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Photo by Jonas Rönnberg
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Photo by Jonas Rönnberg
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Photo by Jonas Rönnberg

AnnaMelina: Ceremonial Soundscapes

March 1, 2019
Text by Claire Mouchemore
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Photo by Jonas Rönnberg

AnnaMelina ponders ritualistic practices, emanating the sound of nature and redefining herself as an electronic musician.

AnnaMelina grew up in the countryside of Gotland, a small picturesque medieval town in the south of Sweden. She grew up surrounded by nature — which can be heard in the trickling of her auto-tuned vocals. Now based in the island city of Stockholm the producer and vocalist escapes from the city via her tours through Europe and more recently parts of Mexico, where — alongside Northern Electronics label affiliate and producer Jonas Rönnberg aka Varg— AnnaMelina presents their collaborative ambient and experimental project FLORA. The project was first showcased at Berlin Atonal in 2017 and even allowed the pair to ring in the New Year at famed Georgian club Bassiani in Tbilisi as the year drew to a close. The duo’s debut EP »Impatience« was released in mid-2018, and earlier this month they premiered »Limestone Island« — one part of a new monthly single series that will present a culmination of their recent musical musings.

AnnaMelina’s foray into the music world began as she experimented with more traditional avenues of sound that took shape in the form of acoustic instruments; however, she quickly replaced those with her laptop. And now, the allure of analog hardware has prompted the Swedish singer to explore new sounds and reinvent herself as an electronic musician that engages with more tactile methods of production. In the coming months, AnnaMelina will unveil her new solo project vallmo through which she will release a tape titled ruin walls, the tape will contain eight tracks and is set to be released on April 26th via Northern Electronics.

What are your first memories of embodying music and physicalizing sound?

When I was a child I would — without fail — notice if there were a watch or some sort of clock in the room, I would notice the sound and imitate the tick of it. I started doing this before I could even speak. I would distinctively hear that sound and obsess over it for hours. Now I can connect that fascination with the metronome. I can remember writing songs in my head and working on melodies before I knew how to speak properly. When I was seven years old I received my first synth, I still have it, and I used it last time I was in Gotland.

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Photo by Jonas Rönnberg

You grew up in Gotland. It’s beyond beautiful, from what I can tell.

Environment wise it’s spectacular. I grew up very close to nature. I was quite lonely at times, so I spent a lot of my childhood in the forest alongside animals. Back then and even now I maintain a very close relationship to nature and to that calm, yet dense and robust type of environment. It’s an extraordinary variety of nature in Gotland, beautiful nature with a dark side — which I think that I have too. I still feel very at home and peaceful there.

As you said — especially through describing nature — there’s a dark side to it. Does this world influence your music?

Nature is very important to me, and I think it shines through in my projects. The environment is the one factor that inspires and controls me. It’s my most notable influence. Jonas and I both came from a past of dramatic nature. Although we lived at opposite ends of the country our upbringings and exposure to wildlife and landscapes are very similar. The FLORA project was realized during one of our many stays together in Gotland.

Can you talk about the evolution of the FLORA project that you are a part of with Jonas aka Varg?

FLORA began when Jonas reached out to me. I hadn’t heard his music before we started working together and soon enough I was featured on his album Nordic Flora Series Pt.3 (Gore-Tex City). We are so different yet the way we work together is so effortless.

FLORA is something that we work with every day; we thrive through the project. It developed very quickly and continues to nourish us. We never felt unsure or uncomfortable in it — it’s always felt straightforward and led us. We believed in it without any doubt. Additionally, the FLORA project continually provides me with inspiration for the AnnaMelina project and my future solo work.

It seems as though the two of you are continuously creating, undertaking a never-ending exploration of sorts.

It’s very much alive. We trigger each other a lot through building this floral kingdom. It’s not just about making music via the FLORA project; it’s about exchanging ideas.

How essential are visual and aesthetic elements to your performance? Specifically with FLORA in mind.

The development of scenography has become very important. This performative element plays a huge role in creating an environment and inviting people into something more than a performance — something that transcends a musical showcase. It’s actually about building a moment that can only ever be experienced there. The idea to dress the stage with flowers came about during the preparation for our Atonal show in 2017. Having that experience with the audience is wonderful. It’s almost like putting up a show or a play, rather than just performing music — it’s entwined with the act of it all. It’s like creating a new space, a new time and space for that exact moment. It also feels very personal. It’s nice to do something that makes you feel like you’re bringing the world of FLORA to life.

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Photo by Jonas Rönnberg

It’s a very ritualistic practice, and one that I’m sure would differ from city to city — every city hosts an entirely different landscape and with that, an entirely different variety of wildlife.

Exactly, we arrive at a new place, and we bring FLORA into it, but it also brings itself into it. I adore the whole process of this flower ritual because we become very close with the people that are working to put the performance together. Upon touching down in the country and before each show we would wander into a forest in search of flowers, led by the promoter. Once we had collected the flora the team would help us hang the pieces in the venue. After the performance, those that helped with the preparation would take the flowers home with them and once again these pieces are given new life.

Aside from preparing yourselves for the performance, does this process also act as a method to cleanse the new spaces and environments that FLORA is engaging with?

Each time, we are met by a completely blank space, and then we work away at creating something in that space until it feels like home. It’s definitely cleansing, a bit like meditation. It takes time to collect and tie everything after finally finding somewhere to hang it all, and that’s all before the show has even started. It’s always a bit stressful, and rather than the calm before the storm it’s combining the moments of calm with the imminent storm.

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PW-Magazine is a bilingual online magazine for contemporary culture.