2004 'Political' interview with Stina!!

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2004 'Political' interview with Stina!!

Post by RobB »

Shared on a Stina facebook page, here's a link to a interview with Stina during the early summer of 2004.


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Re: 2004 'Political' interview with Stina!!

Post by sound world »

Where's that FB page, RobB? Link?

And here's a translation which I have - and have had for years, so I can't remember who translated it, alas. I assume someone from the old CQD forum?

The singing anarchist

Stina Nordenstam on politics, being an outsider and being more alien than woman.

Originally in magazine ETC (Feb. 04), interviewed by Martin Halldin

Since Stina Nordenstam released her first album "Memories of a color"
13 years ago, an at times fanatically devoted crowd of fans have been
following every step of her career. When Peder Bjurman's text "Isens
Fasor", spoken and musically interpreted by Stina, was performed at
Elverket, the experimental stage of Dramaten, the rush was close to
chaotic. Rumours had it that Stina Nordenstam herself would be sitting
in the audience, listening to the work played back from a reel to reel
tape recorder on the stage.

However, Stina didn't show up, much to the disappointment of the
audience who had to put up with the tape recorder.
This is just one example of the almost hysteric cult status enjoyed by
Stina Nordenstam. Her records have been elevated to the skies, and she
has collaborated with superstars like Suede's Brett Anderson, Yello
and Vangelis. But she is mostly famous - and appreciated - for being a
solo artist. The commercial peak of her career came, somewhat
surprisingly, when she contributed to the soundtrack for the Leonardo
DiCaprio spectacle "Romeo + Juliet". But most of the time, the media
buzz is very low around Stina Nordenstam. She rarely gives interviews,
and is almost never played on the radio. For a long time, getting an
interview with Stina Nordenstam seemed a hopeless endeavour to me,
until I managed to get in touch with her by a coincidence. We decided
to meet up for an interview, on one condition:

"I'm only up for it if we discuss politics. To leave the political
context out of a conversation with ETC would in a way imply a silent
approval, an agreement on a common point of view, and I'm not
comfortable with that", she wrote in an email.
And she's right about that. So here it comes: Stina Nordenstam's view
on politics.

Have you read ETC?

- No, but I know about the magazine since I come from a communist
home. That's why I have this aversion towards the left, in a way.

You've said that you find it very difficult to relate to different
groups of people.

- Yes, that might be the fundamental reason that I dislike political matters.

When they become generalized?

- I think they are per definition. It's very difficult for me to
relate to and see myself as a part of a group.

Is that what politics are for you?

- Yes, somehow. It's like there's something fundamental to it when
people engage in political matters, that there's a will to join
together. A mutual agreement on the nature of things. Somehow that's
against my nature. I feel constantly in opposition, in all contexts,
in a rather annoying manner.

Is that bugging you?

- Yes, it's a really irritating trait. To be uneasy and to question
things all the time.

But what do you do with your thoughs and views on the way society is?
Do you channel it into your artistic expressions?

- In the extent that it's present in my art, there's the personal
journalism. I've never had any other ambition with art. To be able to
comment and represent society, you have to feel like a part of it. And
I don't. I think it takes some kind of attachment to be able to do it.
Since I've had an insecure childhood, I've never felt safe enough to
feel that attachment. I've always felt like I was off the side. And
that's when it turns into a voicing of criticism instead.

Like some kind of anti politics?

- Yes, or like a process terminated early on, demanding something new
to continue. But in a way I'm a part of society. I take things in as a
consumer, and have spontaneous opinions about stuff. But it comes to a
halt as soon as I feel required to say something.

How do you mean when you say you're not a part of society?

- It's a feeling, not an analysis. I don't feel like a part of a
family, group, or school, but rather like being outside, always.

But isn't that a bit contradictive since a lot of political people
listen to your music? How does that make you feel? You've got a
standing as an artist in the left ranks.

- But I think that goes without saying, except for the musical part...
Since I'm not going for the average commercial approach.

So that's why the "alternative" people find you?

- It might be twofold. Both in representation, a kind of view of me as
a performer, and what the music is, because it's personal too, rather
than commercial and genre oriented.

Do you care about the views and thoughts of your interpreters?

