• photography Sandra Myhrberg

    fashion Alicia Hurst


    jacket Deadwood

    earring Lotta Hasselblad

    Varas and the Highs and Lows of Being in Your 20s

    Written by Natalia Muntean by Sandra Myhrberg

    As a child and teenager, Varas aspired to the greatness of legendary artists like Queen, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. Growing up in a small town two hours outside of Gothenburg, he was influenced by his dad being a dancer. Witnessing his dad's performances on stage got him curious about what it would feel like to take on different identities. He recalls that seeing his dad perform helped him to feel comfortable performing “and cured a little of the stage fright that you can have.”

    But the moment he realised the impact music would have on his life was during a car ride when he was about 12, when“the best ballad ever,” as proclaimed by his dad, came on the radio. The song was “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin and it ignited something within him. “We just sat there for seven, eight minutes, and listened to the whole track. That was pretty mind-blowing.” This was a significant turning point, sparking a newfound interest in guitar playing. He then spent the next couple of years immersed in YouTube tutorials, teaching himself how to play the instrument. “Stairway to Heaven” was, of course, the first song he learned to play. “I think I wouldn’t make music if there weren’t other people I liked or were inspired by,” says Varas, a moniker for Benjamin Munoz Varas.
    He formed his first band at 13, an experience that lasted for a couple of years and was influential. However, it was at 19 when he delved into computer-based production, unlocking the ability to craft complete songs beyond his guitar and vocal skills. He honed his producer skills to help others create the songs they imagined. Putting his talent and skills to others’ use meant not only gaining experience - “it is rewarding to get out of my head sometimes.”
    Producer, songwriter, and emerging artist, 25-year-old Varas released his second EP “There You Go!”, this spring. The creative process took over two years, with him writing and producing it. “When I make music, I aim to connect with myself on a deeper level and put out music that truly represents me,” he says. Detaching oneself from one’s own thoughts or others’ expectations can be difficult. “Sometimes I get caught up in overthinking or trying to please everyone else and I constantly have to filter out those influences,” says Varas.
    Listen to the EP here.

    There is Varas the music project and there's also Benjamin Munoz Varas, the person. Do you have trouble separating those two sides? Or do you not intend to separate them?
    At the beginning, I think I separated them a bit more. Maybe that was because I didn't really see myself as an artist at all, and maybe I was somebody that was ashamed to do it. But it's the same person.

    When did you see yourself as an artist?
    Maybe during the pandemic, which is ironic, or maybe it happened because I was getting older. I always wanted to do creative things but I wasn't an artist. It felt like such a big word. And then when I decided to see myself as an artist, it became easier to work and come up with original ideas. I take pride in it.

    So it was mostly a thing you did to yourself, you just decided?
    Yes, I realised during the pandemic that I really wanted to do music because I wasn't feeling good when I couldn't play live or meet people. It became very clear to me that this made me feel good and I just wanted to do that. I realised what kept me happy when I didn't have it in my life.

    What inspires your creative process?
    Other people's work, like books or poems or songs, movies. Mostly, my inspiration comes from the outside.

    What works have touched and influenced your music lately?
    One book that inspired me lately is Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson.  It's inspiring to me how some people can write sentences and combine words you wouldn't expect to mix. It’s the same with music - mixing a style with another style you didn't expect. It feels like there aren't any limitations.

    Your music blends different genres. How do you decide which ones to incorporate into your songs? And how do you ensure they go together?
    It depends on my mood and the energy I want to exert. Different genres have different attitudes and what you get out of them, so I don't really have many no-gos within genres. If it fits what I feel, I take inspiration from it.

    How would you describe your sound?
    It’s some kind of pop, but it's influenced by many things, mostly 70s rock, 2000s indies. And hip hop. Sometimes hip hop can feel like it's not been processed but that's intentional, and I like it when things sound raw.

    Can you talk about some of your recent songs such as HELL NO, and what inspired it?
    With this song it was about the feeling of being sick of being responsible, I guess and just always, always meeting deadlines and always doing your work. Which is, of course, rewarding because you get things done, but sometimes you feel like a robot, and then a year has passed and it's still the same thing. If you don't have a hamster wheel, that's all you desire. Sometimes you want to get into routines and then when you have them, you're not happy anyway, so we can never truly win, I guess. But the other songs are about being in your 20s because it feels like there are a lot of things to learn at this age. I remember at 18-19 my only goal was to have one song on Spotify. And then I thought I would be content for the rest of my life.

    Tell me more about “There you go!” - why is it called that? And what inspired its creation?
    The EP has five songs, it came out on March 31st, and the title is a lyric from one of the songs called Waterboy. People have different interpretations of the title. Some see it said with care, some with relief. It was inspired by similar thoughts about being in your 20s. One of the songs is about when I moved out as a teenager from my parents' house at 15. I moved to Gothenburg, two hours from where I grew up and that was a big lesson, but I'm glad I did it. I just wrote about what I learned and being naive and not afraid of anything or making mistakes. I didn’t fear making mistakes.

