Helena Josefsson‘s second album “Kyss mej” was released in February. Almost at the same time, the documentary film “Jag är min egen Dolly Parton” about Dolly Parton, which featured her and other Swedish female artists, was premiered in the cinemas in Sweden.
We wanted to know more about Helena’s career so we interviewed her while she is in South America on tour with Roxette.
Roxetteblog: Let’s start with some background, how did you start to play music, get in to music? Did you study music?
Helena: My family on my mother´s side is very musical, my grandfather (now 93 years old, still playing the violin!) played in orchestras, and my grandmother had a record store!
When I was 2,5 years, my mother let me take dancing classes, and from that day, that is my absolute favourite hobby! At the age of 7, I started singing in a girl´s choir, and started playing the piano. But I was no good student there, liked to make my own little songs better! The choir was an amazing experience, an angelic sound that cannot be made with adult voices- even though I try ;o). But it is so fantastic in a choir, every voice is as important, it is like one big body moving towards the same dynamics and expression…
In high school I had my first experience of playing and singing in a band. And I loved it – expressing myself through music – and the stage quickly gave me some space to be whoever I want to be. In college I chose an education with science and music – we sang in a choir. After the first half, my results in school got worse because I knew music was the main issue for me. I remember having five different bands running, and dancing up to five times a week. I remember getting up really early in the mornings, doing my homework, and on the school bus, since I lived in the countryside. I remember my older sister coming into my room, removing the book from my face as I had fallen asleep with it like that!
I have always been very ambitious, almost too much. Sometimes my stomach really hurt from stress, in this period, trying to be great in school even though my passion got all the time I had.
RXB: And how many instruments do you play?
H: The piano and the triangle 🙂
RXB: Hey, don’t forget the tambourine! You have released a couple of solo albums but also some with Sandy Mouche. When did you start to compose your own songs?
H: I think it really started around the age of , maybe, 14?
RXB: Can you tell us more about Sandy Mouche? How did you found the band? Are you still playing together?
H: Yes, we are recording our third album now! We have recorded six songs so far, and when we have fifteen, we will choose the best ones and release it.
My husband Martinique, I and Per Blomgren (drummer ) and his girlfriend went on a vacation together in Georgopouli, Greece in 2001. Martinique had written a song, he showed it to us there on the beach bar, it was “A Year”. We loved it! There on that beach, we decided to found a group together, and feeling the sand and the fact that we all had mouches on our left side of the chin, became “Sandy Mouche”.
Per and I had played a lot together in a band called Plastic Soul, and Martinique and Per´s girlfriend Hanna were in the same class.
RXB: Where do you get the inspiration for your songs? And what was the motivation to release first “Dynamo” and now “Kyss mej”?
H: I noticed, on the second Sandy Mouche album, that some of my ideas would be better for a solo project. As a band you have a big quality in being different persons
that really merge together musically, and that is something I want us to use. But I started trying to do other things that were more “produced”, the song “In The Sand” draws in that direction. Then the band identity can become an obstacle instead.
For example, you don’t want a drum kit in the song, but then the drummer can get bored. And what really gives “Sandy Mouche” our sound in the way that “Neons”, “Fairies and Elves” and “Spiderweb Suit” is something only we four can do together.
On the other hand, being a solo artist opens more possibilities, because I don’t have to compromise with anything.
RXB: You have written songs in English, Swedish, even some French. What language do you feel more comfortable with? Do you think language influences the lyrics? Like for example Swedish more personal, English more “fun”?
H: Yes, I agree! For example, when I use French, I feel it helps the music get more romantic, because you don’t follow the words and their meaning, it is more like a “sound”.
I was trying to record “Kyss Mej” with my own south-Swedish accent, but the whole voice changes depending on how you hold your mouth, throat and tongue! And in my case the voice got clearer and lighter in “Stockholm”-accent. The voice is such a funny instrument 🙂
RXB: And what about your favourite artists, artists who inspire you? What styles do you like?
H: I love Kate Bush, The Cure, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, The Cardigans, Nick Drake, Nina Simone, Monica Zetterlund, Elis Regina (from Brazil), Astrud Gilberto, The Cranberries and so on…, choir music, birdsong!
But I can get a kick out of hard-rock, like metal, too. The energy in it!
RXB: Even though you worked with Per in his solo projects and went on tour with him a couple of times, you have joined Roxette for the first time now. What is the biggest difference between Gessle’s tour in 2009 – where you performed Roxette songs as well – and this tour? Of course, besides that now Marie is back.
H: The biggest difference must be that we are playing in more parts of the world, and that I am more a backing vocalist now, before I sang more.
RXB: What do you expect of this tour?
H: I expect to get a lot of inspiration, and time for reflections, own thoughts!
RXB: It’s quite a huge tour.. visiting all continents and being around for almost a year. How do you combine it with your family?
H: My husband is amazing!! And the audience pulls me up when I miss my family too much!
RXB: Are there any Rox songs you really like or prefer to play on the tour?
H: I like Joyride, Silver Blue and Opp Nox the most:) But I hope we will play more from the new album soon!
RXB: If I don’t remember wrong, you were studying to become an optician.. is that right? If so, can you tell us about that? It’s quite different to what we know of you so far..
H: Yes, my sister is an optician. The Party Crasher tour was tough because my son was so young, and I was feeding him at night, I got very tired. I thought that maybe I need another job that is easier to plan. But I realized quickly that musician is my right element!
RXB: By reading your lyrics and reading about the “squirrel-action”, I get the impression you are a person who is very connected to nature. Are you vegetarian? What is nature for you?
H: I am selectarian, eat meat sometimes if it is game, but mainly fish! Yes, I love nature, and children too. I hope my music and voice can do good in some way.
RXB: And last but not least, can you tell us a bit more about the Dolly Parton film? Is there more to come?
H: We made a tribute to her, and it was filmed. The photographer decided to follow us for five years, and it became a movie, and yes, a record and concerts will follow!
Helena performing Stars with Roxette in Cordoba, Argentina (April 7th, 2011)