Umeå-born Cajsa Siik has emerged in the past few years as one of Sweden’s most interesting new artists. Over two albums, 2012’s Plastic House and 2014’s Contra, she’s developed a distinctive musical style, blending elements of folk, electronica and pop into a unique sound. Totally Stockholm caught up with Cajsa for a chat before her recent show at Berns Terrassen.
First of all, this is the first time you’ve been featured in our magazine. Can you give us a quick run-through of who Cajsa Siik is and where you are right now, musically?
I’m an artist, songwriter, producer, originally from the North of Sweden, in Umeå. I record albums, and I tour. Right now, I’ve just released an album, Contra. Now I’m on tour and I’m also working in the studio on new material.
Your music sits at a genre intersection between folk and electronic pop, especially on the Contra album. You’ve got that kind of minimalist folk sound, but with electronic instrumentation. Do you enjoy exploring the possibilities of that kind of sound?
Well, we did that on Contra. I found it was the right way to go with these kind of songs, because I want to create these songs between softness and hardness, to use different sounds in that way. I think it suited these songs, and I’m happy with the album.
At the same time, I would say that your latest single, ‘Change of Heart’, has one of the sharpest, most directly-pop choruses I’ve ever heard in your work. Is that a deliberate move in that direction, or simply the way the song worked out?
It was the way the song worked out when I wrote it. It was kind of a direct song. I wrote it in like an hour. For me it was straightforward, and hopeful and direct.
And ‘Change of Heart’ was released with a pretty slick video as well. Can you tell us who you worked with on that, what you wanted from the video and how it all came together?
I was contacted by this guy called Andreas Eidhagen, and he asked me if I wanted to do a video. I was actually thinking at that point that I wanted to do a video for ‘Change of Heart’. Even if it’s not on the album, I still wanted a visual accompaniment. We had a few meetings, we sat down and we talked about how to do that. And then we just started to experiment. We decided to just create what we wanted to create. We basically just met up, we had a few meetings where we were planning it, and then we just began. I was working with a team of stylists as well, and lights, and everything else that you need to create a video. And we had one day, and did a lot of shooting. So that’s a short explanation of how it came about.
You’ve worked with Carl Ekerstam and Rolf Klinth. How does that process work? Do you say, write the outline of a song yourself and then go to them to help develop or workshop it?
Yeah, sort of. I spend a lot of time in studio writing songs, and I think about the chords, and the melodies, and the arrangements. For me it’s very important to be a team, working on these albums, because their input is very important to me and it takes the album to another level. If I get stuck somewhere, they have their way of thinking about the songs, which is a different way that I have because I wrote them. It’s like a skeleton, or a naked body. And then you put clothes on the body, and it depends on who’s dressing the body. There are a million ways to do it. First of all, you create the body, and there’s a certain feeling you add, and then you create an outfit.
You’ve had quite a lot of exposure recently on big North American TV shows, like Degrassi and Criminal Minds, and that’s a pretty unusual outlet for a European indie artist’s music. How do these things come about, and how does it feel to see your music in that context?
I guess I put music out there. When I released the first album (Plastic House), I was contacted by a lot of different people. And I was contacted by these American guys, who were working with pitching music towards film and TV. And now we have a few syncs, across both albums I think there are ten songs which have been on TV shows. It was sort of a new way for me to use my music, and to put it out to an even broader audience. So they just started pitching it, and we were lucky to have a lot of pitches accepted. It feels surreal sometimes, I write these songs by myself and then all of a sudden they’re in a TV show, which is viewed all over the world. I think it’s a cool thing. It’s so surreal, but I still find it an interesting way to work with music.
And the ‘Higher’ single came out recently, backed with remixes by Lakechild and Luftmensh. How does it feel to see someone play with and rework your music like that? Exciting? Weird?
When I was asked if I wanted to do it, I was like ‘Yeah, let’s do it’. But then… it felt a bit weird, because you have to let it go and let them do their thing. It was very important for me to hear the result and hear if I liked it or not. I needed some time to listen to it. That’s also a way of dressing it up in different clothes. And it’s a different type of genre I haven’t really worked with previously. It felt interesting and creative and a bit weird as well. But I like the remixes, I think they’re cool and they add something to the song as well, and people can dance to it, even… in Germany (laughs).
And finally, what can we expect from you for the rest of 2015 and beyond?
No idea. You never know. I don’t really know what you can expect from me, I’m really in the moment right now. I have to stay in my bubble to figure out what I want to do next, and that’s where I’m at right now. I will release new music of course.
You’ve been putting out a few singles recently (‘State of Low’, ‘Follow Me Down’, ‘Change of Heart’), so is there a new album in the works, or is it just a series of singles?
I don’t know yet. We’ll see, it’s hard to tell. I don’t plan things like, ‘Write a single, we’re gonna release it next week!’. I don’t work like that. I’m working to find a new way, a new path, and if I’ll write five songs and make a recording, or two songs or one song or an album, I don’t really know yet. But I’m writing, so, we’ll see.
Words: Austin Maloney.