Loney dear on “Loney dear”

Darkness to the Light

Dec 15, 2017 Issue #62 - Julien Baker
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It has been six long years since Emil Svanängen released his last album as Loney dear, 2011's Hall Music. In the interim, Svanängen has endured much change, suffering ends to relationships both personal and professional and ultimately finding himself at an artistic crossroads, one that informs Loney dear's seventh album, the self-titled Loney dear.

"I was in a long relationship with a girl that ended after 12 years, and I stopped working with the manger that kicked the whole thing started for me," says Svanängen, who also cut ties with his previous record label, Polyvinyl. For Loney dear, Svanängen signed to Peter Gabriel and WOMAD's Real World Records after Gabriel himself heard the album track "Hull" through a mutual friend. "I've basically lost a lot of partners in what I was doing, and I had to reinvent a few things to get to a good level. So it's been a strange time. I've probably learned quite a few things."

Much of what Svanängen has learned has to do with his artistic vision. Loney dear, which he describes flippantly as "technically, the breakup album," sees Svanängen trimming unnecessary sonic weight from his compositions, yielding a starker tone, and more importantly allowing him to expose some of his darker tendencies. After years of releasing music that Svanängen viewed as bright in tone and texture, he says that he felt the need to express something "more destructive."

Not only are the sonic backdrops of Loney dear leaner, but the emotion is laid bare in the lyrics, such as the disturbing relationship song "Hulls" and "Sum," where he sings, "the past is overcome." While autobiography in the tracks is not always literal, Svanängen's emotional struggle in these 10 songs is clear. In many ways, he sees Loney dear as a new starting point.

"The problem is when you get to a certain point that is like an endpoint or a new threshold, it suddenly opens up the next level, and I think that has hit me recently," says Svanängen. "So yes, I have come to terms with a few things, but it's a short life and there are many things to learn. Right now I'm a bit curious. Will this open up more questions? But I think it's about confidence. I feel like I might be at a point where I know that I've done my best."

As a younger man, Svanängen strove for perfection. Recently, he has learned that perfection is not necessarily attainable, and that the merits of his work will be apparent only in time. After he signed his first U.S. record deal 10 years ago, Svanängen was reluctant to tour, feeling that it disturbed what he was meant to do, which was to create. Now, however, he finds solace, and even newfound fulfillment, in the idea of bringing his music to the stage. And to this end, he's even looking forward to coming back to the States, a place that caused the younger Svanängen much stress.

"It would mean so much personally for me [to come back], because the last tour we did there was very difficult," he says. "We in the band weren't in a very good psychological place. I think I need to fill that circle and come back and do things properly. And enjoy myself. Make things right."

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's Fall 2017 Issue (October/November 2017), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

 

www.loneydear.com

 

 

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