• photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG

    An interview with Anna Nordenström

    Written by Michaela Myhrberg

    Call Me

    Up and coming songbird and writer (Call Me), Anna Nordeström, creates sad and lucid pop music. The sound is young but the voice has got the sound of experience. The album A Sort of Company, just released on the 25th will keep you from feeling alone, or get you feeling lonelier depending on what side of the bed you woke up on. Either way it's a very impressive first record. 

    Anna grew up in the quiet small town of Karlstad, but later on moved to Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden, where she started high school in a musically focused class. She quickly became tired and uninterested in it all because of the strong social structures surrounding her. For example she says, “I played a lot of jazz music, but most people were convinced that girls could only sing jazz”. Those kinds of patriarchic rules ruined the fun and joy of music. It wasn't until her move to Stockholm that she felt excepted and found her place in the social contexts. That is also when she started enjoying creating music again; but this time on her own terms.

    MM: So what happened in Stockholm?

    AN: In the beginning not that much. A friend of mine asked me to play at one of his clubs, I think he'd heard me sing or something and I said yes. I didn't have any songs then, but this event gave me a reason to start making music again. I did everything by myself which gave me a freedom I'd never experienced with music before. It was liberating. I performed at the event and in the band Palpitation, which got on stage right after me I found Ilon Vejde who later became my producer.

    MM: What happened after you released your first song on Soundcloud?

    AN: There were a lot of bloggers who wrote about the song and I'd just started talking with Ilon about a collaboration so we decided to start working on one song. We released in on Soundcloud and later got a call from the record label Luxury.

    MM: When all of this started, did you think that music could be an actual career for you?

    AN: No, I just thought it was fun, I had no expectations whatsoever. Of course it became a lot more business when I started working with Ilon, we didn't really know each other then so it was strictly work. Ilon's the one who definitely developed the sound of the record.

    MM: What do you think your music sounds like?

    AN: That's a difficult question, but I think it's quite melancholic, although at the same time there are glimpses of hope. I hope that's what others feel too when they listen to it. As the title of the album says, I hope that the record can be a friend and a company to others.

    MM: What do you think will happen when the record's out?

    AN: I really like the album and that's most important to me. I know my mom and dad will listen to it and that they'll like it. I'm trying not to get too high expectations. I mean, I'd love it if I could work in music business for a long time, but I won't put all of my cards in one place. Mostly I'd like to perform, I'm a tired of sitting in the studio for now.

    MM: So it gets lonely?

    AN: Maybe not lonely but monotone. The thing I really love about music is being on stage and preforming live for an audience.

  • photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG

    An interview with Damian Ardestani

    Written by Michaela Myhrberg

    XOV – who used to kick it with Lucifer

    Do you know anyone who spends his or her time between LA and the Swedish archipelago? No? Didn't think so. There's quite the contrast between the sleepy and empty islands outside of Stockholm and the dreamy Hollywood hills in the USA. Two years ago Damian Ardestani isolated himself in a cabin, started writing, playing the piano and created what will be his first EP.

    We meet at the Odalisque Magazine studio space, grab some coffee and take our seats in the kitchen area. I had just finished reading an interview with Damian in the largest daily newspaper in Sweden and I've been listening like crazy to his songs Lucifer and Boy's don't cry. This guy's got a fantastic sore voice and writes melancholic and miserable lyrics.

    MM: First I thought you might tell me some about your EP that's being released on the 14th this month; what are people going to hear? I've already heard it all, but for those who haven't, what are they in for?

    DA: You will be listening to the last five years of my life. The EP's a journey starting out in a darkness that evolves into anger and sorrow but finally in the end becomes something positive and at parts even joyful. All of the songs contains different parts of my life, none of them are alike or about the same thing in any way.

    MM: Did you also produce it all by yourself?

    DA: I produce everything with a friend of mine, Jonas; he's also called Kono. I would love for him to finally get some credit, it's really a great collaboration. Kono has been essential for the entire project and he pushes me in becoming a better producer and artist. I can get hung up on one tiny detail for days but he's got a good overlooking eye and I think that's what made us able to make this music. We have got a good balance. Also he's got a background in pop music and I've got my roots in hip hop.

    MM: I notice that, I wasn't sure if I was listening to pop music or R'n'b when I was going through your songs.

    DA: I know, I've got the music on a fine line. Is it commercial, is it indie, is it pop or even hip hop? I don't know but it's a result of our collaboration coming from different musical backgrounds. I think it keeps the music dynamic and original.

    MM: How did you meet Kono?

    DA: We met at an event seven years ago. At that point I hadn't started pursuing a career in music, so no one really knew I was a musician back then. When I'd decided to make myself a name in the industry I contacted the only guy I knew working in the business and that was him.

    MM: Growing up were you always into music or did that interest evolve later in your life?

    DA: For as long as I can remember I've had an interest in music. As soon as I learned how to write I started making poetry. When I was only nine years old I got my first poem published in a children’s poetry book and already then my writing was dark and metaphorical. For me writing is a way to ventilate; it's like therapy. If I don't write I get consumed by my feelings. I later learned how to play the piano which turned into singing and at the age of eleven, when singing wasn't considered cool enough, I started rapping. Music's always been a natural part of my life.

