Interview: Britta Persson

"Oh, Britta Persson has grown some muscles," was my first thought when I first looked at the cover of Britta Persson's debut album, "Top quality bones and a little terrorist" (2006). And boy was I right. With that album Britta went from a shy, but promising talent and started walking the path into becoming an acknowledged artist, capable of standing on her own two legs. Two years has passed and, with the release of her second album, "Kill Hollywood me", Britta Persson is ready to take on everything and just about everyone. This is what she had to say when I called her up prior to the release of the album.
- Christian Stenbacke

I have a hard time to describe the sound of Britta Persson, as found on your last album, "Top quality bones and a little terrorist", with this new album, "Kill Hollywood me", being no different. How would you describe it yourself?

Well, I've been trying to describe the record quite a few times by now. I think it sounds kind of straight forward and a little tricky, but it's hard to tell. The new record sounds both petite when it at the same time sounds very large. We've been working alot with the production on this one, and this time around I knew that I was going to work with lots of different people, including Per Nordmark (Fireside, Hets) who plays the drums. This affected my way of writing music, where I used to write songs which I knew I was going to perform by myself, guitar and voice only, I could now write songs and leave parts where the drums could take over for instance.

"Top quality bones and a little terrorist" and "Kill Hollywood me" differ quite a lot from your earlier releases, why is that and what kind of reactions have you received so far?

I think people like this new sound, I like it for sure. You gradually get better and better on what you do, of course, and I'm really proud of the production on this record and the fact that I've written these songs. So, for me it only feels natural to move on, and hopefully people will like it. From what I've heard, they do so far.

You made one of your first public appearances to a wider audience on Kristofer Åström's "Loupita" (2004), where the two of you sang "The wild" together. A start of a very successful companionship one might say. How did you get to meet Kristofer in the first place?

It feels like a really long time ago now, but it all started when I asked him to sing together with me on one of my songs, and he agreed. As a return of favour he asked me to sing together with him on one of his songs, and I agreed.

A lot has happened since then; the Britta Persson singing and playing on "Kill Hollywood me" sounds like a person with not only great songs, but also lots of courage and self-confidence. Yet when I've gone to one of your concerts, you tend to seem a little... timid.

I've been playing live for so long now, I've been playing so many shows, one might think that I would've gotten used to it by now... Some people are made to be on a stage and some just ain't. Let me put it this way; the stage is not an idealistic place for me to be, even though I like playing live. But this time around I will be bringing a whole band with me, things tend to become a lot easier when you're not all alone up on the stage.

The title, "Kill Hollywood me", what do you mean? What is a "Hollywood Me"?

First of all, there is a song on the record called "Kill Hollywood me". That song is just really a song among many others on the record, when I wrote it I felt like the title, Kill Hollywood Me, was a way of saying that I should stop taking myself so seriously all the time. The grass is not always greener on the other side. One shouldn't be so dramatic all the time, one should be happy!

But I wouldn't say that it sums up me as a person entirely, it's a title on one song and that title went on to name the whole record. It's just one thing of many things that I want to do.

When I've spoken with other artists living in Stockholm they sometimes describe something like a "Hollywood Me"-atmosphere around the clubs and music scene, say when it comes to which bands get to play on the popular venues, which people to talk to and such. Is this something you have experienced yourself?

That might be true, this town is like... sometimes I feel that it's very nice just to stay at home for instance, to write a song maybe, but you tend to forget such things when it's very hectic, as it tends to be most of the times.

You've got lots of guests on this record, Christian Kjellvander and Markus Krunegård from Laakso to name a few, but not Kristofer Åström. How come?

I wanted to make the best possible record that I could make, in order to do that I decided to get some help from all the necessary people I thought could help me with my mission. The reason for Kristofer not being on the album is purely coincidental. He lives in Göteborg these days, and he's away playing with his own band most of the time; there just wasn't an opportunity for him to swing by the studio. Which I'm sure he would have done, had he had the time. But we'll surely work together sometime in the future again; no worries.

In the video for "You are not my boyfriend" pink paint starts running from your nose, colourful paint being a theme for the video. What's your take on the visual part of your music?

I usually let the directors do their thing, even though I still get to have my say and the right to discard ideas I don't like or think will work. But I don't usually look upon myself as an artist in that way, I feel more like a songwriter and musician than an artist. I have somewhat of a phobia of motion picture and music; I think it's silly, but I still try my best.

Both "Top quality bones and a little terrorist" and "Kill Hollywood me", together with the videos for the singles, create something abstract that I directly connect with "Britta Persson". Is this image-making something you need to do in order to survive in the music business?

You need to create good music, but of course, you also need to have some kind of concept or big picture where everything fits as well. I only work with people whom I think do a really good job and whose results I really like. But in the end, it all comes down to the music, good music will always find ways to flourish.