Artist of the Week: Lykke Li
There are many artists who come out of the gate with an impressive debut album only to release their second one to lackluster results. And then there’s Lykke Li. Born in Sweden, the 28-year-old singer released two stellar albums that highlight her wonderful vocals and natural ability to connect with fans through her passionate lyrics about life and love.
Lykke first gained notoriety for her single “Little Bit,” and has become one of the most consistent indie artists of the last decade. She released Youth Novels to waves of attention, and her debut turned her into a critical darling from the jump. Her second album Wounded Rhymes saw her develop her sound. While its foundation is the same charming pop that made the first album shine, her sophomore project is packed with a more lush, ethereal maturity.
Lykke Li released her third album I Never Learn on May 6, and it is arguably her best project to date. With compact, powerful standouts like “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone” and “No Rest For The Wicked,” the third installment of her album trilogy solidifies Li as one of our generations most emotionally honest musicians. Earlier this month she set out on a brand new headlining tour through North America and Europe in the coming months. To get a better understanding of just how incredible her career has been thus far, we’ve highlighted her journey from living in the little town of Ystad in Sweden to rocking crowds of thousands across the globe. Click through the thumbnails above to get to know her, and pick up tickets to catch Lykke Li in your city here.
1. Experiencing the World as a Kid
Lykke Li was born in Ystad, Skåne County, the southernmost part of Sweden, though her time living there was short as her family moved around throughout her adolescence. By her teenage years, Lykke had already spent time living in Portugal, Morocco, Nepal, and India. These experiences opened up her view of the world, which gave way to finding her own voice through music.
2. Being Influenced by the Likes of Bob Dylan and the Beatles
Lykke Li cites several major artists from the 1960s as her inspiration for pursuing music. Among those musical acts are Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, as well as Neil Young. While we call her music pop, there's clearly a big place for folk and rock 'n roll in her heart.
3. Creating Her Unique Sound
Lykke Li has made the most of her talents by building around her soprano vocals, which is the highest vocal range for a female singer. This has allowed her to develop a unique style of indie pop while still being soulful enough to display her full musical reach.
4. Her Breakthrough Single “Little Bit”
Potential met execution on Lykke Li’s first single, “Little Bit.” Featuring a dreamy vibe, she beautifully sings about her affections for her partner while still preserving her innocence throughout. The record soon gained traction in the United States and Europe, and Lykke was on her way to breaking into the mainstream.
5. Releasing Her Debut Album Youth Novels
Following the success of “Little Bit,” Lykke Li released her debut album Youth Novels in 2008. The project displayed her angelic voice mixed with emotional tales about life, love, and heartbreak. Though anchored by “Little Bit,” Youth Novels also featured standout tracks like “Hanging High” and the enchanting “I’m Good, I’m Gone.” Lykke Li even weaved in elements of funky synth on “Breaking It Up,” an upbeat record that showed just how versatile she was.
6. Building on Her Success With Wounded Rhymes
Three years after Youth Novels, Lykke Li was ready to set a deeper tone with her music. Enter Wounded Rhymes, a darker and more mature project that pushed her boundaries not only as an artist, but also as a person. “I was 19 when I recorded my first album, and I've been exposed to many things during these last few years,” she told Pitchfork in 2010. “I dove into the craziness and did things that maybe I would think twice about when I get older.” Wounded Rhymes ended up exceeding the acclaim of Youth Novels, with her single “I Follow Rivers” climbing into the top 10 of several different European countries’ charts.
7. Earning Multiple Awards at the Swedish Grammys
The accolades for Wounded Rhymes didn’t stop there, as Lykke Li also won two Swedish Grammys in 2012 for work on her sophomore album. She won Best Album and Best Artist, the two biggest awards of the event.
8. Winning Over New Fans at Major Music Festivals
Along with her music, another area that Lykke Li has also excelled at is her live performance. Within the last few years the Swedish singer has performed at major music festivals like Coachella, Glastonbury, and Lollapalooza, showcasing her high energy stage presence and incredible live vocals.
9. Expanding Her Reach Into the Fashion World
Not one to hold back on other creative endeavors, Lykke Li recently teamed up with designer label & Other Stories to develop her own capsule collection. Her all black clothing line will launch in Europe this fall, with a U.S. launch also expected to take place within that same time frame.
10. Her Latest Album, I Never Learn
Lykke Li released her third album I Never Learn on May 2. Even with her past successes, Lykke Li saw this new project as an opportunity to truly display her talents in a way she hadn't before. “I always feel like I've been slightly misunderstood,” she told NME. “I really feel like I've found my voice.” She dropped two singles from the project, “No Rest for the Wicked” and “Gunshot,” which showcase just how powerful her music can be. pick up a copy of I Never Learn for more.
August 18, 2014 via Pepsi