June 6th is Sweden’s National Day (Sveriges National Dagen) and there is no better way to resuscitate my blog than today! Everyone who knows me on-line and off-line are aware of this thing I have for Sweden. Call it what you want…love, infatuation, obsession, utter admiration. I talk about anything Swedish all the time, I blog about it everyday (on my tumblr), I’m learning the language on my own (and not doing a very good job at it!), I call every coffee break Fika, and I even named this little that - Fika Fika Fika. Unlike other Swede-o-philes, I haven’t even been there and to tell you the truth, I don’t even know if I will ever get the chance to. It’s one of the countries with the most expensive cost of living and I’m just a broke girl in the third world with nothing much in my bank account, and no spectacular skill that would be exceptionally useful to the job market in Sweden. People I meet often ask me why I have so much interest in that country.Â There are so many reasons but it all started when I stumbled upon the music ofÂ a Swedish indiepop band called Eggstone.Â That was more than a decade ago, and the songs below in particular, found their way to my heart, and somehow never left.
That was the start of this great love affair. Now,Â I don’t remember the exact details anymore but the internet was young then (haha I speak as if I am that ancient!) and I was hungry to discover new things. My appreciation for Swedish indiepop led me to Labrador, a record label that opened the door to more beautiful music from Sweden, since they only release bands from their country. I was lucky enough to indirectly work with the label back in 2008.Â A local label, Universal Records, collaborated with Labrador and released Ice and Snow, a Philippine only compilation curated by Johan AngergÃ¥rd (one of the owners of the label and somewhat a king of Swedish indiepop via his very successful bands Club 8, Acid House Kings, The Legends and Pallers). I, quite shyly, wrote the liner notes for the compilation.Â I was chuffed, but that is not why I like Labrador,Â I will forever be thankful to them forÂ The Radio Dept. - a band that makes one of the most important music in my life,Â as important as the music of another Swede,Â Jens Lekman.
Nowadays, Swedish pop has become more popular than it was before, and there’s quite A LOT of new acts born everyday. I listen to a smÃ¶rgÃ¥sbord of Swedish artists and follow labelsÂ like Service, Sincerely Yours, Hybris, etc., but nobody has hit my heart as much as The Radio Dept., and Jens Lekman have.Â If there was any doubt in my heart for how amazing Swedish music is, they have both erased that.
Is it just the music though?Â No.Â It’s been such an poignant part of this unrequited love for Sweden, but it’s the Swedes that can take home the prize for cementing my love for their country.Â I learned more about Sweden not just from reading books or blogs, but from from the people themselves. I cannot lie, let it be known though that I’ve met very few Swedes in person, but those I have, I became fond of.Â I’ve tried to widen my network in real life, but there are not too many Swedes here for some reason.Â Online though, I think it’s become such an obsession that I always gravitate to the nearest Swede, particularly the Swedish folks on many forums and social networking sites, like facebook, tumblr, and last.fm!) I like the Swedish attitude, some say they seem rude because they keep to themselves, personally I think I’d appreciate that, because although I like people, I tend to keep to myself.Â It seems though, once you crack the ice, the shyness is diminished and they’re wonderful people to converse with. I like talking to Swedes, they’re really smart, open-minded, and they know their geography (they are frequent travellers that’s why!).Â It doesn’t hurt at all that they are oh so adorable too. The ones I’ve ‘met’ know a lot about the music they are passionate about and their enthusiasm is contagious. I have also noticed that they have this subtle pride for their country and it’s accomplishments but they aren’t the type to boast about it. There’s also a big chance that they themselves have a band or know someone who’s a member of a certain band. It seems the musical world is so small in Sweden, especially in Swedish music capital GÃ¶teborg. How fascinating!
Svensk popmusik Ã¤r den bÃ¤staste- A silly shirt I made back in 2006.
Oh dear Sverige, your music and your people haveÂ made me curiouser and curiouser. From then on, I’ve started noticing everything from your country… Swedish culture, arts, and design, fashion, films, the then social democratic government,Â the concept of lagom and Jantelagen the love for coffee and fika, no shoes indoors, the dalahÃ¤st, the egalitarian society (in comparison to most countries), the Swedish country side, Roy Andersson, Ingmar Bergman, Pippi LÃ¥ngstrump, IKEA, falurÃ¶dfÃ¤rg, dancing around poles during midsommar, , semla (which I’ve yet to try!), the beautiful Swedish language - all of these and more contributed to this big Swedish dream I’ve nurtured in my head and heart. Jag Ã¤r nyfiken! Sadly, my love for many things Swedish are just based on what I read or what other people tell me. I won’t fully understand those until I’ve experienced them, and who knows when. The closestÂ time I ever got to Sweden was visiting IKEA….in Singapore! We don’t have Ikea here and neither do we have a Swedish Embassy. Hah! Obviously, it’s my dream to step foot on Swedish soil one day. I can already picture myself weeping buckets of tears (on a hÃ¶stÃ¶ no less) if ever that miracle happens. *snyft* Maybe one day Sweden will give me a break and a free ticket for promoting their country - unconciously I really do, just ask the people I used to work with what I talk about everyday ;-). Yes, I’m almost a big joke, I know this.
With all that said, I don’t think I put Sweden on a pedestal though. I am completely aware that it is less than perfect, but to someone living in a nice but chaotic third world country, Sweden seems like a slice of heaven.Â For now it’s improbable so I’ll just keep listening to the music, learning the language, looking at photos and talking to the fascinating Swedes all over the world and of course, having fika with my friends. I am quite lucky that my friends share the same amount of love I have for Sweden, at least daydreaming about it doesn’t sound as foolish. It’s also nice that friends from all over think about me when they travel to Sweden. They send postcards and Sweden-related stuff, this satiates my obsession a whole lot. Haha.
Ah, Sweden, for now I shall just wave the yellow and blue flag under the heat of this tropical country. Maybe I’ll win the lottery, for sure the very first thing I’ll spend it on is a plane ticket to heading to you. Right now there is roughly 10,000 kilometres separating us, but just like how it is with unrequited love, I’ll be here, and I can wait forever.Â Jag Ã¤lskar Sverige, let’s fika someday!
Grattis Sverige! Jag Ã¤lskar dig. Jag hoppas att jag kan besÃ¶ka den en dag!
* Fancy sending me some postcards, coffee, semla, love, or Swedish related stuff?Â You’re more than welcome! You can find my mailing address here.