    Do you fear making mistakes now?
    If I do make mistakes now it's more crucial. I think you're more afraid now because you want to make everything right.

    But what does right mean?
    That's the problem and one of the themes I wrote about. And then I explored another theme in a song called Waterboy. The story is about a water boy who's sick of everyone taking him for granted. He's the one providing water, but he's taken for granted. He's threatening them that he will take the word away, but he won't do it anyway, because he's not a bad person. So he just keeps giving them water. And

    Was that inspired by your own life?
    I think it was inspired by how I think adult life is overall. When you're small, everything you do is cheer on. When adults work, or are a good friend or partner, many things are taken for granted. And in a way, that's good, I guess. It's obvious that you have to be a good person, but there’s a switch when you stop getting any acknowledgement when you're older. I didn't think about it when I wrote the song. But when I saw the song completed, I understood why I wrote it. I just see that everyone is working very hard, and no one's really paying attention to the hard work.

    What’s your wildest dream about your career?
    Maybe releasing an album that is intertwined with a book of poetry. At the moment, I only focus on music, but I would like to combine things, maybe even create a movie with the music from the album. This would probably take years, but it is something I would love to do.

    What's the most played song on your Spotify list lately?
    It's an alternative version of The Strokes' single “I'll try anything once.”

    How do you see your music evolving in the future?
    I’m still influenced by 70s rock, The Strokes. I like Pharrell, Tyler, the Creator, even though I hide it pretty well. But I think I can really make something that's its own thing in a few years. I think I want to know more about what I want to do before making my first album. Maybe more about the sounds I want to use.

    What’s on the horizon for Varas?
    Varas: Playing live shows would be nice and that’s the plan. Becoming better at what I do, learning a lot - this is what I plan to do this year.

    shirt Adnym Atelier
    top Stylist’s Own
    trousers Deadwood
    shoes Hugo Boss
    jewellery Lotta Hasselblad
    sweater Maskopi
    jacket Deadwood
    jewellery Lotta Hasselblad
    jacket Deadwood
    shirt Weekday
    jewellery Lotta Hasselblad
    photography Sandra Myhrberg
    fashion Alicia Hurst
    grooming Filippa Finn
    jacket Deadwood
    top Weekday
    jeans Levis
    jewellery Lotta Hasselblad
  • Q&A Susan Szatmáry x Lessebo Papers

    Written by Art & Culture

    Susan Szatmáry is a modern luxury brand founded in Sweden and influenced by Susan's diverse and multicultural background. Susan's vision is to create high-class accessories with a unique identity, offering luxurious simplicity and delicate elegance. Her accessories provide uncompromising quality, timeless luxury, and are designed with exceptional craftsmanship. Susan was nominated as “Future Talent” in 2019 by Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm and was awarded the title of “Accessories Designer of the Year” in 2020 by Elle Sweden. She is also the winner of the prestigious “Guldknappen Accessoar” prize by Damernas Värld in 2020.

    Why/how did you end up working with bags?
    As a child, I was always inspired by my mum's 1960s style. Being surrounded by the vibrant world of clothing and accessories, I developed a deep fascination for the art of design. My interest in leather goods started when I began experimenting with natural leather in the same studio that my mother used to do her ceramics. I wanted to pursue a career as an artist, envisioning myself working in a spacious studio, dedicating my days and hours to painting and creating. It was my true passion. However, when I attempted to apply to Konstfack, I faced difficulty due to my lack of artistic background. Nonetheless, I had always held a strong interest in fashion and enjoyed redesigning my own clothes and shoes. But let's start
    from the beginning. During that time, I frequently visited second-hand shops, searching for the perfect leather jacket or shoes.
    Despite not having an artistic background, my fascination with fashion persisted. In the early 2000s, I began crafting bracelets and bags using natural leather, which I sold in artistic stores across Stockholm. Later, I pursued a master's course in accessories at Rome's Istituto Europeo di Design. Graduating at the top of my class, I was introduced by the headmaster to an individual who needed an assistant. This person happened to work at Alexander McQueen, and that marked the true beginning of my fashion career.
    At McQueen, we created bags and shoes, working on twelve collections per year. The nights were often long, and the work was demanding, but it served as the best training ground. It felt like the right fit, and it was there that I learned the dynamics of working in a creative team and translating ideas onto paper, ultimately sketching them in three dimensions. Following my time at McQueen, I spent a few years in Paris, working at renowned fashion houses such as Céline, Elie Saab, and Paco Rabanne. In 2013, while still residing in Paris, I received an
    opportunity to design a bag and shoe collection under my own name for & Other Stories. It added more flavor to my journey, and when I eventually returned to Sweden two years later, I had made the decision to establish my own brand under my name. It took a few years for my mood boards in Paris to materialize into the first collection of bags, which I presented in Paris in 2018. Vogue US was the first to write about the collection, which I named Valisette.
    It seems that you're very hands on, how is it working with paper? Paper has always been an integral part of my creative process. I start by conceptualizing designs on paper, which provides me with a tangible representation of my ideas before moving on to the production phase. It's a natural step in the creative process for me to begin constructing the bag using paper before seeing the first sample in leather. In Italian, this technique is called “salpa in
    cartoncino.” I always employ this method when designing new bags to explore shapes and sizes before creating the technical sketches. It also helps me better understand my own designs before sending them to the factory. Working with paper offers limitless possibilities. Observing a two-dimensional sheet transform into a three-dimensional masterpiece or work of art is truly captivating.

