We chatted with the singer-songwriter before the release of his next single.
We chatted with the singer-songwriter before the release of his next single.
Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG
In 2018, there’s no shortage of Instagram influencers trying their hand at singing. If Danielle Bregoli of “Catch me outside” fame has taught us anything, it’s that the formula often works; develop an audience on social media, and therein lies your music fan base. But for Swedish blogger Andreas Wijk, this isn’t actually the case. If anything, he’s a musician turned influencer turned musician again, due to a contractual nightmare that prohibited him from releasing music for over half a decade. His interest in the fashion world is genuine, no doubt, but was likely in part a way to kill time while his musical career was put on lock. He went from releasing covers on YouTube as a 16-year-old to amassing a hefty online following and modeling for brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Tommy Hilfiger.
Now, Wijk is going back to his roots, with tomorrow marking the release of his new single, “Liar”. We visited the singer at his apartment in Stockholm to discuss how he got started in music, how it intersects with fashion, and his own definition of success.
Why did you move to Stockholm from Gothenburg?
Everything in media is happening in Stockholm. This is where it happens, so I had to be here. I would say Stockholm is the media capital of Scandinavia. This is the place.
Stockholm’s not the biggest city in Europe, but it does have a ton of culture coming out of it in fashion and music. Why do you think that is?
It’s interesting because we’ve always been a media country in one way. You get the Spotify logo right on that building if you look outside. Those companies are all over here.
A Swede once told me that the reason so much good music comes from here is because it’s so cold that no one can do anything in the winter, and people just work on art.
Yeah, I don’t feel like that’s my reason. Here in Stockholm, there’s always a lot of — I don’t feel like it’s boring during winter time. To be honest, it’s cold now, but I kind of like to sip my coffee and walk outside. Like, this is perfect. But for me, if I go to myself, I haven’t really been much of a Swede in my life. My whole childhood, I was kind of the outsider. I was creative. I did music. I did my own films. I put these posters up in the school like, ‘Meet at my place at four in the afternoon, and we’ll do a show!’ And then we recorded that and showed it for the whole class the week after instead of playing football like everyone else. That was before even there was a Swedish Idol. That was before it was accepted to be creative, be a singer, be anything. So I’ve always been doing my thing in one way. Nowadays, it’s cooler to be an artist or like, ‘I want to sing! I want to be a fashion guy!’ Whatever. But back then, it was only sports.
Do you collaborate a lot? Do you like working with other people?
The thing is, I love to create with people. Be together and go toward a goal. I love that kind of team thing. I just love it. And I have so many areas in my life where I have people working with me or for me, so in the studio I have a few go-to guys that I always work with. Sometimes I just end up in my own sessions as well, and I love that. I feel like I’m pretty easy to adapt to a new place. If I feel like, ‘OK, this person has a lot of melodies,’ then maybe I’ll go back and just listen to what that person has to say. Or sometimes I have to take the lead. I think I was like that in my childhood as well. I was the leader all the time in my childhood.
Songwriting can be really vulnerable. Does it ever feel uncomfortable working with other people in that regard?
That’s an interesting thing because I’m a very personal person. I feel like, as soon as I meet someone, already I feel like, ‘Hey, you’re my friend now.’ But I think I still have a lot of integrity, so I give a lot of myself and it’s not like I’m hiding stuff, but if you want to get my deepest thoughts, you have to pull them out. That’s vulnerable when you write music. Like my next song is definitely a personal one. When you get into a session and when the focus is, ‘Hey we’re gonna write a song today,’ everyone focuses like we’re gonna do a love song. And I don’t really fall in love, and that made this song “Liar” happen. Because this is about a person that was perfect. I was like, ‘Wow, you’re the one. I wish I was in love with you, but I’m not.’ So it’s like if I can’t fall for you, I can’t fall in love. That’s what I sing in the chorus.
Is it hard put out a song when it’s about a specific person? You know they’ll likely hear it and know.
The thing is, I feel like even if it’s about one person, it’s still about a lot of scenarios in my life. And I feel like anyone can listen to the lyrics and find their meaning in it, but for me, it’s that person. And it’s still like a few stories that binds together to that one. Yeah, in a way, it’s scary. If you compare it to the first song where it’s more of an expression of feeling. That was more describing the moment. This is describing my feelings in another way.
