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Singer-songwriter Elina on upcoming debut album ‘Whatever Happens Now’

Ivor Novello-nominated singer-songwriter Elina, who has been releasing a string of singles in anticipation of her debut album, Whatever Happens Now, recently sat down for a chat with Headliner about the creation of the record and her musical journey so far…

Great to be chatting with you Elina; tell us about your week so far.

Thank you for having me! I'm doing ok, it's quite an intense period now with the album and the shows coming up. I try to stay present and rest as much as I can. I'm home in Stockholm at the moment wrapping things up for the release this Friday and enjoying some lovely autumn weather.

Could you talk us through the underlying themes that you explored throughout your upcoming debut album, Whatever Happens Now?

I've had this massive shift within during the writing process of this album. The past few years of letting go of relationships both personally and professionally have been terrifying, but have resulted in so much growth. I feel like this profession, you know, working with music and especially as an artist, can really mess with your head. For such a long time, music and the music community has been the only thing existing in my life. The person underneath all that hasn't gotten a lot of attention. I guess you can say that it's been an existential journey to acceptance and learning to listen to my own body and my own needs, and a lot of that went into these songs.

Has this been an album that has sat with you for a few years, or is this all new work and songs?

It's actually all new. Me, Max and Litens (who I made the album with and who are close friends) started exploring the idea of writing an album together in the spring of 2021 - which is a while ago now so it's not so new to us anymore, haha! But the whole thing was written from scratch. It was such a lovely experience to find time to fully focus on the creative process without any deadlines or any pressure.

As an artist, growth and evolution are integral. In what ways do you believe Whatever Happens Now showcases your artistic progression and sets itself apart from your previous work?

I feel like the writing is definitely as vulnerable and honest as it has ever been. My intention with my artistry has always been to be authentic in all ways possible but I guess I'm still learning how to express my deepest feelings in writing and find a way around the "analysing" and the "overthinking". I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've developed a lot as a writer in that sense. To write straight from my own experiences and feelings without worrying so much about the results of the songs itself. We've also broadened the horizons a bit musically, which has been a lot of fun.

How do you feel like your home influences your music on this album? Do you ever wonder how your sound might differ if you were based elsewhere?

That's an interesting question. I know that my upbringing and the environment at home has shaped my musical journey in so many ways. I've always had the space to create, to sing, write and so on. I guess it's all part of everything I do today and the music I was introduced to early in my life has most definitely paved the way to further exploring of musical influences, sounds and expressions over the years. The space and encouragement you're given as a kid lays the whole foundation for the development of your creativity, I believe.

Image credit: Hampus Hjellstrom

Image credit: Hampus Hjellstrom

Could you take us behind the scenes and share insights into the recording process of the album and how that went? Was it all recorded in Sweden, and were there any memorable moments during the recording sessions?

It was all recorded here in Stockholm, yes. We basically wrote and recorded the full thing in Max's studio room, chatting about life, playing around with sounds and shaping the musical landscapes around the songs together. We were all very much involved in each part of the process, from the writing to the recording to the mixing and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we've learned so, so much. You go through so many stages with an album. You love it, then you question everything. Then you love it again, then you hate it. It's challenging to stay focused and committed during the phases where you don't feel connected at all to the music. Most of the time it's been absolutely lovely though. I remember the afternoon we wrote 'I should've danced more', it was one of those rare songs that just writes itself and we all adored it instantly. Few things can beat that feeling.

You started your journey in music as a songwriter, can you compare the experiences of crafting songs behind the scenes to being the centre of attention as a performer?

It still is the trickiest part of it all for me, the "being an artist"-part. I've never had any wish or goal to be a famous face, really. This artist project was more of a necessity for me to find joy in making music again after several years of not feeling happy with the way I was working. There are definitely pros and cons with both things. Most of all, I feel like the artistry gives me permission to be creative and included in so many different spaces. I get to put together an album, be part of the production of it, help create the visual world around it. As a writer for other artists - even though it was such a valuable experience - it made me feel a bit trapped sometimes. Like, stunted. It's of course part of the job to help someone else create their vision, but I'm not sure if I was perfectly suited for it.

Collaborations can be a source of creativity and inspiration. Are there any artists or musicians you'd love to collaborate with in the future, and why?

Ah there are so many... at the end of the day I guess it's always going to be Chris Martin who will top that list. His ability to use simplicity in the most powerful, astonishing way is absolutely beyond me.

Elina’s debut album Whatever Happens Now is out this Friday, when she will also play a headliner show at OMEARA in London.