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Interviews

Premiere: Watch Jonathan Johansson Crash into the Lyrics of "Alla Helveten"

This is a story about his hometown.
19.2.15

It's been a long time no see for Jonathan Johansson and me. When I say that I talk about when I saw the music video for his "Aldrig Ensam" back in 2009. 'Cause I've actually never met him in person. So when we first got the question if we wanted to premiere Jonathan Johansson's latest music video for "Alla Helveten" [Swedish for "All the Hells"] I thought to myself, I need to call this guy because we have a lot of catching up to do. So I did. Turns out he's a really nice guy who aims to change the world for the better. Noisey: Hi Jonathan. How's it going?
Jonathan Johansson: I'm on the metro, running around in town meeting friends I like and having meetings with people I don’t like that much.

Before we start talking about hells and stuff like that, tell me, where have you been the last couple of years? What have you been up to?
Well, the last thing I released was kind of secret. It was music for Dracula at Uppsala’s Maniple Theatre. [Life's] been going at a high pace but at the same time it's been nice to not only stare at my own belly.

Annons

Somehow I get the feeling that you have a different approach to your music now. What's the difference between the old and the new Jonathan?
The old Jonathan was some kind of a pretentious poet…right?

I don’t know. I think he was significant for Swedish music during those years.
Probably. But the honest answer is that I, and many of my colleagues, have somehow woken up from our self-centered lives and started to look around us to see that everything is going to hell.

What did you see?
For example, that there are fascists in every European parliament. For me, to see that happen, has been extremely uncomfortable. It makes me feel sick. So I guess this is my take on this reality we’re in.

It usually happens interesting stuff in culture when “real” problems appear and more common everyday problems seam to fade away.
Yes I think it's good for the art, to be honest, if it follows the waves of a conjunction. I don’t think art would be better if cities were burning all the time and it was war 24/7. It feels weird to talk about this because obviously it would be better for everyone if everyone just lived in peace, love and harmony.

Is that what this song is all about?
No. Well, "Alla Helveten" is a story about my hometown. I use Malmö as a way to discuss the problems we see in Europe. Malmö embodies a lot of conflicts people are in right now. Segregation, integration, and immigration.

Are you using Malmö as a metaphor for the world today?
Yes, it’s Sweden's Chicago. Extremely silly but that's what the jargong sounds like right now. It makes this a statement for me, to say that, “Of all the hells in the world, I wouldn’t want to come from any other place.”

I see. And about the video – is karaoke also something that’s popular in Malmö or…?
Haha, I'm sure it is. I don’t know. People always tell me they can’t hear what I’m singing. When I made this video with my friends we realised that the video becomes even more powerful if it “frontal crashes” with the lyrics in the song.

I hope it will make people change the world, if they can.
Oh God. It probably won't happen. But I guess you can can hope for it.

"Alla Helveten" is taken from Jonathan Johansson's upcoming album Lebensraum, which will be released on March 18 via Sony Music. Listen to him on Spotify, and follow @jonathanjohanssonhej on Instagram and Facebook.