- There is an aspect which is difficult to talk about, but it has to
do with the construction of my psyche. My perception of reality is a
bit askew and rather frail. I'm very short-sighted in the sense that I
experience things very intensely right where I am. I can't think in
distant terms, or in greater contexts. I just can't. So the thing
about how people perceive... That's too many abstractions from here
and now.

Even though they are deeply personal, many of your songs seem to speak
to their own periods of time, for instance "This Time, John" which is
about the murder of John Rhon. Could it be that because you have a
feeling of being outside society, you view it in a completely
different way than other people?

- I definitely think so. I think adopting a stance and being part of a
group can be limiting a lot of times. And while it's tormenting to
always be a bit uneasy, it does grant some kind of... Well it isn't
objective, it's a kind of subjectivity in control. It's personal

But really, where do you think you're standing, politically?

- This thing about definitions... I partly feel like an anarchist, and
I don't have any moral. And when I've had a car, I've lost my license
several times. Now I've quit driving, because it didn't work. I'm an
excellent driver, but it got difficult. I had to think in two parallel
thought processes where one was "but I'll make it on time". A musical
way. And the other one was sort of "what am I gonna do? Oh yeah,
that!". Aside from being caught a couple of times, it got very
tiresome after a while. It turned into an inner conflict in every
crossing. Then finally I came to a point when I felt that I was gonna
sell the car. Besides, I'm quite a daredevil. I'm biking like a... The
more I learn, and the better I get...

The more risks you take.

- I think it's hilarious.

But you managed to get a drivers license.

- Yes, I managed to a accept the rules in that sense. I guess I can do
that, at times. In a focused phase, you can repeat just about anything
you're told. Then, after one night's sleep, it's gone.

Is there anything that you can identify with?

- Yes, I feel like I identify strongly with some groups. Once I was
walking on Fridhemsplan, and some drunks were hanging around there,
quite a few, about five or six, and some were young. And my heart
sank. But my boyfriend hardly reacted at all. The human misery and the
self destruction just goes straight into me. It's been that way since
I was little. When I was with my aunt before I started school, she was
a social worker, and I was there once when she met a man who was an
alcoholic. And then I started to cry because I thought it was so
difficult, and then he started to cry because I cried. My aunt just
sat there and didn't know what to do.

- And then when I was about nine years of age I read "Christiane F",
and recognized myself in the book so deeply. I felt like I understood
the entire logic, and the intense human misery. That's when I somehow
got terrified of drug addicts. I got paranoid ideas about addicts.
Then, when I got a little older, I read lots of books about drugs.
I've always been incredibly fascinated by them. Also, it has something
to do with this thing about reality...


- Yes, but that word is more suitable when talking about movies.
Because it's a shallow word for this kind of substance abuse.

But it really is a way to change your perception of reality.

- There are people who have been doing drugs, who are clean now, but
have a lot of experience of it. When I went psychotic I worked with
someone who had experimented with drugs, and it was very easy because
he could recognize everything. Things that he had experienced in
chemically induced conditions.

Do you feel that the border is very fine between...

- It has always been. When that happened, the first time I checked
into a place for people with first-time-psychosis, although I never
had one but rather moved closer to the border, then I got a very
important explanation from a doctor that I'm still in touch with.
Because I've lived with it so long, I have a strong defense. While a
lot of the patients there were having drug or alcohol induced
psychosis, or had a sudden change in life which you're totally
unprepared for, and just pushes you over the edge. But I was prepared.

You've mentioned that media has a monopoly on explaining reality. Is
that the reason you don't give a lot of interviews?

- Yes, but I can perceive media as extremely unreal. And I'm very
sensitive to things like describing reality, even though I think it's
the most interesting thing, because it's very modern in a way. A
hundred years ago, that effect on people's perception of reality
didn't exist. For example, I tend to think that it's horrifying that
everybody is reading the news at the same time. They buy the evening
paper, read the same thing and think the same thing. That's really
scary, I think.

Do you think you keep up to date on the current events of the world?

- I know more about the latest movies than the state of the world, haha.

I've understood that you love movies. Is that the kind of escapism
that appeals to you?

- Yes, because it's about describing reality too, and that's a kind of
dramaturgy that I'm familiar with, and from which I can appreciate
detours. When I saw "Matrix" for the first time, I just sat there,
gaping. It was accomplished with an amazing musicality, something with
the vision and rhythm reminiscent to dancing.

