Monday, April 16, 2018

10 Questions For: Ulrik Munther


He was off the spotlights for some years. And we were surely missing him! Now, he is finally back in the game, presenting a new and more intimate side of his music. It's impossible not to love his songs, and it's even more impossible not to love him – he is funny, honest and very smart, as you can see in this interview. These are our 10 questions for Ulrik Munther:

Sounds European!: What are your first memories with music? What artists did you enjoy listening while you were growing up? And when did you start singing and playing instruments? Currently, what instruments do you play?

Ulrik Munther: One of my first memories is probably when my mother sang to me as a child. Old Swedish lullabies. Many of them were pretty melancholic.
I got a keyboard when I was three that I still have actually, and then I began taking piano lessons when I was seven.
I had an album with Eminem that I listened to a lot. Didn't understand the lyrics, but I liked the melodies.
I play piano and guitar mostly. But I'm no expert on either. I'm also pretty good with the harmonica.

SE!: You rose to prominence very early in your life. At the age of 15, you had already accomplished huge things, such as winning Lilla Melodifestivalen and MGP Nordic. What are your memories of that period, and of those contests? And how did you deal with success while being so young?

UM: Well, it was a lot of fun. And I guess "the grass is always greener", but in retrospect I could have benefited from waiting a couple of years before being on TV. But I don't know. It's impossible to say where I would be if I hadn't participated. But I want to believe that I'd still work with music in some way.

SE!: Afterwards, you experienced even more recognition when taking part of Melodifestivalen in 2012 and 2013. Both of your entries were huge hits and received high acclaim. What can you tell us about your Melodifestivalen experiences? And is it something you would ever consider giving a third try?

UM: Same here, hehe. It was fun, and I definitely learned a lot. Got a lot of attention and it's what I'm mostly known for. Right now, it's not very tempting, though. I've been in the public eye more or less since I was 15, and it's hard not to be affected by the affirmation you get from thousands of people, and by the criticism. And I want to keep evolving, and make music that isn't just a response to what people expect or want from me. So probably not in the near future.

SE!: You were living a wonderful moment of success when you decided to take a break. What made you go for that pause? And what have you been doing during this period?

UM: I wasn't quite sure where to go or what I wanted to do, so it just sort of happened. I broke up with the record label and moved back to Gothenburg with my girlfriend. Got my own studio and sat there 12 hours a day for a couple of months without finishing a single song. So I started going to a therapist and bought a piano. Found some new energy and realized I didn't want to work alone. Then I met Marcus Lindberg and he helped me finish some of my songs and write some new ones. And now we're here.

SE!: Now, you are finally back. Taking stock, analyzing the past and then the present, how would you compare your current work with the one before your pause? What has changed during these years, in your music and in yourself as a person and an artist?

UM: I think I'm mostly the same, even though a lot has changed. I've had three more years being in a relationship, from which I've gained a lot of insights and new perspectives. And I've been out of the spotlight, which also has been pretty nice. I've been able to do some soul searching and, even though I probably have more questions now than before, I think I've at least found answers to some things.
As for the music, there are some new influences. And the lyrics have never been more personal. I think for the first time I'm not doing what someone else thinks is right – but, instead, trying to trust my gut, which is scary.

"I think for the first time I'm not doing what someone else thinks is right – but, instead, trying to trust my gut, which is scary"

SE!: Your return is being simply amazing. We love your new singles! What can you tell us about them? And how was the process of composing and recording your new work?

UM: Thank you so much! I'm glad!
It's been a long journey. For example, the melody in the chorus of "Before", and some of the lyrics, came from a demo I made in Gothenburg in the beginning of 2016 – that we found use for in (at the time) another song, missing a chorus. And when I say "we", I mean Marcus Lindberg and I. Marcus has co-written almost every song with me and done the heavy lifting production wise. We've gotten to know each other very well over the last year. Discussing everything from relationships to spaceships.
Both "Say goodbye" and "Before" are about lost love. And even though I've been in relationships that have ended, I've never been in love before, and I think they're more inspired by the fear of fucking up this one. Hopefully it's not a prophecy.

SE!: Expectations rose after your new releases. Looking forward, what else can your fans expect from you in 2018? What are your professional projects for the near future?

UM: Well, I'm right in the middle of planning for the summer. I'm going out on a little tour. Not sure how many stops we'll do, but I'm really looking forward to it. After that, I think I'll get back in the studio, or behind the piano, and make an album. That's still something I feel like I've never done – even though I've released three albums.

SE!: You are an artist who has already done a lot, specially for someone your age. What do you still dream of achieving in your career?

UM: Well, I'd really like to not have to worry about money. But I'm also pretty sure that if that was my only goal, I might be better suited for another line of work, haha. No, but seriously, I would like to be able to write an album every other year, tour around Europe, and not have to worry about making "a hit" to pay rent. I want to be able to release music that maybe requires you to make an effort to like it, but gets better with every listen, and that people make that effort. And of course, Billboard #1.

SE!: If you could choose anyone, who would be some Swedish and international artists you would like to collaborate with?

UM: That's a hard one. I'd feel pretty small in comparison, but I love Bon Iver, Emilie Nicholas, Sufjan Stevens, Frida Hyvönen, Susanne Sundfør, The Tallest Man on Earth.

SE!: We would like to finish this interview with a song of yours. What is your favorite song by Ulrik Munther, and why?

UM: Hmm, another hard question. He has so many great songs... No, but I like "Before"! Play that one.

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