Pairing up with Volvo for Subject60’s promo five-city European tour, we got a few minutes in with Lykke Li just before her performance in Paris. She’s wearing a black batwing smock over a black romper and sporting no less than six thick silver rings. Backstage, she meanders about various ways of being creative; onstage, she’s all business, exercising that raspy voice and swiveling her arms about like a conjuring enchantress. “In Milan, the boys went crazy”, she taunted the all-too-well-behaved Paris spectators. She may like to stay put to write music, but when she’s in the thick of a crowd, she’s all about trying to rile up the reactivity.
Dazed Digital: How did you get involved with the Subject60 tour?
Lykke Li: They just asked me if I wanted to sing for these events, and they’re great cities. I always look for a way to find new audiences and spread my music.
DD: Creatively, are collaborations something you’re continuously interested in?
Lykke Li: I actually prefer to work with the people I’ve been working with for a long time. Like I use the same band when I go on tour. Actually, no - I say no to like 90 per cent of everything. I haven’t done a collaboration in a long time.
DD: You’re really well-traveled, considering you grew up in various countries and now you tour a lot. Do you find being nomadic essential to your creativity?
Lykke Li: A lot of times creativity comes from stillness. I do have periods where I travel a lot, and periods where I just stay in. I do that a lot -- but the problem with that is that after that it’s very hard to push out again, so. My whole life has been very on the go, all over the world. Then, when I create, I have to be in one place, I have to be bored, I have to be kind of sad and just lock myself into my apartment. I don’t need movement to create, but I need it to feel alive, I guess.
DD: Where are you based these days?
Lykke Li: I don’t really have one base. I spent five months in LA, and now I’m back in Stockholm, but I’m going to New York, so I travel between all those places.
DD: Style and music are obviously very intertwined. How much thought do you put into your look for your shows?
Lykke Li: It’s very important. I think as an artist – as any type of artist – you want to be as clear with your message as possible: “this is what I stand for, this is what I believe in”. As soon as I’m finished with a song I get like a film in my head, like, “oh I want to stand with long hair”. It’s very visual as soon as something is done. It’s very crucial. I like artists who are themselves, but they make the best out of what they have. But I think it’s always dangerous to talk about style today, because there’s so much “fashion” oriented stuff. Style is not about fashion, it’s about self-expression - like Patti Smith. I’m more interested in that.
DD: Do you have any other creative touchstones?
Lykke Li: Leonard Cohen. I’m reading his book right now, Beautiful Losers. Bertolucci, the filmmaker. I just listen to old stuff and old people.
DD: …You just listen to old people?
Lykke Li: [Smiles] Yeah.
DD: What have you done in Paris?
Lykke Li: I just got here. I gotta take a nap, ‘cause I haven’t slept at all.
DD: How much time is there in each of the five cities?
Lykke Li: It’s one week each. I’m in Sweden right now so I fly in and fly back.
DD: Have the audiences in different cities been reactive in different ways?
Lykke Li: It’s a very cool audience, cool and collected. They’re all… people don’t come here for the music, they come here to drink free champagne, so they’re not really letting go. But it’s fine, I like a hard audience.
DD: If you weren’t a singer, what field of interest would you like to explore?
Lykke Li: Movies. And writing.
DD: In what capacity?
Lykke Li: That’s yet to be seen. I still have a long life ahead of me. I would love to study philosophy. And literature. And poetry.
DD: Are there any style blogs or fashion websites you follow?
Lykke Li: I try to stay away from that; I’m not super interested in the new “it bag”. I do like to go on Tumblrs and find pictures.
DD: Do you do any photography of your own?
Lykke Li: I have a lot of different hobbies. I do take photos. I love writing, and I love collecting. I collect a lot of photos and poems. I like to create small worlds with feeling and sounds and smells. I love decorating my house. I love vintage shopping. I love cooking, and I love watching movies. I love everything kind of creative.
DD:: All the things you’re collecting – is that a private project, or is that something you’re going to reveal to the public eye at some point?
Lykke Li: Uh… Yeah, when the time is right, yeah.
DD: So is it a blog, a notebook, what is it exactly?
Lykke Li: Oh, you’ll see in a while, you’ll see.