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A Swedish Jazz-improv Singer Who Sings All Crazy

Our new favorite singer is Lindha Kallerdahl, a Swedish chanteuse who combines pretty, quiet singing with these improvisational vocal stylings that, honestly, we're having a hard time describing. It's like a little bit of every kind of sound that a...

Our new favorite singer is Lindha Kallerdahl, a Swedish chanteuse who combines pretty, quiet singing with these improvisational vocal stylings that, honestly, we’re having a hard time describing. It’s like a little bit of every kind of sound that a person can make. Shrieking, wailing, hiccupping, yodeling, warbling, chirping, burping, sneezing, panting, grunting, etc., etc. If you tried to transcribe it, it would be like: “Goo-ree! Goo-ree! Hup! Heeee! Lalalalala-leeeeee-aaaaah-ooooooh-eeeee, heep-hoop! Sha la la lup dup dup DOOP! Bleega bleega kooweep!” Stuff like that.

She’s been described as “Björk with Tourettes” (by us, in last month’s reviews section), and we really mean that in the best, most exciting way. Her latest album,



, was recently put out by ESP-Disk, the 1960s New York-based avant-garde label that brought us Sun Ra, free jazz, songs sung in Esperanto, a yodeling astrologer, and Patty Waters—a 60s free-jazz vocalist who also sang kinda crazy sometimes. If you’re bored of hearing women sing like timid little mice after inhaling a balloon full of helium (as you should be), we highly recommend you check this stuff out.

Vice: How did you learn to sing like that?

Lindha Kallerdahl:

Since I was a child, I always wanted to sing. I applied to a music school and I learned two jazz standards for the audition, but then they asked me if I could improvise and I didn’t understand what they meant. I’ve never been interested in music in the studying way, for me music is really a spiritual thing.

So you never learned how to play piano either?

No. My husband is the pianist. Actually when I recorded my album,


, it was all improvisation. I had two days in the studio, and after a while I got really bored by myself and there was this grand piano there. I asked the man who worked in the studio if I could play on it, so he put a microphone on it and I improvised.

That’s incredible. I figured you were classically trained in opera and piano and jazz and everything.

Thank you! Everyone thinks that, ever since I was a child. I don’t practice, but I do think a lot and dream a lot.

So you don’t even practice for live performances?


No, but I have students and I do workshops where I speak in front of a hundred people. I think that’s my way of practicing. I also do yoga and mantras, and I use my body because it’s also about muscles. I have a three-year-old son and he sings a lot so I learn from his sounds too.

Do you sing to your son? Does he like that?

No, I’m not allowed to. [


] He says to me, “Mama, you shouldn’t sing.”

What a little brat! Just kidding. Do your students want to learn how to sing like you? Can you teach them that?

That’s the hard trick because I can’t teach anyone anything but to be themselves. I can try to see something that they have forgotten about themselves, maybe that they are good people or something, and then I try to tell them how good they are or how beautiful their voice sounds. But I don’t practice techniques because I feel that there are a lot of energy thieves in this world, and they don’t want to learn, they just want my energy.

Is there a religious aspect to your performances? Do you go into a trance or speak in tongues?

When people ask me, “What do you believe in?” I say, “Everything.” I wouldn’t say that I speak in tongues, but I would say that I do not think at all, or at least I try my best not to. When I succeed, it’s a flow of music, with the spirit of music and the spirit of myself and the spirit of everyone in the room. My thing is to work with my body and try my best to be a human in this world, which is not that easy.


It must take a lot of bravery too.

Everyone always says that to me. But I don’t have a choice. I think I’m made of music.

How do you decide which noises to make, or do you just turn your brain off and whatever comes out, comes out?

Yeah, I don’t decide because when I decide something, then everything disappears. The music says, “I want to fly. You want to fly, Lindha? Shut up and just sing.”

I know you did a collaboration with Sonic Youth. Were you a fan of their music?

I had never heard them before, because I don’t listen to music that much.

You don’t listen to any music?

Well, I hear music all the time in my head anyway. I’ll have one CD that I’ll listen to for four months. It gets me disturbed when I listen to a lot of things at the same time, but when I sing, I think I can sing everything at once.

Are there any CDs you’ve been listening to lately that you could mention?

I’ve actually been listening to Bruce Springsteen. He was here in the summer, and in Sweden everyone loves him. I was really curious because he seems to be such a nice person. So I got some records and I listened to them and I really, really think he is a good spirit.