The Swedish singer-songwriter explains the importance of taking chances in your artistry, navigating perfectionism, and more.
Lykke Li’s music is a masterclass in emotion: she peels away layers to candidly discuss heartbreak and sadness, finding confidence in her music. The Swedish singer-songwriter, who made her debut with 2008’s Youth Novels album, returned last March with her fifth album, Eyeye. For the 37-year-old’s most conceptual album to date, she reunited with Peter Bjorn and John’s Björn Yttling, the singer-songwriter’s main collaborator for her first three records. It’s an intimate and stripped-down audiovisual journey which sees her swimming away from heartache.
Alongside her own work, Li has collaborated on projects with David Lynch, Emile Haynie, Woodkid, and Mark Ronson, to name a few. She’s also turned her hand at acting, appearing in 2014’s Swedish crime film Tommy and 2017’s Song to Song.
One of Lykke Li’s best attributes is that she is unabashedly honest about the ups and downs she faces both as an artist and in her personal life — the two are inextricably intertwined — and as she states in this new episode of Best Advice with host Kim Taylor Bennett, music remains her best creative channel.
Check out Lykke Li’s episode here, and read on for some of her key takeaways, below.
“I think the most important thing as an artist is to not be afraid, really push yourself, challenge yourself and be in territories that are difficult and hard. I had spent a lot of time owning this quite specific way of making music. Then I was at a point in my life where I had all these other people who wanted to work with me. It was not the music that I [did], but I'm going to say yes because I'm hungry for new knowledge and I want to be in rooms where I actually don't know anything.”
Remember Your “Why”
“I think anyone who even has a career in the arts or as a writer or painter, it’s because they have a very strong point of view. It’s your job to be honest, to put everything on the line. But if you don't have to write, then don't do it. The urge to do this has to come out and has to be stronger than any self-critique.”
Get to Know Yourself
“I think the most important thing is to really, really get to know yourself and be specific in what it is that you're trying to say. It has to come from very deep inside. Everything I make is this impossible thing that maybe no one will ever see or hear, but it's important for me.”
“We want to feel understood and heard. I think that's what art can really do: make you feel less lonely and feel that there is something greater to this world that we're living in, which is so much about money. So there is a greater reality than just what is here.”
Perfection Isn’t Attainable
“One quote that really helped me [work through the process of perfection] was when I read [a quote from the legendary choreographer] Martha Graham. So she says: ‘There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.’”