Meet Alice Boman. The Swedish singer-songwriter first earned global hype back in 2014, after the near-viral reception to her haunting bedroom demo “Waiting,” and striking follow-up EP II and Skisser / Remixed sets.
The latter featured a stunning re-work of her breakthrough hit “Waiting” from PAL, which was quickly poached by Amazon’s groundbreaking Transparent series for a sync in the series’ premiere of its second season, which also featured a guest-starring spot from Boman to perform the track.
The sonic match was so strong that Amazon decided to make the sync a recurring one, using the track as a thematic motif throughout the season. “I’m a huge Transparent fan, so it felt like a dream. It still feels like a dream,” Boman gushes. “Having your song in a series or a movie, you always reach out to new people naturally. That’s a way for me to discover new music too.”
After a whirlwind ascent, Boman returned last month with the release of her striking new single and visual “Dreams,” filmed in the otherworldly setting of Vårhallarna, Sweden, a homebase of her family and a childhood haven for the musician, just a short train ride away from Copenhagen. Boman suggests making the trek in August or September as “the tourists are gone” and “the sea is warmer.” she says of the inspiring region. “It is actually famous for it’s light. They say it has something special with it, which is why a lot of artists live there.”
Directed by Jeanne Lula Chauveau and with creative direction from Chauveau and photographer Aëla Labbé, the new clip was meant as an homage to the oasis, the perfect setting for the mournful track, inspired by the feeling that you’ve lost something, and how important it is to hold on to your dreams, “or find new ones,” she adds.
“Vårhallarna, where this video is shot, is such a special place to me. I have spent so much time there, because my grandmother has a house 2 minutes away, and when I go there I always feel calm and inspired,” Boman says of the clip’s unique landscape. “I wanted Vårhallarna’s magic and beauty to be the core of this video – as a homage to the place and to all the memories. I just love this place so much. The rocks and the ocean. The light. Sitting there, looking out at the sea.”
Below, Billboard caught up with the troubadour to learn more about this majestic locale, her unique ascent, and how her “simple and classic” style is mirrored in her music.
You’ve earned worldwide praise for your haunting melodies and sparse arrangements – did you know when you wrote “Waiting” that it would lead to such success?
No, I had no idea that it was that special. I mean, you never really know what it is people will connect with and why. I didn’t even think of it as a finished song when I recorded it. It was just a demo. So it was a big surprise to me, yes.
How has it been to see your recordings – which have an intimate, bedroom-style quality to them – get so much attention. Has it affected the way you write or your process?
I don’t think it has affected the way I write. I hope not. Or, I mean I guess now I know that some people will actually listen to it which is different from when I wrote those first songs. So there is a new awareness. It might change how you look at things, you might become more critical. But that’s not when writing. The reason for writing is still the same. To express something. A certain emotion or thought.
“Dreams” your new single builds on your origins to offer a bit more of a robust arrangement – where did you record?
It was recorded in a studio in London, connected to my publishers office, by Fabian Prynn who is the studio engineer. We’ve been working on the whole album there. Him, me and Tom Malmros, my manager, kind of co-produce everything. And Ed Horrox is also helping out, with an extra pair of ears. It’s great. We just felt like it was the natural thing to do, to add some more instruments to these new recordings and work more on arrangements, playing around with layers and dynamic.
Your EP II cover is very iconic for your fans and so unique – how did you choose that image and why did it stand out/what did it convey to you?
That’s actually a picture a friend took of me one evening when we were heading out for dinner. And I just loved it. And when we were discussing the cover for the EP I came to think of that photo. You can’t see who it is, but it’s me. It’s a part of me, like the songs are a part of me. It’s a bit mysterious. I like that.
How would you describe your personal style, and does it reflect your music?
Simple, timeless, color. I’ve never thought of it, but I guess they reflect each other pretty good. I like it when things are simple. The feel of a certain fabric. A certain color combination. Clean aesthetics. A timeless feel. And that’s kind of how I want my music to feel too; simple but beautiful.
Favorite piece to wear on stage while performing and why?
