In the winter of 2007, a shy young Swedish woman took the stage at New York's Mercury Lounge for an industry showcase. She was pleasant, she was pretty - and she was totally forgettable. A year later, performing at the MTVu Woodie Awards, the same girl was transformed - confident, captivating, in control, and very memorable.
From her beginnings as an indie darling, Lykke Li (real name: Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson) has grown in to something of a pop star. She might not have the name recognition of her countrywomen Robyn, but she's got plenty of mainstream bonafides, including performances at Coachella and Lollapalooza and an appearance on the "Twilight: New Moon" soundtrack.
As she prepares to release her second album, "Wounded Rhymes," out Tuesday (March 1) on Atlantic, Zachrisson and her team are hoping to move her career forward without alienating her base. Though her previous album, "Youth Novels," was widely praised and much-discussed, it only sold 65,000 copies in the US, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
For "Wounded Rhymes," Zachrisson again teamed with Bjorn Yttling of the band Peter, Bjorn and John. "I knew I wanted to keep it intimate and work with the same people," she says. "I feel like I grew so much as a live performer over the course of touring the last record, and I wanted to bring that in to the studio with me."
Zachrisson adds that her main focus is on her songwriting and performing, and she's not terribly interested in sharing the details of her life on Twitter. "If anything, I'd like to be more private," she says. "I don't really have anything else to say that I don't say in my songs."
Chris Stang, product manager at Atlantic, says he thinks Zachrisson could cross over to the mainstream with her new record. "She's got a big fanbase already and we want to reach them, so we're paying mindful attention to the blogs and indie publications," he says.
As with her first album, the response from music supervisors has been very positive, according to Stang. "We're already had a placement in Grey's Anatomy and in the promos for Hawaii 5-0," he says. "I'm pretty confident that this is only the beginning."
A video for the first single, "Get Some," is airing on MTVu and MTV2, and two other videos, for the tracks "Untitled" and "I Follow Rivers" have been posted on YouTube.
Last year, Zachrisson was named as one of the official faces of the Levis Curve ID Collection; Stang says her presence in the fashion world will continue to be part of her image. "Fashion has always responded to both her looks and her music," he says. "Photographers really want to work with her and we've found the fashion press have always been pretty far out front with her."
Zachrisson says she plans on spending most of the rest of the year on tour, but admits she'd spend more time in the studio if she could. "I miss writing songs when I'm not doing it," she says. "I write out of necessity - it's something I feel like I have to do."