Happiness Li: “Eyeey, that’s the record for someone who no longer exists”

With “Eyeye”, a fifth album formed at home in Los Angeles, the Swede continues to sing melancholy on the air, narrative and refined pop songs. Meeting an artist who is proud of his vulnerability.

The first two songs on the album, No hotel and You do not go away, is almost a capella. What did you like about the idea of ​​putting your voice forward so much?
I’ve always had a problem with my voice. Which is paradoxical when you know that this is exactly the first thing that strikes me when I listen to a song. I am obsessed with the voice, its emotions, the intimacy it can create with the listener. For a long time I was complex, I could not offer good performance in the studio … eye eye, it was an opportunity for me to take up a challenge, to finally succeed in releasing what I like to call “my vocal album”. Where these two pieces are placed in the opening, right there to show the ambition of the disc. And then it must be said, No hotel is the song there triggered the rest of the album. I knew then that I was holding the opening of the disc there and that it was only left for me to tell a story about the following titles.

Do you not find it paradoxical to highlight your voice so much knowing that you have a complicated relationship with it?
This is the first time in my career that I completely agree with my voice. I assume my song, its vulnerability.

It is with the idea of ​​keeping this purity in the voice that you wanted to record eye eye with only study instruments, without digital effects?
It is above all that I mainly listen to old music, pieces where I feel the emotions in the sound of the instruments, in a tempo change, etc. I really need to feel that authenticity. On eye eyea number of the instruments used come from elsewhere in the 1990s: they have their own story, their character, they bring an obvious breath to my tunes.

Finally, this intimacy that we feel when we listen to the disc, both in the melodies and in your voice, is largely indebted to the way you recorded eye eyeNothing?
The fact of recording this album in my room in Los Angeles, it was primarily with the idea of ​​returning to where it all started, reconnecting to the energy I had when I composed my first songs, 19 years old, alone with my 8-numbers and my piano. To eye eye, I had the ambition to reconnect to this state of mind, more refined: I thought and composed it while sitting on the floor, hardly bathed, not made up at all. It was Bjørn Yttling (bassist by Peter Bjørn and John, present by his side since Youth novelsred. remark) and me, without artistry, or any intermediary capable of disrupting the recording or shaking at an idea.

All this tumult around you, is it something that is heavy to live with?
Above all, I needed to be at home, without headphones, alone, in the ideal position to capture a certain sound of my voice. It’s a great feeling to be lost in the process of an album, to capture the first ideas and expose oneself without fear of being judged by producers, sound engineers or others.

However, you do not seem to feel this embarrassment with Björn Yttling, your eternal accomplice.
Björn and I have spent so much time together, talking, studying chords, discussing song structure that we quickly understand each other in the studio. He knows exactly where I want to go, giving us more time to try to touch the divine.

After five albums thought together, how do you manage to surprise yourself?
I have the feeling that we both love art, so we live off other works to stay relevant. Currently, for example, I am immersed in the discographies of Brian Enos and Max Richter. Because I need to be open to new sounds. And because I want to confront myself with new approaches to composition. I tend to talk about the same themes over and over again, so I might as well be musically innovative.

At this point, eye eye retrieves his inspiration from a heartache …
You know, it was a real ordeal to see me go through a kind of eternal restart. I’ve already sung so much about the relationships that break your heart, the pain that goes through your body after a breakup. Yet I once again took in these feelings to try to rebuild myself again.

Earlier you said you were not very good at romantic relationships … Is this record a way for you to better understand this type of emotion?
eye eye, in the end, was imagined as my last riposte in this battle for love. I was disappointed on several occasions: sometimes because of my behavior; other times, because of the guilt of others. I do not want to blame anyone, I just need to find out where this problem in me is coming from. To get rid of all these bad thoughts about love, of course, I followed a series of therapies, but one has to believe that I am an eternal romantic. For me, love is an addiction, with everything it generates in terms of intensity, attachment, ecstasy and depression.

On the album you tell about passion, rejection, addiction and desire. What do you think is the hardest feeling to deal with?
They are all. This addiction is a feeling that puts you out of control. You become uncontrollable, crazy: One day you doubt, the next you are in ecstasy, you feel these conflicting effects physically, it becomes an obsession … All this is very intense, and it is clearly not easy to deal with for a while , where romance seems to have become cheesy, even simply old-fashioned. Me, on the other hand, I grew up watching Romeo + Juliet : it’s this completely crazy relationship staged by Baz Luhrmann that has shaped my perception of love, even though it means it’s hard to perceive all the time.

What do you think is the most beautiful love song in the world?
There are so many… Love hurts, hey, there’s no way to say goodbye by Leonard Cohen, it’s still a wonderful song. But I can not also mention Nothing compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor or I Will always Love You by Whitney Houston. In the end, any good song is a love song.

And the best breakup song?
That’s the beauty of the pieces I just mentioned: they are often on the borderline between declaration of love and remorse. With, every time, enough subtleties to be listened to in any case, whether it is in love or in the midst of depression.

On eye eyeis there a song that makes you especially proud?
It’s not easy in the sense that this record is probably my most autobiographical project, but I will say ü & i where I sing the last moments of a relationship: “I close my eyes / I do not want to see your back go / This can not be the last line / I can not cope with this heartache”. This is the song I’ve been dreaming of writing for a while.

The way the album is structured, however, suggests that we are living in a loop and that these heartaches are doomed to repeat themselves, right?
From the title of the disc, a palindrome, to its duration – 33 minutes and 33 seconds, to be exact – the idea was to create a circularity, a story that begins and ends in the same place. That is why the idea of ​​addiction is mentioned earlier: once again, everything is done here to show that love is like a substance that one never really gets rid of.

eye eye was released a few weeks ago on the platforms. Do you already have the necessary perspective to know what you have learned by recording it?
We are necessarily another person after such a record, very personal, very spontaneous. eye eye, it is the record of a person who no longer exists, a woman with dark ideas who again needed to reinvent herself acoustically. Waiting for the sequel.

Interview by Maxime Delcourt

eye eye (Crush Music / PIAS). Released June 17.
Concert on October 26 in Paris (Trianon).

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