerstam (Winnerbäck) and Rolf Klinth. They all have very personal ways of playing their instruments which was very important for the sound of the album.
If someone only had time to listen to one song from the album, which should it be and why?
These days when people discover new music or a new artist it’s often through the album singles. Therefore I would recommend the song Shallow Light. It is the final song of the album – it’s dramatic but stripped down. Somehow it’s about a search for that perfect and painful goodbye.
Lead single Talk To Trees has a soft, soulful strut which lingers long in the mind. How well does it represent the rest of the LP?
Hmmm.. yes it has a soulful suggestive airiness to it. Talk To Trees gives me a certain feeling of hopeful strength yet still in a melancholic way. I think that’s quite representative for the rest of Domino.
Opener White Noise is a fab slice of electronic pop. How big an influence is ‚pop‘ to the music that you make?
Thank you. Wow.. the concept of pop includes such a huge wide range of music… and of course it has a big impact on my way of writing. Especially when it comes to melodies and structures of songs. But I also think that my classical background has influenced me a lot. I started to play the cello when I was a kid and I remember that certain composers, like Dvořák and Bach, really moved me with their ways of creating a musical drama. Hits a nerve. I’ve always been drawn to melodies that tell a story. No matter what genre.
One of my favourite tracks on the album is the melancholy swoon of Solar Still. Can you tell us a bit more about this song?
It’s somehow about those powerful highs and lows and the journey in between…about movement towards clarity.. the urge to get closer to the core vein and the reason why. To me it’s also about the effort it takes to build trust with others.. letting go of the ego.
You’ll be playing in Germany this June. Where will you be playing?
May 25 I played a release show in Berlin (at Monarch in Kreuzberg). Then I will support Mitski in Hamburg (Nochtspeicher) June 16th.
You’ll be supporting Mitski, whose Puberty 2 album was a highlight of 2016. How do you feel about playing in front of such a large crowd?
Scared and excited. It’s the beauty of playing live. Every show and every crowd is like a new adventure. You never know what to expect. I’m very honoured to be opening for Mitski. She’s an amazing artist.
Do you have anything special planned for the show?
To do at least two stage dives. The best way to build trust. Kidding aside. I’m playing solo so it will be a quite stripped down show with electronic and acoustic elements. From the heart, as the songs were written.
What’s the best thing about playing live?
It must be the combination of feeling scared and excited. Meeting people that I’ve never met before. The fragile humbleness of sharing your music with others.
And, the worst?
The same answer as previous question.
If people could learn one thing from your music, what would it be?
That’s a tricky question. Not being able to answer that question somehow defines the mysterious magic of sharing music. I guess what I mean is that there are as many ways of listening as there are people. Songs can be interpreted in so many different ways.
Which five songs should everybody hear at least once in their lives?
David Bowie – Life On Mars.
Bon Iver – Holocene.
Simon and Garfunkel – Song For The Asking.
Bonnie Raitt – I Can’t Make You Love Me.
Edvard Grieg – Solveig’s Song.
Do you have any final words for our readers?
I really hope I’ll get the chance to meet you on the road! I promise I’ll stage dive if you promise you’ll catch me.
Domino is available now in all good record shops and download stores now. To be in with a chance of winning a guest list pass for you and a friend to see Cajsa Siik support Mitski in Nochtspeicher Hamburg on the 16th of June simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org telling us why you would like to go.