Underground Swedish-born, Berlin-based sync-pop musician, songwriter and music producer Molly Nilsson (b. 1984 in Stockholm) has toured Australia as well as the USA lately. In spite of a celebrated 11-year, 10-album career, she has managed to remain largely off the mainstream grid. Her listeners are essential obscure record store diggers. Read more about the obscure music from a popular Swedish pop star.
Based in Berlin since the early 2000s, she publishes her music under her own label Dark Skies Association, founded in 2008. In February this year around 300 individuals gathered to listen to her mystical synth-pop in a small hotel somewhere in Brooklyn.
Home-styled and self-recorded
Nilsson’s work runs from home-styled, self-recorded organ-driven music punctuated by her distinct voice, on older classics like Won’t Somebody Take Me Out Tonight, through to newer cuts like 2018’s electronic Blinded By The Night, with its counterintuitive but alluring broken-beat drum loop. Ten albums as well as numerous EPs and singles have been released so far. In her bedroom studio, Nilsson combines calypso and tango rhythms with saxophone pieces and the synth-pop sound of the 1980s
In Brooklyn, Molly was secretly weaving through the crowd and onto the stage and rapidly took command of the room by dancing a la Audrey Horne all the while singing to the beat of her own computer. Pulling most of the set from her most recent album, “2020,” Nilsson delivered a jubilant performance interspersed with words of wisdom drawing from her experience as a solo female artist.
Designing her own album covers
Underpinning the various musical experiments is an unusual take on popular songwriting that casually melds a wide array of sonic textures, lyrical themes and bygone eras together in a way that sounds obvious and simple, but is cleverly complex and deeply referential at the same time.
Nilsson also self-produces her minimalistically designed album covers and most of her music videos, which are distinctive for their handheld look and a playful use of simple recording techniques – with aesthetic recourse to, for example, the 1990s and the beginnings of the World Wide Web.
Lonesome performance in Brooklyn
In Brooklyn, lacking a band behind her back, Nilsson lead her lonesome performance with grace and bravado. Reveling in the fact that she was entirely in control of the room, she began dancing despite her evident lack of skill; generating a sense of acceptance for anyone who might have been too afraid or embarrassed to dance otherwise.
“When I first discovered music, it was Elvis, The Beatles, Grease; and from there I got into punk — among everything else, like Berlin techno, for example,” Nilsson explains. Her compositions are accompanied by her characteristic, coolly distanced singing. Molly Nilsson’s extensive tours have taken her to numerous clubs and concert venues in Europe, North and South America, Asia and recently to the USA.
Obscure Music From Popular Swedish Pop Star
In the tiny venue in Bushwick, Brooklyn, everybody began gazing at Nilsson as she hypnotized members of a generation generally governed by cynicism with her air of supreme positivity. “I found that what I enjoyed and became interested in and loved about it all was simply the expression — for me, the emotional expression of ABBA or the Sex Pistols is equal, it’s just different emotions and ways of expressing things. But for me it was all just music that gave me kicks, basically,” she told an Australian journalist.
Nilsson’s recent performance at the Market Hotel in Brooklyn confirms the beauty of the timelessness of her sonic ingenuity and how it has managed to keep her successful in the modern independent music scene.
Obscure Music From Popular Swedish Pop Star, written by Tor Kjolberg