During my visit at the Rebel Music Festival i met Syster Sol, a wonderful female reggae artist from Sweden. Time was short so i asked her for an e-mail interview a few days ago. Well, here it is. Enjoy the story and the words of Swedens first reggae lady.
When we met in Enköping at the Rebel Music Festival a lot of kids came by to ask for photos and autographs. Did you ever expected to get that far with your music?
Syster Sol: I always had a dream to be able to affect peolpe and to share insights that I’ve gained through my life, but everytime I have a person walk up to me telling me they love my music I am amazed. It’s so surreal and I feel blessed everytime.
It’s said that your mother infected you with Reggae during your summertrips.
Haha, well we used to do a lot of roadtrips in the summertime and my mother used to buy records that we could play in the car to keep the vibe up. She bought these Absolute reggae CD’s and we played them non stop, singing along to all the tracks. I remember one time when we where dancing around our kitchen table to Shaggy’s „Oh Carolina“. Happy times!
Later you formed the band Livelihood and recorded two albums Escapizm (2006) and Sagans Sanger (2007) for SwingKids. Why did you split in 2008?
Well we had different ambitions and it became hard to stick to the same vision. Also, I’d been writing solo songs on the side and felt an urge to try standing on my own. But we’re still really good friends and sometimes we play together in different constellations.
You recorded your solo debut Dömd att bli Bedömd in 2009. While Swedish female artists like Serengeti or Etzia trying to go international with English tunes you stick to your native tongue. How come?
I felt comfortable in doing a record in Swedish at that time but my new record will be both in English and Swedish.
As i don’t understand Swedish (I listen to the music because of the sound of your language and the style) please tell me what your tunes are about.
Wow, that’s a big question :) A lot of my songs are about my own reflections of the reality I live in and insights I want to share. Some people say the lyrics are spiritual and others say they are political. I prefer spiritual if i must put it in a frame. My wish is to write songs that are easy to relate to and that can help be of benefit to all. That’s why I try to not complain to much, but see solutions instead.
Are you dealing with special Swedish topics as well?
No, not really. I try to write as a human being not as a Swedish woman.
A while ago Gillis (Gillis Bengtsson, mastermind behind the Swedish reggae label SwingKids) told me in an interview that artists with Swedish lyrics are higher rated in you country than international stars like Million Stylez or Joey Fever. What’s your opinion on that?
It’s easier for me to get gigs in Sweden i guess. Maybe it’s because Swedes can relate more to their native language. Also I think that peolpe like the fact that it’s quite unique this reggae in Swedish. But on the international arena, Million and Joey have a much bigger crowd.
Also Gillis notes that it’s important for Swedish Reggae artists to have a good live band. Who are you playing with?
Right now I have three backning bands. One is the Gothenburg based Hot This Year Band, the second one is the Stockholm based STHLM Riddim Foundation and the third is a Danish band that used to back Natasja called Ragga Pakk.
Next to your shows and recordings you have a project named „Tell Dem!“.
It’s a reggae and hiphop workshop with focus on inner growth. In the begining it was a workshop for girls but lately we’ve done a few for guys as well. It was an idea that me and my close friend and rapper Cleo came up with a few years ago. We wanted to teach people to deal with emotions and pain through the powerful expression of reggae and hiphop.
Especially girls need to learn to stand up and realize that they have the same space as guys. Also you have to be powerful and confident in order to deliver the lyrics to the crowd in both hiphop end reggae so that’s really helpful in gaining selfconfidence. Also we want to inspire people to try hiphop and reggae because of it’s often stereotype image. Hopefully we’re able to pop a lot of peoples ideas about hiphop and reggae that’s not always true.
Is it still active?
Yes, always! Right now Cleo is more active in that area as I have a lot of work with my record.
Right, you are working on a new album. Any news about that?
It feels really nice cause I’ve really done just the kind of songs I want, not caring about what others might think or what is espected of me. It’s a fun mix of roots, house, techno, dub, Swedish, English and a lot of talented guests.
Thank you very much for the interview, Isabel. I would like to finish the story with my favorite song from your solo debut.
Syster Sol – Ding Ding Värld
- Syster Sol @ WWW
- SwingKids @ WWW