Frida Sundemo is an artist - a singer/songwriter and producer - who has been on the radar for some time. For me personally, it began with a 2013 record with Rasmus Faber, "Indian Summer," and since then, Sundemo has released a multitude of music to draw from. When I sat down with her at her hotel in Hollywood earlier this month, she explained in fact that Faber was a mentor of sorts, helping her to release her first album - in the friendly form of two EP's - exclusively in Japan in that same year. By the time she was supposed to release it around the world, she already had too much new music to share, in the end leading to the release of her first internationally distributed album, Flashbacks & Futures, at the end of 2017. When we caught up with her, she was in the midst of a whirlwind trip around the US for a few shows in New York City and LA, sandwiched between shows in Denmark and her home country of Sweden.
Currently, Frida Sundemo is writing a lot of new music. "I try to be as open as possible. I haven't decided which way I want to go - some days I want to work with a symphony orchestra and make big things, but sometimes I just want to sit down at a piano." Such are the inspirations of an artist who is fueled by making music and producing it herself - she sees the big picture.
Today, we have an exclusive listen to the acoustic, stripped-down version of the track "Over You," from her latest album. Dubbed the "pure" version, it is a reminder of Sundemo's aesthetic - futuristic, ultra clean - and her music - expansive, yet intimate, compositions. It takes avant garde notes in her own vision, one that was influenced by the stuff that made her fall in love with music - Depeche Mode, The Strokes, Green Day, as well as her later influences - Sigur Rós, Bjork, and her dream collaborators some day, Tom Waits and Thom Yorke. The last single from Flashbacks & Futures will be released in the next few weeks - "Islands," which if you look at Spotify, has already got some traction with listeners. At that time, it will be flanked by some remixes - something some artists are wont to do with every move, but with Sundemo, it's more precise. The only other remix package she's released with a single of hers is "We Are Dreamers," from the same album, where artists like fellow Scandinavian producer CLMD put his touch on the track.
Music has always been a natural part of Sundemo's life - "Everyone in my family sings or plays instruments." Having jam sessions with her family - parents and brothers alike - primed her love for music. She even bought her first record, Very by Pet Shop Boys, from her older brother. "But it took me some time to figure out that I wanted to work with it myself, because I wanted to become a doctor." And she went on that path, exploring medicine and engineering until she ultimately went to college, and further to med school. "I've always been into science and music - it's been a split thing in my mind." She thought music would be for fun, but then as she started to get more serious in her studies, she got more seriously into producing her own music and teaching herself everything involved in that process. Taking the days to study for school and the nights for her music, she felt like she had to give a music career a chance nearly three and a half years in. Now she's been on break from med school for nearly six years, and plans to eventually finish her degree. "I've always been interested in neurosurgery - if not that, neurology."
When getting in the zone to create or just winding down from the day, Frida Sundemo doesn't immediately turn on contemporary music or even familiar songs. It's jazz, bossa nova that let her settle. Performing was something she had to "settle in to," sounding in the same way, as she was writing for many years before she even showed it someone. After going to her sister for feedback for some time, she started uploading music for public consumption, and performance was the natural next step. "I'm not that super extroverted person, and it's important to me that the music is the main thing. It's why I am an artist. And on stage, it's about that. Your songs get another dimension when you perform them in front of the audience." It's obvious that such depth is an integral part of Sundemo's music - and performing them only adds to that.
In her years of writing music, Frida Sundemo has gotten to know herself - and trust herself in her creative process. "It's a journey." In just hearing her speak about her history and process, it's easy to tell her work is purposeful. "I want people who listen to my music to be able to feel all feelings. My main thing is to give some kind of hope, if they need a little light in the dark. I come back to that when I write lyrics."