Meet: Billie Lindahl, aka Promise and the Monster interview

We featured the new video from Stockholm’s Billie Lindahl, aka Promise and the Monster, here on Backseat Mafia, and we were immediately struck by its dark beauty, it’s driving, melodic sounds and Lindahl’s frankly irresistible vocal. For her third album, Feed the Fire, out in January next year, she’s moved to the iconic Bella Union label, a suitable platform for her considerable talents.

We spoke to Billie ahead of the album release to find out more.

Your new record, Feed the Fire, is out in January – Can you tell us a bit about it? Are there any recurring themes or moods you wanted to convey?

Yeah. All the songs are in a way tales of violence and despair. Nothing cheerful. When I started to write the lyrics I wrote about killings where I imagined what was going on inside the killer’s head. At the same time my own life made some bad turns, so from pretending to be crazy, I sort of got crazy. The apocalyptical landscape in the lyrics is an imaginative one, but it resembles a shaky period in my life – and in the world. Overall the lyrics deals with a feeling of helplessness I think. There is one exception though: the song Julingvallen is completely without words, only me humming. And Julingvallen is a place high up in the mountains where my mum just to spend her summers as a kid. They were surrounded by trees an cows and lived in small cottages. Her stepdad always told her that it was a safe place where nobody could ever find them or harm them. Julingvallen is a little bit like how I imagine paradise, and the song gives me a little comfort.

You’ve said you were aiming for a sound that was “Like you would play a Lee Hazlewood song on top of Nico’s late Eighties records” were they influences on you, and the record?

Yes, definitely. But we listened to a lot of other music as well to create the sound. we made a playlist with almost one hundred different songs to help us through the process. I think the key for us to get into the 60s/80s thing was when I showed Love the song ‘Sadness Hides the Sun’ in two versions. it is an old country song recorded by an artist called Greta Ann. and later by Anika, a British German dub/new wave artist that I admire a lot. both versions are so cool! and I wanted to meld those two worlds together.

You recorded it in basement studio with Love Martinsen in Stockholm – How was that? Do you work well together?

Yeah. we didn’t know each other that well when we started. It was quite coincidental that we started working together, but we have a lot of common taste in music, and Love is really easy to work with. He contributed alot to the songs and is overall just a great person to have around.

How would you compare Feed the Fire to your other two records? Was it an easy record to make? Or similar, or completely different – do you think you can hear that in it?

To make a record is always alot of work. I have been working with this for the last three-four years. But the thing is, I love the process. I love to record and to write songs. It’s never easy, but that’s not the point. every song and every album is a world in its own, and I have to pay attention to what it is and can become. I like to be in that world, and to leave it kind of makes me sad. It’s the same every time.

It’s out on Bella Union, your first record for the label – How did that come about? It must be a bit of an honour to be on that label?

Yes it is. I’m very happy to be on the Bella Union label. Simon is truly devoted to music and he knew about my stuff very early. From the first album actually. We started talking many years ago, so my thanks go to him.

We loved ‘Time of the Season’ here on backseat mafia – can you tell us a little about that track?

Glad you like it! it’s one of my favourites as well. The title Time of the Season is a reference to the old Zombies song with the same name, which is about light hearted summer romance. My song is about the dark side of those kinds of relationships. They can seem like an easy come easy go thing, but can turn out pretty gruesome. The chorus line “It’s the time of the season, it is time to meet you” is about falling for the same kind of bad people, over and over, and over again. Time of the Season is more uptempo than most other songs on the album. When we recorded it we talked about making it sound like ABBA if they where an early 80’s goth band, and I think we came quite close.

How does it feel now, coming up to the release date – exciting? Or weird- because you (presumably) recorded it quite a while ago, or slightly detached now, because you’ve moved onto other things?

Exciting and nervous. I’ve had this record in my head for such a long time I have no idea what it sounds like. I’m kind of curious, so looking forward for people to tell me.

So, you’ve got a couple of dates coming up in January at the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival – any plans to come over here to the UK later in the year?

Yeah, there are some sketches, but nothing decided yet. But yeah, it will happen.

Any more plans for 2016?
To continue doing what I do

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