How do you approach visuals and merge it with your music?
So my music story, quickly: when I was 16, I put a lot of YouTube videos on YouTube. All the labels in Sweden started calling. And I could pick like, who do I want to sign with? I was on my way to do a huge deal here, then RedOne called. You remember that guy?
Yeah, I do actually.
It was just when he released the Gaga things, and he was the one. It was like, he’s the new Max Martin. He was the guy. Especially being Swedish, we were like, ‘We’re so proud of him.’ I had friends who had been working with him and was like, ‘Wow, this is the dream.’ So they flew a little 16-year-old guy to Los Angeles. I’d never been to the States. And they were like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna make you a star.’ So I signed to him and Adam Anders, who is the guy who did all the Glee productions. I was stuck with them for seven tough years, and nothing happened. So that was the biggest battle in my life.
Were you signed to a label technically, or not really?
Yeah. I can’t really speak about the deal, but I was signed to them. So I couldn’t really do anything without their approval, and they were like, ‘Yeah, it’s gonna happen.’ But it never happened. I waited. I wrote music in my basement with my friends like every day. I was fighting so hard. I’d send him songs, and then he’d answer like one of 10 emails. ‘Whoa, I love this! I love this!’ So he gave me always this love for what I was doing, and that gave me comfort like, ‘OK, I can keep writing. If I do this, he will soon release something.’ But it never happened. So it ended with me getting free through fighting myself free of those contracts, and now instead of signing another label I decided to just release music independently. ‘Cause it came from something so big—‘We’re gonna make you huge!’—to like, okay, let’s just release some music.
So I’m on the other side of the coin now, and in some ways, I don’t feel the pressure because I have my life. I know what I live for, and I know what’s important for my life. Now, the music is my biggest passion so I just want to do this. So what I do now is releasing by myself, as an independent artist, I do everything. I go to London tomorrow to do my music video. I’m working with my friend. I try to grab a squad. I call the models. I do everything. I pay for it all. It’s my thing. And I shoot the covers with my friends. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable not being in the creative process. In one way, you feel happy that you’re able to do this. If I was at a major label, they would pick everything. So I’m able to do this and create myself in the beginning of my music career, and that makes me happy. But it makes me stressed as well.
You made the right decision for the time with what you knew at the time, back then. Anybody would have done that.
And when I look back at it, those steps I would have taken with a Swedish label would have changed my brand a lot.
What are you usually doing on a day that you release new music?
When I release this song next Friday, I will be in Switzerland working. And that feels kind of good in one way because then I will see stuff on my phone, but I won’t be here. It’s kind of cool to be like, ‘OK, I’m out of the bubble but I’m still [there].’ That’s gonna be an interesting day. I feel like as long as I’m proud of what I’m releasing, I will feel good. The thing about having people’s eyes on you is interesting because people are easy to judge. I’m like, ‘Why do you spread this hate?’ So of course, you know, there are people not liking what you do. It’s weird.
How do you define success?
When I released my song, that week, I got so many conversations and met a lot of people where the question, ‘What is success?’ came up all the time. I met these singers, these people in the industry that made it. Like, okay, you made it. I sat next to this guy at dinner, and I was like, ‘Wow, he looks so sad.’ And I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ I don’t know him that well, but he’s one of the biggest male singers in Sweden. And he was like, ‘Ah, no, you know what, I’m under a lot of pressure right now.’ And I’m like, ‘But this is your success. Look at what’s happening at the moment.’ Because he was in a lot of great stuff that week for example. He was like, ‘Yeah, but that makes me even more worried. This makes it so hard because people are judging me, and I get a lot of hate out of this.’ And that made me feel like, wow, no matter on what level you’re on, you’re always gonna feel the same pressure.
I’m like of course I want the numbers to be good, but I think the fun part about being an independent artist is that I have more of a plan to build something. When you release something with a major, their focus is to get the hit. And when you get the hit, you’re working for the next hit. It’s like you release a new song every six months or once a year. For me, it’s like I’m gonna release songs all spring to build myself as an artist that I haven’t been able to do in seven years. That’s more my focus.