In an interview you gave about five years ago, you said that you feel
a lot of angst looking at your work.

- I'm very egoistic about what I do. And when it's done, then it turns
into a juxtaposition of reality, and people from the outside are going
to look at it in contexts like the music scene, record stores and what
have you. At those times I feel very confused and uneasy. So when I
hear myself on the radio, or even worse, in a clothing store, I might
think "God, this sounds so strange". What a high voice...

That sounds rather tough?

- I guess! But when it comes to my voice, there's not much I can do
about it. It's like your personality. You simply have to accept... It
would be a lot more easy and handy to be invincible and tough, cool
and hard, I don't know. And then it can get a bit tormenting to feel
that vulnerability in a clothing store. Then you wonder if you really
did that deliberately.

Can you make a living, doing what you do?

- Yes, I've been doing really fine up until a few years ago, because
I've had deals with international labels, and then you get good
advances regardless of how much they sell. But the latest album I've
recorded, which hasn't come out yet, was done on my own label which I
share with my ex manager, an Englishman who financed half of it. And
by then there wasn't any money coming in, just a lot of expenses. So
there's been many loans and bank credit the last few years.

Yet, do you feel privileged for being able to work with your art full time?

- That's almost a rhetorical question, so would I have to say no.

But could you see yourself in another context than the one you're in now?

- Possibly I've been thinking like that earlier in my life, that I
ended up doing this by coincidence. But now I feel like I'm in just
about the ideal and only possible position. And that's got a lot to do
with my psyche, having learned more about myself. The creative matters
have been the most important, beyond comparison. They have replaced
human contact in a high degree during my childhood. And they've kept
me reasonably sane.

What's your view on illegal music downloads?

- I don't care that much. First of all, I can't assess the economical
impact they have on me. So I'm not that interested, because it's so
abstract. But then I think that everything anarchistic is rather
appealing, the way it goes against the idea someone had about how
things should be sold. Doing it your own way. Not to mind breaking the

I read a review of your second album, which said you and the author
Mare Kandre are the only ones who dare being un-Swedish.

- Ah, it's the same thing everywhere. I played a great song by bob
hund to an american producer, and he thought it sounded like
everything else. It's just that it's in Swedish. So that which you
find unique maybe isn't. I can't imagine fitting in anywhere else,
that I would be more French if it was in France. I guess I feel
rather... well not rooted in Sweden, but this upbringing in the
seventies, the left, that feels Swedish.

And you didn't get on very well with that?

- No. But it's... The family... How it worked. Rather than Sweden and
the left. But when I think about it I remember it clearly. This movie,
"Tillsammans", I couldn't watch it. Only for three minutes. It wasn't
funny. They mostly got it right and it sure as hell wasn't funny. It
was too much like reality, even though it was supposed to be cheery
and funny. And it really wasn't.

I think most people who have seen it regard it as a funny movie. But
my generation didn't have to go through that. We got to grow up in the
"merry" eighties instead, and that wasn't much fun either. I've got my
share of traumas from back then.

- Ha ha, yes, that was different. Permed hair and puffed sleeves...
Anyways, my dad was a pioneer leader when I was little. It was kind of
like Young Eagles, but communistic. And we went to camps, singing
songs. He really held the flag high. And now he's apparently joined
the liberals.

I know a lot of people from my parents' generation who've gone right
wing in their elder days...

- It's unbelievable. You don't want to accept the old clichés, but...

When I was around five years of age, I went to a kpml(r) camp with my mom.

- I went to a lot of things like that when I was little. My dad is a
psychologist, so he attended the "socialist psychologists" meeting in
Scandinavia each year. There was nude bathing and they slept in

Everything was very libertarian.

- Yes, very... I thought everything was really strange. I couldn't
make sense of it.

A lot of people regard you as a feminist artist, and several of your
songs can be interpreted as feministic, for example "The man with the
gun". How do you feel about that?

- A strong identification with a group, for example a political group,
often springs from insecurity. But it's strange in a way, because my
insecurity gives the opposite effect. In a situation you set out to
find a group where you share values, and have, if you exaggerate, a
desperate need for peers. While my insecurity makes this impossible.

