Photo credit: Thobias Fäldt *
“I used to record and compose in my old apartment in Kortedala, which is a suburb outside Göteborg in Sweden. I named the place Kortedala Beauty Center after a hair salon I used to go to where Shirin, who I also sing about, used to work. When they closed down the hair salon I was convinced that my apartment was the only place in Kortedala that produced any kind of beauty.
The place is underneath the ground with no windows and was described to me as the officially worst apartment in the city. The landlord told me when I moved in that the guy who lived there before me died in the bathtub and was lying dead for three months before they traced the leaking water and found him. When I asked why he told me this, he said he thought I would be happy since they had to renovate the bathroom and kitchen due to water damage. Kortedala is a lonely place. After they closed down most of the mental institutions in Sweden in the early 90’s, a lot of the patients were placed in these dark rooms.
The only equipment I had in there was a computer, a piano and a record collection. I got rid of all other stuff about three years ago. I auctioned out my guitars on my website so I could go to San Francisco. I have always worked alone. I would invite friends over occasionally to play instruments I don’t really know, like strings and horns. But isolation is what I’ve built my whole composing routine on. The dreaming part of it, that’s the most important thing, that’s where the feeling comes in. Dialogue only creates awareness of patterns.
I had a very strict process when it came to writing and recording. I would get up early in the morning, from the night before I had carefully folded three white towels and hung them over a chair. I had a cup of tea and ate breakfast. Then I would step out for a second and throw bread crumbles to the Magpies. Occasionally I would throw little white rocks at them or pieces of eggshell. After this I would head back in, frostbitten and sniffling. Then I had supper and afterwards I would do 100 push-ups, wipe my sweaty forehead with one of the towels and then go to bed.
The thing I like best about Kortedala Beauty Center, despite it’s name and all the beauty that came out of it, is that I don’t live there anymore.”
* Photo details: Jens Lekman in Kortedala Beauty Center, a few days before moving out. The picture was taken for Kalendervägen 113.D a companion bonus CD released simultaneously as Night Falls Over Kortedala on Secretly Canadian, featuring a farewell concert played for the apartment.
Swedish musician Jens Lekman is best known for crafting romantic indie pop with a lyrical edge. He plays Whelan’s in Dublin (with a full band) tomorrow, Sunday May 25th. For more information, visit Jens Lekman.