by LÉON The sophomore album was born after a period of great change in her life, shortly before the pandemic rocked all of our worlds. So create A part, released today, was unlike any recording experience she had had before.
The singer-songwriter, née Lotta Lindgren, returned to her native Sweden at the end of 2019, after a year of touring for her self-titled debut album. As the adrenaline rush of constantly being surrounded by her bandmates and crowds of fans wore off, Lindgren also had to deal with the end of a relationship, after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend. .
She rang in 2020 from Stockholm, living alone for the first time, and facing her grief and isolation. Then the pandemic struck. But Lindgren took that loneliness in stride and began to write like she did before getting involved in the music industry – entirely on her own.
A part was completed in Stockholm from start to finish, with producer Martin Stilling, an old friend of Lindgren. Together they took the vulnerability of his songs and made it into a new film album. Impeccably placed string sections and breathtaking harmonies create a devouring sound experience. At A partLindgren is the most vulnerable she has ever been, and it’s a welcome development.
“I think it’s just honest – very honest,” LEON says of the album. “All of the songs were quite emotional for me to do. It’s very personal.”
Below, LEON speaks with PAPER about the unique experience of making an album in the midst of a pandemic, and how that brought about a certain return to form in terms of the creative process, as well as the healing powers of music. And be sure to broadcast A part, here.
It seems like the start of the year, before you started recording the album, was a time of transition for you. How did you experience this time?
The start of this year was a strange start to the new year. I returned from a tour two days before Christmas. There were a lot of different emotions because I had been with my touring family for most of the year on a tour bus, and I had just had my first apartment on my own in the middle of it all. I was also starting to think about what I wanted my next project to be. With all these different emotions, the year has not started off well for me.
Would you say that making music has been healing for you throughout all of this?
Definitively. One of the greatest comfort was that I got to do this new album with one of my best friends here in Stockholm. It was such a good thing for me to go to the same place, his studio, every day. And the studio is really close to my apartment. So working with someone who really knows me and what I’m going through was really cool.
How was the recording of this album different from your other projects?
It was really different. With the last album, a lot of the writing was done in LA, then I recorded a lot of it in London. I don’t know what I would have done if we hadn’t been in this situation. But I think it went pretty well, just being able to be in a studio all the time. It was a consistency that I hadn’t had for a long time. The process for this album was similar to how I wrote before I entered the industry. I wrote a lot on my own. When I was a teenager I had a band and wrote songs on my own and then brought them to my band. But then I got used to writing with different people and producers. So this time around I was going back to my way of working so it was pretty relaxing in a way.
Did you do most of the writing before entering the studio or did it happen at the same time you were working on A part?
It was both. Many of these songs occurred while I was sitting at home in my kitchen. And then I would go into my producer’s studio and we would work there together and push him further. And then I have two songs from the album that I didn’t write with him.
“The process for this album was similar to how I wrote before I entered the industry.”
Throughout this process, was there any music you were listening to that inspired you?
With this album, I really wanted big string sections and that inspired me to old songs from the 70s and 60s, like The Mamas and the Papas and Big Star. Big Star is one of my favorite bands. But it was more that I wanted the album to be a little more organic, so I wanted it to have these big backing vocals and big strings.
I’ve definitely heard that vintage influence. I was really impressed with the production of the album. Listening to him, I just wanted to go for a run in a field or something.
It’s awesome. I just had a big smile on my face. I’ll tell my producer. He worked like crazy, so he’ll be very happy to hear that.
Were you very involved in the production, or was it more of a partnership between you and the producer?
It was really a partnership. But we have a bit of the same language when it comes to music. He’s young, but he’s a big fan of doing things the old-fashioned way and he’s a nerd. I think we have exactly the same musical tastes and are drawn to the same things, so it came quite naturally to us to decide how things should sound. Once he figured out where I wanted to take this album, I also wanted to give him a lot of space, because I can have a bit of control if I’m in the studio with him all the time. I’ll be right there behind him or next to him suggesting things until he goes crazy. So we came up with a system, maybe halfway through the process, where I would come in the morning for a few hours, then leave it for a few hours, and come back maybe in the evening. So he had a little space to play, and then I would come back and we would play together.
Would you say there was a song that was a little harder to do?
“Chasing A Feeling” was so difficult to produce. It was really hard to get it right because if there was too much battery or if it was too electronic it ended up sounding very EDM. It was difficult to find the balance, so this is probably what took the longest to complete. “Die For You” was easy, but it was also very difficult to decide when it would be over.
Do you have a favorite track on A part?
It always changes. It had been a while since I dared to listen to the record. So I would probably say “Seventeen”, maybe? And maybe, “And it breaks my heart.” But among the songs people haven’t heard yet, “Seventeen” and “Falling Apart”.
Let’s talk about the opening track, “Head And Heart On Fire”. It gave me chills. How was the process of creating this song?
It was actually a song I made from home. I recorded it on my phone then took it to my producer and played it for him on an electric guitar. I’m always so shy when it comes to lyrics, so I was like, “We can change them.” But he was like, “No, I think they’re good.” Then we recorded it very quickly. So that was one of those rare times when you feel like it works right from the start.
“All of the songs were quite emotional for me to do. It’s very personal.”
How would you describe the album as a whole in a few words?
I think it’s just honest – very honest. All the songs were quite moving for me to do. It’s very personal.
It’s a strange time to release an album, but what are you looking forward to after the release of this album?
I don’t really know what to feel or expect to feel when I release this album, because I’m so used to putting out the music, going to rehearsals and bringing a show to life. And when you turn an album, you get to know the songs in a different way, experience, explore and breathe new life into the songs. So I don’t know what to expect. I hope I can do something live and get creative in any way I can to give the songs some extra life, but I don’t know. I’ll probably just go into the studio and do a third album, to be honest. So maybe that’s my coping mechanism, just making an album.
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