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Meet Loney Dear aka Emil Svanängen, One of Sweden's Most Promising Songwriters

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Photo curtesy of Loney Dear via MySpace.

On Wednesday night Swedish songwriter Loney Dear (otherwise known as Emil Svanangen) will be playing with Andrew Bird at the Orpheum Theater. For six years Loney Dear has been writing, recording, and producing his own albums. He started in his house in Stockholm and slowly grew a steady following through word of mouth. The name Loney Dear refers to the word "lone" which is an ode to the long nights he spent on his own recording his albums.

By his fourth album, record labels began to take notice of Emil Svanangen and Sub Pop released Loney, Noir. His latest album, Dear John, released on Polyvinyl Records is his most adventurous to date. Emil was kind enough to talk to us on the phone yesterday about his lush, whimsical pop. Here is some of what was said.

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When did you decide you wanted to be a musician?
Never. It just happened really. Well, maybe in 2005 when I realized there was a possible chance that I could do it for a living. It was more like a economic thing then a romantic thing. There was no moment when I thought, “I’m going to be an artist.” I just liked music.

After releasing four albums by yourself was it weird to release one on Sub Pop?
No it wasn’t. I always thought it was going to happen. What was weirder was that I knew someone was going to hear it. That was very strange.

Why the switch to Polyvinyl?
Well Sub Pop didn’t want to release the album. They didn’t like it. I’m happy the way things turned out, though.

What inspired you to play music?
I think I was mostly interested in the whole arrangement thing. I love playing multiple instruments at the same time. I was longing for polyphonic music.

Are you still recording everything by yourself ?
I’m recording everything myself.

How come?
Why not? Why should I record with a producer? Until this point I didn’t see a reason. Maybe if I found someone I really liked working with. Would you want someone touching your stuff?

No, not really. But I like having an editor who can give me advice.
I want an editor. Someone who I can call any hour of the day and ask questions. That would be great. Would you be my editor?

Sure! You send me anything you want. What is your favorite thing to do in LA?
It’s a strange town for me, but I really like it.

Is there anything you want to do when you’re here?
I want to meet people, drink coffee, and eat a lot of food. You know, reasonable things.

Why is your album titled Dear John?
I think that was an early idea. I didn’t even know that it was a break up letter until after I named it. I had no idea.

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Where did you write Airport Surroundings?
I think it was in Stockholm. I wrote it when I was out biking.

Do you usually write when you're biking?
I don’t write much anymore. I’m too busy touring. Maybe when I stop.

Do you like playing live or recording better?
Two years ago, I would have said recording. Now, I’m starting like to tour. The better the shows are the better I feel. It can be really sad playing small strange venues. But this tour has been great.


How is touring with Andrew Bird?
It’s great. He’s a really fantastic musician.

Do you have a muse?
I think I had at the time. I'm really inspired by some sort of darker colors. And darker moods and more evil sounds. I’m surprised how evil it turned out.

What is your favorite song to play?
Right now it’s a song called Siren. It’s my favorite song. It’s perfect for me.

What was the worst show you ever played?
Our first show of this tour. It was good show, but I threw up before and after. That wasn’t fun. Sometimes the circumstances are really strange, but the show can be good. . We did a really bad one at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. We were really tired. I think that’s why.

If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
No, I’m a positive thinker. I mean I wish that things would have started happening much earlier. But I think that humans are good people, and that they are trying to do their best. I like it when things happen fast, but it can't always happen. No, I can’t think that way.

Why did you write this album in English?
Because I knew I was going to sing in English speaking countries and it feels weird singing Swedish in them.

Do you plan on recording any music in Swedish?
I hope so. I don’t feel good about singing in English in Sweden. It’s really strange.

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures at all. If it’s a pleasure, it’s a pleasure. There shouldn’t be any guilt. Some people think that I should be ashamed of liking cheap techno music. But I like it. I don’t think of music as something to be ashamed of.

Do you have a favorite local band at the moment?
I really like what my friend David Ahlin is doing. His music is really religious and strange. Sometimes he’s really close to something if he hasn’t already gotten there.

If you go to Stockholm what's the one thing you have to do?
Drink as much homemade tea as possible! I love earl grey tea. I try and go home from errands as often as I can and drink tea in my blue cup.

What is up next for you?
I will tour some more. I will hang out with my family and friends. I will make more music. It's a good year for feeling good about myself.

Be sure and catch Loney Dear at the Orpheum Theater on Wednesday!