I haven’t played live in a long time but I had 2 shows recently, wearing the silver jacket from the “Dreams” video. And I love wearing it. Because I don’t wear it normally. So when I wear it I am another Alice Boman. The singer. I think it’s good to have special stage clothes, to make you feel more aware of what you’re doing. Sadly the trousers were torn apart when I was swimming in them, otherwise I would wear them too.
What’s your most beloved vintage/thrift find?
Oh, hard to choose. A pair of white shoes that I found in a thrift store in New York. And a Harley Davidson tee. And a pair of pink velvet trousers. I think I probably have an item of clothing from every city I’ve played in. I love that, wearing those clothes and thinking about where and when I bought them. They are like souvenirs.
Who are some of your favorite Swedish/local designers to wear?
I love Hope and Acne. But I rarely buy new clothes. I mostly buy things second hand.
Favorite clothing shop in Sweden?
Aplace is a fun store with clothes from a lot of different designers, many Scandinavian ones. Otherwise; Humana and Myrorna.
You currently live in Stockholm – if we spent one weekend in town, where should we go?
I moved there with a couple of friends last year. Stockholm is such a beautiful city and I love that there’s so much water in and around the city. It’s really beautiful to take walks around town. And there are a lot of nice restaurants and bars. I love Lao Wai, a vegan Chinese restaurant. And Minh Mat, a Vietnamese place. And Vina, a great wine bar. And Bio Rio, a cinema and bistro, all in one. And I love the area around Mariatorget, there are a lot of nice coffee places around there. And a great tapas place: Racamaca.
I know Vårhallarna, where this video was shot, is such a special place to you – tell us about your first memories there and why it holds such significance?
I spent all my childhood summers there and have so many great memories of that place. Of spending whole days at the beach, with my family. Of picking blueberries and mushrooms in the forest. Of eating ice cream in the harbor. Stuff like that. Childhood memories. And the house, it reminds me so much of my grandfather. He built much of it. Just being an amateur handyman. It’s impressive. He put a lot of his soul in that place. When I go there now I disconnect from the world around me and just relax and enjoy the nature and the company of whomever I’m there with. It’s an oasis to me.
What was the video production like – how many were in the crew and tell us about filming process – any anecdotes to mention?
It was such a fun experience. Jeanne (the director/filmer) and Aëla (the photographer) was the two creative ones. And their partners/sambos were there, helping out. And Aëlas’ 3 months old baby. And two friends of mine. And it was so lovely, spending time together, getting to know each other, taking walks, eating, drinking. And talking about life and art. We got up super early each day, to catch the light before sunrise, and also filmed at sunset, so we didn’t sleep much.
An expression we used a lot was: ”Tout pour l’art!” (Anything for art!) When I had to be in the 13 degrees water for a longer time, freezing like crazy. And when we had to get up at 3 am. And when my trousers were torn apart again and again (Stéphane, Aëlas partner, kept on repairing them with tape). And when I nearly burned my whole hand because the whole torch was set on fire; Tout pour l’art! It was funny.
I love the silver futuristic outfit in the visual – how did you choose that and why?
Thanks. I love it too. I just thought it would be a nice contrast to the rocks, and also very pretty, with something shiny. And then it was even prettier then I thought, because of how the light was reflected in it, like a mirror. Emmy Rengfors was the one helping me design it and make it, she’s great.
For tourists, what would be your 5 must-hit locales while in town?
Oh, there are so much to see at Österlen (the name of the area), called ”the Provence of Sweden”:
Apotekarens Trädgård (Simrishamn): A great restaurant/flower shop where you can sit in their amazing garden/couryard and eat. Their pizzas are so good.
Suckarnas Gång Loppis (Simrishamn): Visit the outside flee market that is held every Saturday from April-September. And then take a walk in the ”Old Town” of Simrishamn, it’s very cute.
Knäbäckshusen (outside of Kivik): Such a beautiful beach, lined with leaning trees. It is truly amazing. And if you like walking, you can walk along the beach to Stenshuvud, which is a nature reserve where you walk up a hill and get a nice view of the coast.
Haväng: Another beautiful nature reserve on the coast. Big grass hills ending in the ocean. It’s stunning.
Daniel Berlin (Skåne Tranås): A Michelin restaurant a 30 minute car ride from Simrishamn.