SvD interview with Nina

Here´s a nice big feature on Nina from Sunday´s edition of Svenska Dagbladet.

And here are some quotes for those of you who don't speak Swedish, enjoy:


She played Lysistrate in high-school in Jönköping and dreamt about becoming a photographer. The Cardigans came inbetween. Now Nina Persson debuts in "Om Gud Vill", a movie about love, loneliness - and singing tango.
"Love is the opposite of loneliness. The one you happen to love takes away a little bit of life's unnecessary things."

I've managed to get a table far into a corner of the room, but Nina Persson doesn't care about all the glances going her way. She talks and the words come flowing out of her mouth. She's just made a sharp turn in subject back to her high-school in Jönköping, where she went to the social-sciences program with special focus on drama.
Nina: The question is what I actually learned? Because when we started The Cardigans I used to get horrible stage-frights. I managed to play Lysistrate in school but I couldn't handle being myself onstage.
Through training and discipline she managed to control her stage-fear. Until last month at the P3 Guld awards, where it showed up again.
Nina: My knees gave in and I though I was going to die. Or at least faint. Neil Young once said that inspiration is like a wild beast but I say that having to perform is a wild beast as well. You have to be kind to it and get close to it with respect or else things can go bad.

And now you've performed in a movie.
Nina: Yes, I can't believe it's done.
Juli [Nina's character] in the movie is close to the real Nina Persson. They're both around 30 and have the same way of relating to the world around them.
Nina: I'm also a bit cool like that, or at least I don't act out and gesticulate and waste my words. Whatever comes out is well considered. But you could also say that Juli is more sparse in that finnish way and more coarse than I am. There is so much forest in the finnish tango.

When the only, long, tango scene was going to be recorded for the movie a journalist from the Swedish radio in Malmö had to be called in. She came as fast as she could in a taxi and sat just outside the studio in a couch listening.

So you sing in real Finnish?

Nina: Absolutely! The journalist helped me with the intonation and the results have been personally approved by my aunt Virve who is from Finland. She understood exactly what I was singing about.

It's a movie about longing and loneliness and the silence that doesn't go away just because someone speaks a few words. But it's also a movie about the Swedish 70s that met the first immigrants.

What do you know about loneliness?

Nina: Oh, in Sweden you're very lonely. Especially now after I've married an exuberant American I've realized what loneliness we swedes carry around every day. A lot of things about my work are also very lonesome. Sure, we're a whole gang when we're out on tour but I sit alone writing lyrics and I go to bed alone a lot.

Why do you go to bed alone? Where's your husband?
Nina: Usually somewhere else. We both travel a lot. There's also a loneliness in being a public figure. If I feel bad one day there's nothing worse than having to go out and being recognized.

So on bad days you don't even go out to buy milk?
Well, I guess she does because now Nina Persson straightens up in her seat and says that famous people control themselves how recognized they get. The time she went into a record store in Japan she would never have payed attention to a short, thin man...

Nina: ... if he hadn't had five beefy bodyguards around him. It was Prince, the most anonymous guy ever. The trick is not to have bodyguards, wigs or shades - that's when people start ogling. If I just walk around in my wellingtons or something else unglamorous nobody can imagine that I'm Nina from The Cardigans.

Her road to fame started just as low-key, on the bus number 26 from Bankeryd to Jönköping. The one she took to visit some guys she was friends with - and to the band that would become The Cardigans. But little did she know, then, that they were laying the base to a great success. In the beginning of the 90s she was gearing towards becoming a set designer. Or maybe a photographer.
Nina: I was never into music growing up. And since it was never my dream to become a big rock star and making a lot of money I had a "whoops"-feeling over everything that happened for a long time.

What's a "whoops"-feeling?
Nina: A feeling of surprise. It may be because we were from Jönköping. After five years we had still not understood what we were doing, that's when it stopped being fun, we didn't have the energy to make another album and we felt completely drained.

There is a "before" and "after" with The Cardigans. The point between the two has to be the reunion in 2002, after the members had gone in different directions. Nina Persson sighs and say that it became "something a bit unnatural" to be 25 years old and spend 24 hours a day with four people of the opposite sex that she neither was related to or was romantically involved with. She moved to the U.S. and made a solo-career. That's when the phone rang. The guys in the band had rented a house outside of Los Angeles and demanded that she joined them there.
Nina: For the first time ever we did something luxurious together. We needed that.

In that house by the beach there was time to get through everything that had gone wrong and everything that they had lost. But also time to build a new base to stand on, from the love of music. The result was Long Gone Before Daylight that came in 2003 - and was a commercial failure, compared to earlier albums.
Nina: Of course we were disturbed when our new really beautiful music didn't sell as well, even though we got really great reviews. The crassest one of us in the band usually says that the worse something is, the more it sells. Which would mean that if our latest one Super Extra Gravity sells more we've made a worse album.

How is it selling then?
Nina: I think it's doing better. But I don't really know, getting into sales figures is really abstract.

The most important thing, if I understand Nina Persson right, is that the resurrected The Cardigans work from the heart.
Nina: When we were considering the thought of quitting the band everybody panicked. Not because we were afraid to end a succesful concept like the one we had going, with the money and confirmation that comes with it, but more because it felt so sad. To end because we'd gone bad. If you're gonna quit you should do it on top.

In the future Nina wouldn't mind making more movies - but also to continue with The Cardigans.
Nina: We're probably going to go on as long as we feel that we're having fun and as long as we feel that we are needed. We've always given ourselves time to start hating the previous record before starting a new one. It's a great way of moving on.

What tells you you're needed?
Nina: It feels as if there is a big hole in the world that nobody else but us can fill. Since there's nobody else that sounds like us. Or in other words: My voice is like Kalle's Kaviar [a popular bread spread in Sweden], you recognize it no matter what it's spread on top of.
News archive »