Loney, Dear is the work of Emil Svanängen who records solo and performs live with a full band. There most recent album, “Dear John” was released on Sub Pop. It’s the fifth album from this supremely talented Swede and has finally begun to get the press in America that should have arrived many years ago.
Due to Emil’s busy tour schedule, this interview had to be conducted via email and there wasn’t enough time for follow up questions (In other words, I didn’t want to bother him anymore.). His tone in his emails is one of great humility and passion. What follows is the bulk of the interview questions…
TDOA: With each album, you’re getting more and more publicity. With the new album you’re starting to get noticed by “mainstream” music magazines and blogs. Do you feel more pressure when you’re playing live knowing that you’re performing to a new crowd? Will you feel more pressure writing the next album?
Emil: I always feel a great pressure but it never has to do with any major labels or magazines. Im just worried that i wont be able to create something great and love it myself.
TDOA: You’re about to do three dates of this tour as the headliner. Obviously this isn’t new for you, but do you have a different approach for these shows, knowing that people came just to see Loney, Dear?
Emil: To be honest, those shows are more about filling the holes when the big tour is having days off, BUT it is always magic to come to a new place and play in front of new people. The Houston show was really nice, apparently, the bartender working there for 7 years, has never cared for a band before during those years and that night she came to buy my records. Thats big!
TDOA: Please talk about the transition of going from recording by yourself to playing these songs with a full band. You’ve done this throughout your career and I’m curious why you never use the band in the studio. In interviews you’ve said that you don’t like the sound of bands in the studio. Do you worry about losing control of the sound of a record by allowing a full band and a producer into the creative process?
Emil: Maybe not worrying bout losing the power, rather worrying that the special ideas would be rubbed away. I don’t like it when music sounds ordinary. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be great, there hasn’t been a great time for it yet though.
TDOA: Continuing on this line of thinking: you get great reviews for your live shows. Do you enjoy the sound of the band live given your hesitancy to record in a studio with a band?
Emil: Sometimes the live situation is a struggle when you need to think of all the wills and make sure everyone is feeling happy on stage. I guess I just want to put the music in the first room.
TDOA: Our website jokingly (sort of) asserts that listening to bad music makes you dumber. Prime culprits are the Nickelback and American Idol spinoffs of the world. If there was one band that you could eliminate from this world, who would it be?
Emil: Oh good question. Your average garage rock band.
TDOA: You’ve talked in other interviews about your music becoming more acoustic-based in the future. Sub-Pop made it’s name as a grunge label and has made an amazing transition to “quieter”, less angst-filled music. How did you become involved with Sub-Pop and how has it been working with them?
Emil: I started working with them after I played my first show at the SXSW festival. that was a huge thing for me.
TDOA: You’ve said that music comes first and then lyrics. Did that hold true for this album? What part of the music comes first? Guitar, vocal melodies, drum beats?
Emil: I really try hard to do all together as much as I can. the more at the same time the merrier.
TDOA: I read an interview where you said that you are sad most of the time. Yet, your lyrics seem to vary from desperation to hopefulness. Does songwriting provide you with a catharsis for the sadness you feel?
Emil: Its not true anymore, but I thought things were sort of difficult a couple of years ago.
TDOA: How did you feel about the United States when Bush was President? Do you perceive a different feeling with Obama in office?
Emil: Sure, its a big differece. I hope it can last.
Here’s a taste of what you get with live Loney, Dear. Thanks for taking some time with us Emil.