When you see stories about Alice Boman, a singer-songwriter from Malmö, Sweden, you’ll almost always read that she never intended to release the five songs on her 2013 debut EP, Skisser. Hearing them in all their quiet power and loveliness, you can understand why this fact is so hard for people to get over. If the world never knew about Alice or her music, we would all truly and sadly be missing out.
On June 3, she releases a new collection of songs on EP II, including “Over,” the video for which we are pleased to premiere today!
I talked to Alice recently about how she got over her shyness about her music being heard, the pop music scene in Malmö, and the buzzy feeling that comes from filling up a room with the sound of your own voice.
LENA: Tell us about the process of writing this song, “Over.”
ALICE BOMAN: It’s a pretty old song, actually. I wrote it on guitar. It’s a home recording, and, like the ones on the first EP, I didn’t know I was going to release it when I recorded it.
If you didn’t plan to release the songs on Skisser, what did you want to do with them?
The songs that ended up on that EP, I thought of as demos. I loved recording and playing with sounds, so I made them just for fun. I wanted to release them, but I wanted to make proper recordings [first]. I was kind of naïve. I didn’t have any money, so I sent those demos to a recording studio and asked them what it would cost to have half a day to record just one song. The guy at the studio liked [the demos] so much that he sent them to Adrian Recordings, and they wanted to release them. They weren’t out on the internet or anything.
How did you feel about Adrian’s wanting to release your demos?
It was a bit intimidating, because they were so far from done, in my opinion. But when the label liked them, I couldn’t say no. It was such an opportunity, but it was a bit scary—and mostly unbelievable that the label wanted to do it.
Was it the first time you’d written music?
No, I’d been writing for a while. It’s only been the last couple years, though, that I’ve found the way to write the way I want to write. I have some earlier songs that are not so good—I don’t feel comfortable with them. But you realize that you’ll never be fully comfortable anyway. You will always want to change things, and there’s always something you want to do more of. I needed to learn to let go, so I could move on and write these songs. I used to be uptight about it—I didn’t want people to hear what I’d written. But now, I think it’s nice to share it, even though it’s not perfect. I guess nothing ever is.
Do you have a place you like to go to write?
When I travel, I tend to write a lot, especially when I’m on trains. There’s something about being in motion and between places. I have all these little melodies recorded on my phone. Somehow traveling makes me calmer than being at home. I like seeing new places and meeting people.
Because it’s such a small town, everyone—well, not everyone, but a lot of the people who are making music—knows each other and supports each other. There’s such a nice vibe to it. Almost all the bands on Adrian are from Malmö. When I play live, there’s a guy who plays drums and sings with me, and he’s also in the band This Is Head, which is one of my favorites.
With just you and one other person playing live, what’s it like performing at festivals or in bigger clubs—especially when your songs have a gentler sort of sound?
When there’s a good sound system, it can still fill the room. Once I played quite late in a bar in Denmark. People were kinda drunk. It was a loud audience, and I had to sing out so much louder. I got a rush out of it. ♦