The Swedish singer songwriter, Alice Boman, first came to prominence back in 2014 with her haunting single Waiting from her debut EP Skisser. It was followed up with a wistful collection of songs on EP II, which brought Boman considerable attention in North America, especially from Amazon Studios, who featured Boman’s music on their web television series Transparent. Interestingly, other studios and networks followed suit featuring Boman’s songs on TV-shows and films, such as 13 Reasons Why, Suits, Paper Towns, Wanderlust, and The Resident. Boman of course found all the attention a welcomed surprise. But what’s not surprising at all is how Boman’s beautiful ghostly vocals and songs charged with emotion and vulnerability shine with dreamy brilliance.
More recently, Boman’s new debut album Dream On is unmistakeably wistful yet hopeful with its message, which is where I find myself this week, still listening to Boman’s Dream On and in complete awe of her honesty and intimacy as a songwriter. In an exclusive recently, I had the opportunity to quiz Alice about her new album and why music is such a big part of her life. Here is some of what we talked about.
Alice, does it feel like a surreal moment to have finally released your mesmerising long-awaited debut album Dream On?
Yes, it really does. I started writing some of these songs like four years ago, so it’s been such a long process. And we’ve worked hard on the recordings, so it does feel quite surreal now, that it’s actually out there and that I can’t change anything or work on it any more. But it’s a great feeling, to let finally let it go.
What I am immediate struck by is your honesty and intimacy as a songwriter. Could you share something surprising about yourself that explains the personal nature of your songs?
I actually didn’t use to be very close to my feelings, when I started writing, which might sound odd considering that that is all that my songs are about really. Feelings. But I think I learned to get closer to them – through writing. So today it’s different. But it’s funny to think back.
I read that the power of cinema is important to you. Tell me about some of the movies that have been the inspiration behind your songs?
Often it is the powerful movies, that moves me in some way and that makes me feel some special feeling or think of something special. That get my mind going.
Moonlight. Call Me By Your Name. In The Mood For Love. Paris Texas. A new one that really got to me was Portrait Of A Lady On Fire.
I understand that the piano was the first instrument you learned to play. Is it still very much the driving force that helps you write such lush and emotive arrangements?
Yes, piano is the instrument that I use when I write and also when I’m in the studio.
And I think on this record the use of synths has added a lot to the sound. We’ve been playing around a lot with different synths and it’s been so fun. It’s a nice contrast.
Your new album of course has a much fuller sound. Was it always your intention to make such an atmospheric and immersive album? If so, what were some of the dynamics at play behind it?
Yes I wanted to explore a bigger sound and make it feel a bit deeper. I love working with layers. And I wanted there to be more instruments on this album. It all happened naturally when I started working with Patrik. It felt like we had similar preferences and I loved working with him. We played around a lot with different sounds. And he added a lot. For example he played bass on many of the songs, and drums on some. A nice groove. Which adds a great contrast I think, in the songs.
The new album really seems like a collection of sad songs. But the underlining message is of understanding, maybe even hope. Would you agree?
I’m glad you feel like that. I know the themes of these songs are sad, but I didn’t want them to feel too dark or hopeless. Or like it’s about self-pity. It’s about sharing these feelings and for someone else to maybe be able to recognize them, and feel them and then also maybe to feel less alone. Cause these feelings are so universal. And I also think it’s so important to allow yourself to feel everything and to not avoid the bad feelings. Cause then there’s a chance you can become kind of numb. It’s all intertwined.
The album’s opening track Wish We Had More Time is one of my favourite tracks. Can you tell me something about how it came about?
It’s about choosing to go separate ways, and knowing that it’s for the best, but still caring for each other. So you want to stay in that last moment a little longer. I wanted to capture that.
And I love how the song ends in this long outro. It suits that feeling.
Me and Patrik listened to some live session in the desert with Pink Floyd and got excited and wanted to do something instrumental so we played around and this outro is what happened.
In This Is Where It Ends, you sing: “When we wake up tomorrow morning/ I know nothing will be the same.” Can you tell me a little bit about the meaning behind these lyrics? I kind of feel you are in essence saying all good things must come to an end?
I love how lyrics can mean different things to different people.
That it can mean what you want or need it to mean. That it doesn’t matter what I meant.
But for me those lyrics is about that moment just after having made a decision to end something. Not being able or even wanting to turn back. But still feeling a sadness. And still caring about what you have and maybe wanting to prolong it, because it’s something you know. It’s about that turning point, I guess.
Mississippi is a curious acoustic track that ends the album. Its stripped back arrangement is almost in stark contrast to the rest of the album? Was that intentional?
That song is actually an old sketch that I recorded in my bedroom a couple of years ago. Something I recorded while writing it kind of. And then it’s been lying around.
And it felt nice to have a part of those old recordings on this album. Also, I really like how that song ends on a hopeful line – I wanted them to be the last words on the record. To end with a hopeful feeling.
There really seems to be this deep-seated awakening or culture of music in Sweden. Is it true that music is encouraged from an early age? How intertwined is music in your life?
Yes, we have this thing called Kulturskolan, where kids can take classes in learning to play different instruments and it’s really encouraged. It’s such a great thing. Unfortunately they are cutting down. But I started playing piano there when I was ten.
I also went to a special ”music class” in primary school – so for me music really was a big part of my life from an early age. Also because my dad was playing guitar and there was always a lot of music at home. Playing, singing and listening. I’m so happy for this now, that it’s such a natural part of my life.
Alice, I understand you are very excited about waiting to play your new songs live. How important is that interaction between you and an audience?
I love that feeling, when you’re on stage, and a bunch of people are gathered in the same room, with the intention to just be in this moment together. And time just kind of stops. You connect in some way – through the music. I think it’s really beautiful and important to meet like that.