Bushstock returns to London’s Shepherd’s Bush this weekend (Saturday 18th June) where it will host some incredible acts of all genres and nationalities. One of whom is Swede Albim Lee Meldau, he will entertain with his captivating and truly haunting stories, told in a dark pop format. Surely, not to be missed.
In the lead up to this weekend’s event, we sat down with Albin to discuss his plans for the performance and everything that has led him to this point, where we find him today.
Speaking with Albin, his ambition becomes clear. Heart and soul – he is invested in telling emotional stories that are like confessionals (whether they are personal to him or not, the inspiration behind the songs is somewhat irrelevant). It is the feeling behind those spoken sentiments and how they connect that is most vital. Albin is a very passionate person, his spirit is what strikes me the most, he has a fire inside him. It burns bright, and I believe that very flame, that very spark inside of him is what will [I’m resistant to speculate, but I am certain that it will] lead him to stardom.
Now delve into our lengthy chat and introduce yourselves to the promising young Scandinavian artist.
Thank you for taking the time out to speak to us today.
“Thank you for taking the time as well. I’m very happy with things today. We’re playing a big show today for the Stockholm Symposium.”
You’re playing at this year’s Bushstock alongside many other incredible artists. Are you familiar with the festival?
“No. To be honest with you, I’ve never been to a festival. Where is it by the way?”
It’s in Shepherds Bush in London.
“Yeah I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been busking and I’ve been a wedding singer and all that for a long time so I love playing, it doesn’t matter if it’s to a thousand people or just one, if someone’s there to listen. I’m looking forward to playing for the people there very much.
[On the other end of the phone, his manager mentions to Albin that he will be playing in a church…]
Yeah, I’ll be playing in a Church which will be great. That will be a lovely venue, I love singing in a Church. So I’m looking forward to coming to London to get some work done and it’s gonna be great to see my friends and family again. I’ve not been in London for almost a month! Oh my god.
I’m looking forward to the whole experience. Life is going very well for me, I’m very happy. I’m delighted to be where I am and I’m looking forward to playing for people, trying to tell my story filled with as much emotion as I can. So yeah, it’s always nice to play and it’s nice to go to countries where people listen and England is a fantastic place. There are a lot of fans, and it’s a big place with a lot of people. They’re a very thankful crowd in England. I loved playing the Great Escape [in Brighton recently] so I’m looking forward to this.”
Are you planning on bringing the full band along with you for this performance?
“Yeah that’s what we’re doing. So it will be seven or eight songs from the EP and the coming album. That’s what I’m gonna do.”
I don’t see any other UK dates booked for you in the near future, so will this just be a flying visit to play Bushstock?
“Yeah we’re doing Shepherds Bush and after that we’re doing Germany and Sweden, Holland, Norway and France. Then we’re going away, so after that, we’ll see. I’m trying to bring my ships over the Atlantic so I will plan that up to the end of September then after that, we’ll see.”
Last time I saw you perform in the UK was when you toured with AURORA, since then you’ve released a lot more music. But from the songs that are still unreleased that you play in your live set, which song are you most looking forward to people hearing in a recorded format?
“I love my children equally. Some songs are easier to perform, some are harder but I wouldn’t say that I’m looking forward to…no. This is a book, my record is a book. You should not skip one chapter. I wouldn’t give any of my children the advantage of being the favourite one. So none of them.”
Your lineage is rooted in the arts, so was music always in the air when you were growing up?
“Yeah my mum’s a music teacher and a singer, and my dad is also a singer. I grew up in the theatre so yeah [music has always] been there. I played trumpet since I was a child, sang in choirs and I’ve been a professional musician for five years, six years. There has been a lot of music in my life and now I don’t hang with people anymore that aren’t doing music, I’ve have my old friends but I never see them around anymore.”
Was music always the path that you wanted to follow?
“I wanted to be a footballer so I was crushed.
[His manager says something to him away from earshot, Albin laughs]
I wanted to be on stage, I wanted everyone to look at me, anyone who says that they don’t want that, is lying. So I decided that this, for me, [was what I wanted to] do. It’s basically only for the girls, so that’s why I started. I realised I was shit at football. I love working but I’m shit at working unless it’s something I like. I could never do anything if it wasn’t something I’m interested in, so this is what I do now and yeah I’m really happy. Music has always been with me and is always gonna be with me. You know, people take themselves too seriously. This is music and this is love. It shouldn’t be taken that seriously. So yeah it’s always been there, but what’s the worst that could happen – nothing.”