- At the Tempo festival (a documentary film festival in Stockholm) I
was at a seminary called "To talk about the most forbidden - in whose
interest?". It started out from two films, a Swedish one called "Nina,
darling" and the American "Capturing the Friedmans". "Nina..." wasn't
that good, and it wasn't aired by SVT who commissioned it, because it
was so biased, and they were afraid of getting sued. However,
"Capturing..." was great, and fascinating on many levels, about a
truly dysfunctional family. During the seminary, I once laughed at
something someone said. Then Suzanne Osten turned around and looked at
me like a fellow sister, and smiled. And then I felt, oh, that's what
it feels like, this feminism and kinship between "us fellow sisters".
Suzanne Osten turning around and smiling at you every day.

But did it feel good?

- No. Neither did it feel good nor bad. It just felt weird. It really
doesn't happen that much. Even if there are a lot of things in
feminism common to my point of view, those are two different things.
When I grew up I spent a lot of time with my mom and my sister.
Somehow that made me interested in men and male stuff, and I've always
thought the stuff they do is fun and cool. And then I haven't
reflected over it when I've got the question about how it feels being
a woman in a man's world. I've never been able to reply because I
don't feel like a woman in a man's world, I generally feel like an
alien. So the surname is Alien, not Woman.

- There's an amazing need for different kinds of femininity. I'm sure
that goes for men too, but it might be stronger with women because
there are images more distinct than with men. I think it's easier for
men to fall through the cracks, to be strange, weirdos, and keep a low
profile. But I feel that the older I get, the more I become what is
regarded as female. Sometimes I feel like a parody of womanhood, being
unreliable, unstable, an entity of emotion. Having a vision, fainting
or getting headaches. I'm like a parody of the 19th century woman!
I've always preferred hanging around men, but I've never felt like one
of them, and that's the point.

But if you had been around women, maybe you wouldn't have felt like
one of them either.

- No, and maybe that's when it gets worse. But when I'm with men, I
enjoy myself, it's like the cream of the crop, that I'm a tricky
person, and on top of that, I'm a girl. Then it turns into something
acceptable and maybe even positive.

A new record by Stina Nordenstam is coming this spring. She talks
about working in different ways on each album, which make them sound
different from each other. But the voice is the same, just like the
personal lyrics. Her fans can look forward to another album with
deeply personal comments on the times we live in. The record shops
will file it under "alternative" or "independent", regardless of Stina
Nordenstam's own dislike of categorization. Because even though she
doesn't want to identify herself with the group, the group has
identified her.


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Re: 2004 'Political' interview with Stina!!

Post by RobB »

Thanks for pasting up the transcript,Dave. Its far more readable than the Google automated one.

re:Facebook, you only need to search 'stina nordenstam', there are a few on there but none official of course. The one I 'follow' is the 'public group' one:


Paul (pgss) is also one of its followers. :-)

From the whole interview, this is the most interesting part for me, the funding for her albums. It may well partially explain why there have been no further albums:

Can you make a living, doing what you do?

- Yes, I've been doing really fine up until a few years ago, because
I've had deals with international labels, and then you get good
advances regardless of how much they sell. But the latest album I've
recorded, which hasn't come out yet, was done on my own label which I
share with my ex manager, an Englishman who financed half of it. And
by then there wasn't any money coming in, just a lot of expenses. So
there's been many loans and bank credit the last few years.


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Re: 2004 'Political' interview with Stina!!

Post by Martin »

If anyone is interested I was the one conducting the interview. It was very nice and I still think I have the tape recording from it somewhere.

Best regards,

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Re: 2004 'Political' interview with Stina!!

Post by RobB »

Martin wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 10:17 pm
If anyone is interested I was the one conducting the interview. It was very nice and I still think I have the tape recording from it somewhere.

Best regards,
It was an excellent interview,Martin. Whatever questions you had pre-planned,you were clearly (to me anyway) listening intently to Stina's answers and bringing in new questions based on those answers. Although published in February 2004, do you have the actual date of the interview and any anecdotes you can share about your meeting with Stina? :)

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Re: 2004 'Political' interview with Stina!!

Post by sound world »

Welcome here, Martin - especially as someone who has actually met Stina!

That was a great interview - and sadly she didn't make many more - she did a few more in '04, three in '05 and two in '06 ...and then nothing until the 'Tip of my Tongue' interview in 2013, since when - nothing.

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