    When you've been working on something for two years and then finally it gets ready for the public, it must be some kind of experience, good or bad. Damian tells me the feeling's painful but of course also liberating in a way. When we have our talk it's exactly one week before the EP's being published. There's no room for changes. Damian's a perfectionist and being both artist, songwriter and producer gives him a control that's hard to let go of. He says he's probably a pain in the ass to work with, since the work never ends when you're looking for what's just perfect. But sometimes being done is better than being perfect.

    MM: How come you only write in English and not Swedish?

    DA: I grew up listening to American hip hop and most of my family lives in the states, so it comes naturally. I've always spent a lot of time there, holidays and school breaks, I never really felt I was Swedish until about two years ago. I felt as I was a citizen of the world.

    MM: But you grew up in Sweden right?

    DA: I always lived in Sweden but since I travelled a lot I never really thought of myself as a Swede. Until now.

    Damian splits his time between LA and Sweden, spending three months at a time in each place, I'm not convinced he chose the right months for being up in the north since it's raining / snowing outside and I'm pretty sure the weather situation's much better in California at the moment. It seems like a struggle living on an island with only boat connections in the middle of winter.

    MM: What happened two years ago when you moved to the archipelago?

    DA: You know, things have a tendency to always happen at once. When things are good, it all happens at once and when things go bad, it all happens at once.

    My company and therefor my economy crashed, my relationship crashed and I found myself completely in chaos. It's easy for people to judge you and I felt I had to get away from being victimized. Everyone thought I was screwed, they thought my music career was over. No one thought I was going to make it. I felt I had to cut the chords with all the negative people in my life, so I just left.

    Growing up in Tensta, a close suburb to Stockholm it wasn't really as if Damian was used to being outdoors and all alone surrounded by nothing but the forest. But with some inspiration from the movie Into the Wild he saw his chance for change. For the first six months he only went into the city twice, the only one who visited was his mother and once in a while a close friend came by. Nowadays he actually has more journalists visiting than friends.

    MM: Will you move in to the city now?

    DA: No, I will always keep the cabin. It keeps me grounded.

  • 6.12.14

    I was looking for Park Hyatt Tokyo

    Written by Jörgen Axelvall

    I wasn’t really looking for Park Hyatt Tokyo. I never even stayed there. I was on a budget and I was sleeping on my friend’s sofa in Shinjuku, not far from the hotel of my dreams. I was a tourist and my mode of transportation was a bicycle. Biking in a new city can very quickly take you far and beyond your familiar route. That happened, and I was happily lost most of the time. As long as I could see the at least the tip of Park Hyatt Tokyo, I could find my way home. I was looking at Park Hyatt Tokyo.

    As a newcomer and foreigner, Tokyo can be quite overwhelming. It is after all the world’s largest metropolitan area. When I started photographing Park Hyatt Tokyo my real home was NYCJust like when I first moved to NYC, the old World Trade Center served me in the same way, as a charismatic and recognizable landmark.

    I would imagine it’s not easy to design an attractive 52-story building, a skyscraper that is a harmonious part of the skyline, yet truly unique and effortlessly becomes the center of attention. But the architect Kenzo Tange got it right. Without being lit up in all the colors of the rainbow or even being the tallest*, the Shinjuku Park Tower, its official name, stands out. The three-element structure has a different profile depending on from where you look at it, yet it is always recognizable.

    When Sofia Coppola’s movie “Lost in Translation” came out in 2003, it also brought attention, in a very sublime way, to Park Hyatt Tokyo. I love that movie. When you watch “Lost in Translation” you get a sense that Park Hyatt Tokyo is the place to stay in Tokyo. Although the actual Park Hyatt Tokyo name is mentioned only two times throughout the movie, it plays the important role as safe house from the bustling and chaotic Tokyo. You can feel the tranquility and beauty of the John Morford designed interiors. I was in awe and wanted to be part of it.

    That is why, when I arrived for a month long stay in 2008, it was the only familiar place in Tokyo and as soon as I saw the building I had to photograph it. I took the very first photograph of Park Hyatt Tokyo from the bus coming into Tokyo from Narita airport. Being a photographer I soon took picture number two and three from different angels just to make sure I got it. When I pointed my camera at the building for the fourth time, the tower was already my guiding star and I thought to myself: “Hey, this would make a great book”.

    The following years I spent at least a month every year in Tokyo and in 2011 I finally made it my new home. Throughout the years I kept photographing Park Hyatt Tokyo. Randomly, whenever the building popped into view. I highly doubt I will stop, even after this book is published.

    Thank you Mr. Tange and Mr. Morford, creators of the body and a soul of Park Hyatt Tokyo, and thank you Mrs. Coppola for giving it a life of its own.

    *currently the Shinjuku Park Tower ranks as Tokyo’s 7th tallest building.

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