I’ve always had a husky voice, and that was fine — until my schedule went from this to this. I did Jimmy Kimmel Live! and I knew something was wrong. I could barely sing one song. I was on tour in Australia with Katy Perry. The doctors told me it was a cyst and that I needed surgery. I panicked. They said I could do the two last shows; my family came all the way from Sweden to be there. I played my last show in New Zealand — I was crying my eyes out.
After the surgery I woke up in pain, and the doctor said, “I want you to make a little hum so we know: Is your voice still there?” It was. But I couldn’t say anything else for five days. I almost choked on a spring roll because I wasn’t supposed to cough! My voice started coming back a little; it sounded very different at first, which is scary.
I was allowed to start singing two weeks before South by Southwest. I had my first proper show there. I’m usually never nervous, but I was shaking, like in high school, when I first started to sing. The show went great. It’s amazing to be back! But I have to be very careful and very healthy. The worst are alcohol and cigarettes — the two that are legal. I stopped smoking weed too. I just eat it — it works just as well.
— As told to Alex Gale
This story originally appeared in the April 18th issue of Billboard.