    Has there been anything that was a surprise to you working with paper?
    This realization is not groundbreaking, but rather a reminder of how paper is a versatile medium with endless creative potential. Witnessing a plain sheet of paper undergo a metamorphosis into a constructed bag while maintaining the same details and hardware is truly awe-inspiring. The challenge lies in achieving the same result as with a leather product.
    Working with paper also offers a special chance for me to exhibit my designs in a fresh light,
    incorporating colors I haven't previously explored for my bags, such as vibrant pink and serene sky blue.
    Tell us more about the collaboration with Lessebo„,
    Together with Lessebo Paper - a premium design paper distributor since 1693 - we have created the exhibition Blossom. The collaboration is a celebration of the transformative power of creativity, talent, and craftsmanship where we have given rise to an extraordinary collection of handmade paper bags. As someone who frequents museums and vernissages, I've often envisioned interpreting my products as an art form that could be showcased on a pedestal. This collaboration has allowed me to achieve that vision by elevating my bags to the level of art. These one-of-a-kind bags are crafted from Swedish heritage organic paper, and I work with only the highest quality materials to realize my vision. The process of shaping these bags into three-dimensional objects is a perfect fusion of these two aspects. The result is nothing short of extraordinary, and I'm thrilled to share this experience with everyone.

    About Susan Szatmáry
    Susan Szatmáry is a modern luxury brand founded in Sweden, influenced by Susan’s multitude and diverse cultural background. Susan ́s vision is to create high end accessories with a unique identity, that provide luxurious simplicity and delicate elegance. Her accessories offer uncompromising quality, timeless luxury, and are designed with impeccable craftsmanship. Susan Was nominated as “Future Talent” in 2019 with Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm and was awarded as “Accessories Designer of the year” 2020 for Elle Sweden and a winner of the prestigious Prize “Guldknappen Accessoar” Gold Button Accessories with Damersnasvärld 2020.

    About Lessebo Papers
    Lessebo Paper is a boutique paper mill with minimal footprint and maximum possibilities. Situated in a densely forested area in southern Sweden, Lessebo has been utilizing timber from the same forests and water from the same lakes since 1693. The company's deep-rooted cultural appreciation for nature has instilled an understanding of sustainable relationships with the environment. Lessebo has developed one of the most climate friendly, high-quality papers in the world. The paper is fully biodegradable and recyclable, with all production site energy sourced exclusively from biomass fuel. The excess renewable energy generated from production is utilized to supply district heating to local homes.

    Lessebo’s papers are often used for timeless and desirable luxury packaging applications such as paper bags or boxes, or for high quality print such as coffee table books or invitations. The company works closely with environmentally conscious brands, seeking a premium experience with no compromises. By respecting the environment today, Lessebo Paper acknowledges its responsibility towards future generations. This philosophy, which has been upheld for over 300 years, is more relevant than ever. Lessebo Paper artisans are constantly thinking ahead, continuing a tradition of sustainable paper production since 1693.

  • Odalisque Magazine Issue XII Release

    Written by Fashion Tales

    Ever looked at an image and struggled to pinpoint what you perceive?
    In this issue, we dive into optical illusions; images that trick the eye by creating a false, altered perception of reality.
    We meet Swedish pop stars Veronica Maggio and Miriam Bryant, sharing their story on how their collaboration first came to be, and talk to designer Stine Goya, who upped the ante for contemporary fashion of the North. Our favorite artists invite us to their creative spheres, through mind-bending perspectives and photography.
    Read, indulge, and challenge your visual perceptions together with us – exploring the depths of powerful visual trickery. 
    Now available at Papercut, Presstop and Readly. Soon in many more stores.

    Special Thanks To:

    Bread & Butter

    London Grace

    The Body Shop

    Stockholm Artweek