Your voice is very unique. Has singing always come very naturally to you or did you have to work at it to achieve what we hear now?
“I had the colic for six months when I was a baby so that’s how it started and my mum is a fantastic singer, a jazz singer – a much better singer than I am. I’ve worked a lot with choirs, I do a lot of harmonies, I’ve done a lot of Afro and Jazz. I love singing. But for me, this isn’t a singing competition, this is how emotion builds stories – the most important thing is to tell a story. So that’s what I’m working hard on. Singing…I’m a singer. It was my first instrument, but what I want to do is be a storyteller so that’s why I work hard on my songs and my lyrics. I’m trying to make a good book. I’m trying to tell you a story that you can relate to….but of course you have to work hard on all [your] skills, just like any other job . You just work and work, and work, and work. Eventually maybe you’ll make it, if you try hard enough.
But I’m a big Bob Dylan fan, I wouldn’t call him a singer but he’s a lyricist. I love singing, and I love singing a big vocal but it’s not something I think I’m trying to aim at. I’ve done a lot of Beyonce covers and Etta James, a lot of female vocalists. And if you go into that, the jazz and the classical world, it’s a different world really. I was the only one that wanted to be a pop star, the rest of them, they think this a phase, they don’t need it. They’re classically trained musicians. Art is not something that should be compared. I find it very hard to do some songs but I try to keep it on the low, I mean it’s the story that should be [most important]…I’m not much for wailing. I love Luther Vandross and I love all of that stuff but there’s a fine line between too much. So yes, singing is important but it shouldn’t be more important than the story or the feeling that you’re trying to share with your audience.
I mean there’s so many great singers, it’s ridiculous. You can just walk down the street or if you watch any TV show. You see singers that are mind-blowing but they don’t talk to me, they don’t show me any emotion. I’m trying to fill [my songs] with emotion.”
Your songs all have a personal touch to them, swimming in deep emotional resonance and timeless storytelling. For you when writing songs, is it important to reveal personal intimate details but still leave a little room for the listener to connect their own situation to the song?
“Of course, it can be personal, it can be any sort of situation, it’s emotion. Emotions don’t have to be personal. And it’s just art. I’m trying to make it a story that you should relate to and I’m not here to tell you if it’s personal or not, or who this girl is or whatever, it might not even be a girl, it might not even exist. Yes, this is my diary but should I take everything so seriously? Of course, there’s a huge proportion of personal experiences in the songs but some songs…I worked with a lot of people, it might be their feelings, you don’t know. It doesn’t have to be my feelings [portrayed in the songs]. There are only two rules. First is to write a good song and the other is to follow the first rule.
I do pop music, emotional pop music and I’m not here to tell anyone what they should feel or think when they’re looking at a painting or reading a book and this should be the same.”
The EP is titled ‘Lovers’. Were all the tracks that feature on the piece written around the same time?
“Lovers was written by my dad in 1978. It’s a cover between me and my dad, of a reggae song from his period in London in the late 70’s. ‘Lou Lou’ is written by me and produced by Björn Yttling, ‘Let Me Go’ is written with Justin Parker and its quite simple what that songs means “If you love me let me go…” and ‘Darling’ I wrote with Björn Yttling. I’ve written 40 songs in a year, when people say they write songs in five minutes, they don’t. They write over their whole lifespan, a few minutes here, bits and pieces everywhere, even the masters. I am 28-years-old, I wrote this between the ages of 27 and 28, this is about love and this love is dark.
I’m a young man with a story to tell but it could be about anything. It should be about everything. I am a blues man, I love blues. This is a blues record, a pop record. But I wanted it to be filled with emotion.”
Now that the debut EP is released, what’s next?
“Just try and make songs, as many as possible. I want to release 16 records before I die, and I better get started. Just work, work, work, work all the time and try to make it as good as I could possibly make it. That’s the plan for now. You know, I only plan a week ahead, maybe two days and there’s no point in me trying to have some time off, the plan’s constantly changing and I don’t know, I might be in any city or anywhere in the world within two days. Just try to keep fit and keep working hard, so you can travel all around the world and not look like shit in the morning and do your job. So that’s what I’m doing.”
Watch Albin and his band play St Stephens Church at 5pm on Saturday 18th June for Communion’s Bushstock festival. For more, including the full line-up and latest ticket news, head to Bushstock.co.uk.