Meet Linnea Södahl – a song-writer starting to make her mark in the Stockholm music scene, and an artist in her own right. She’s one quarter Swedish, one quarter Finnish, one quarter Danish and one quarter Norwegian – so let’s just call her Nordic, shall we? Oh, and she was born in South Africa, out of all places… So she’s basically one international Stockholmer.
Linnea Södahl recently released her latest single Two is an Army. She tells it was simply one of those songs she felt was just too personal and meant so much to her, that she just couldn’t let go of it and give it away to someone else.
The song Two is an Army basically means the opposite of the Swedish saying “Ensam är stark” (“Alone is strong”). That kind of thinking is so not true. I think when you have someone on your side, you can get through a lot and accomplish so much more.
Linnea’s earlier musical style was more in the singer-songwriter vein, but Two is an Army, along with other newer material, has meant a new, more electronic sound she feels is very right for her.
I’ve really arrived at this sound through experimenting and also through influences from others in my song-writing.
Parallel with pursuing her own artist career, Linnea has already written songs for some name-dropping-worthy Swedish artists such as soon-to-be international superstar Zara Larsson, whose most recent single, the laid-back summer jam Lush Life, is co-written by Linnea. TIME Magazine wrote very highly of the song:
“Mixing the island-pop of Rihanna’s early days with a pulsing bass line on par with Fancy, Lush Life is the song of the summer that never was—a track so jam-packed with hooks that the song’s real chorus doesn’t even arrive until after the two-minute mark.”
Linnea has also written for the hugely popular Swedish boyband The Fooo Conspiracy, whose songs Wild Hearts and Thirsty she had her hand in.
Writing songs for others is really what I’m most focussed on at the moment. Song-writing in general feels closest to my heart right now, and time will tell if it will be more songs for other artists or for myself.
When asked about what the song-writing process looks like in practice, Linnea says she thinks it’s most fun to work with other artists in the studio.
I have sessions with other artists I think are good and we basically just write together. I feel it’s often so much fun trying to understand the other person and trying to look for the right sound and words. I want to make that person feel that the material really suits them. I absolutely love that side of making music.
Writing her own music was not a given for Linnea from the start. She started out playing covers during her school years with different cover bands, playing anything from jazz to pop and just about anything in between.
I started writing my own music only after finishing gymnasium. I started experimenting more on the guitar and the piano and finding my own melodies. At first it was songs for myself, but now that I know so many other great artists and work with a great music publishing company (TEN), I have great opportunities to work with others.
Digging deeper into the song-writing process, wonder which comes first – the text or the music?
It varies. I always write down interesting expressions or phrases I see or maybe hear in a movie, or if I get some kind of feeling or just hear some cool-sounding words. I save those on my mobile, so I always carry them with me. And it’s the same with melodies. I might hum something when I’m out walking and think “that was nice” and record it. So anywhere I go, I always carry with me this library of words and sounds I can refer to.
Now that I often write with others, we can also find a lot of inspiration from each other. One of us comes up with something and the other takes it further from there.
Linnea feels Stockholm is an excellent place to be for a song-writer.
Being from Gothenburg myself, I could not have worked as a song-writer there in the same way it is possible here. If you want to write songs for others, this is the place to be. Stockholm is like an international hub for song-writing. Los Angeles would really be the only step up in terms of having so many international music people moving there, but Stockholm is definitely number two or three in the world when it comes to song-writing.
As far as the live music scene is concerned, Linnea feels things could improve in terms of how live music and especially up-and-coming artists and musicians are treated.
It can often be so that while DJs get paid well for their sets, in some places live bands and artists can even be expected to play for free and just be grateful for the chance to play live. It can be quite difficult for an artist before making a name for yourself.
We did get to see Linnea play live on the big stage in Kungsträdgården during the Smaka på Stockholm food festival, where the pictures in this article are from. Here’s hoping we’ll get to see more of her at Stockholm venues – and we are really looking forward to hearing more of her finely crafted pop tunes, whether sung by herself or by other artists.
Text & photos: Nina Uddin