Hotter than ever

After 16 years with Sahara Hotnights Maria Andersson Lundell

found her own voice two years ago. This time around it’s very personal. 

You’re a singer with a background from the punk group Sahara Hotnights. What’s the biggest difference performing on your own?

The fact that I have to make all the practical and creative decisions myself. Being in a band got me used to asking others about their opinion before acting out. While making my solo record I suddenly realised I was bad at making up my own mind on things. I learned a lot from that practice.

Your latest solo album Succession was partly about loosing your father as a 20-year-old. What are your favourite lines from one of the songs?

I think the song Birches really captured the feelings of loss and guilt, both musically and lyric wise. Before he passed away he planted an alley of birches next to our summerhouse. I like to watch them grow as the years goes by. For me, the memory of him lives on through those trees and that became the theme of the song.  

Would you say grief and sorrow give rise to better art?

I find a certain energy in feeling angry or sad, I’m not able to write when I’m in the middle of it, but I sort of capture that energy and use it later on when I sit down with the guitar. I believe that our sorrows and struggles define us, and I think that people’s admiration and need for art has a lot to do with that – we want music, films and books to reveal a memory, many times a difficult one. If art hits the right spot in us we believe it to be better. I think that goes for both the consumer and the maker of it. 

What’s your favourite instrument?

To perform with, the electric guitar. I’ve played it since I was 10 years old and will continue to do so. My favourite instrument overall though is probably the pipe organ, I admire its deep and dramatic yet kind of harsh sound. It also brings back memories from following my mom to Sunday service when I was a child. 

Your style is great, what’s your relationship to fashion?

I have a nostalgic admiration for fashion in previous decades, that it reflects the spirit of the different times. It’s harder for me to be romantic about current fashion since I don’t see the whole picture yet. I’ve always enjoyed playing around with styles; colour and shape can definitely affect my mood and confidence. When I’m on stage I prefer wearing a simple black suit and low heels. I’ve never been into grand fashion gestures on stage. 

What’s your favourite place in the world and what do you get up to here?

I always long for Västerbotten where I grew up. I go there when I need to get away from the city. I visit my family and I read a lot. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Writing lots of new songs. I’m not sure where they will lead me but sometimes it’s good not knowing. 

What art form influences you the most and how?

I get inspired by reading Marguerite Duras, Doris Lessing and Sigrid Undset. I have a hang up on Milton Avery’s paintings and films that really moved me lately were Call me by your name and Mon Roi. 

You recently visited LA, what did you get up to? What do you like about the city?

I visited my friend Josephine, drummer of Sahara Hotnights, who lives in Topanga Canyon. We had an amazing week of making music and hiking in the hills. I’m actually quite ill suited to be a LA-tourist since I don’t have a driver’s license, but I like the atmosphere, the food, the art-scene and to discover trails and beaches outside the city.