He is only just on the cusp of releasing his debut solo album, yet Henrik Appel has already spent a solid thirteen year stint as one of the key figures on the Stockholm underground scene. After moving to the Swedish capital as a 20 year old, Henrik’s reputation grew as the bassist of Kilroy and Martin Savage Gang, before stepping up to the microphone as frontman of Lion’s Den. Henrik’s debut solo record, Burning Bodies, is out next month, and today we’re premiering the latest track from it, Tomorrow.
You may know Henrik’s other projects, however perhaps that won’t prepare you for the artistic about-turn that comes with his debut solo record. Written over five years, the record is a series of love songs to both relationships and friends, the energy of his previous work paired back to something lo-fi, minimalistic and stunningly intimate – Tomorrow is no exception.
Tomorrow is one of the record’s most outwardly upbeat moments; with its rapid tempo and bright guitar sound, you could be forgiven for assuming it’s a straight forward love song, yet there’s something in the noncommittal time frame that hints this might not quite be the greatest love story ever told. There’s the repeated refrain, “stay with me until tomorrow”; the subtle hint, it’s companionship, not true love that the mysterious “she” wants as Henrik recalls how, “you took my hand so tight, you said ‘can you stay all night, I don’t like the morning light'”. Henrik has suggested one of the key ideas behind the production of the record was to, “generate a big sound with little instrumentation.” Henrik recorded the vocal and guitar together as single live take, before adding additional ideas later, in this case steady, primal drums, propulsive bass and almost barber-shop backing vocals. Equal parts Kane Strang and The Velvet Underground, Henrik Appel has been making music for a while and is now stepping out on his own: we’re witnessing the rebirth of one of music’s compelling voices.
Listen to Tomorrow below, and then read on for our interview with Henrik where we discuss Stockholm, going solo and how making music, “is something that I have to do to be happy”.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Henrik Appel?
I don’t know if I know who he is haha. But in a musical sense he sings and plays guitar in Lion’s Den besides releasing his solo album.
FTR: We’re premiering your new single Tomorrow, what can you tell us about it?
It’s kind of up-tempo which makes it stand out from the rest of the album. Marin Konie Ehrencrona plays bass clarinet, and Emma Lind doing the backing vocals, and the rest is by me.
FTR: You’ve played with a lot of other people in the past, what made this the right time to release a solo record?
We had a slow period with my band and I had all these songs that I wanted to make an album off but that I didn’t feel really fit the band and suddenly I had the time. I don’t know if it’s the right time for a solo record but I think it was the right time to record the songs because if I would have recorded them one year earlier the album would have sounded different.
FTR: You’ve called your new album Burning Bodies, what was the thought behind the title?
For me burning bodies can describe different feelings, both outside and inside the body. And the album is about different feelings.
FTR: What can you tell us about recording the album?
It was recorded and produced by Marin Konie Ehrencrona (Viagra Boys and Les Big Byrd) in his studio Cobra in Stockholm during four days in November 2017 and one day in February 2018. It’s basically me singing with an electric guitar and then we added instruments on that. I wanted it to sound as much as possible with as little as possible, so I only wanted max three instruments on each song (except on Tomorrow). And also the feeling of the takes was more important than me playing perfectly. I play guitar, synth, bass and drums, Konie plays Synth, Tone generator and Bass clarinet, Emma Lind sings and Hannes Ferm aka HOLY plays synth and piano.
FTR: There’s a definite lo-fi sound to your recordings, was that something you wanted? Or just how it turned out?
I wanted it to sound like that. I like those kind of records, like Velvet Underground records and The Fall, especially the album Dragnet. And modern records released by labels like In The Red Record etc.
FTR: What’s the music scene like in Stockholm? What bands should we be listening to?
I think the music scene in Stockholm is great! And now we also have great labels like PNKSLM, Push My Buttons, Lazy Octopus and Maternal Voice that release these bands. Right now I like Slug Bait, Vidro, HOLY, New Feelings and Isotop Sope,
FTR: What are your aspirations for this record? Do you see music as a viable career?
Until now the aspiration has mainly been to release the album so I don’t know, hopefully I can play more shows. I don’t know, I don’t really see music as a viable career considering the kind of music I make, but what do I know… Primarily it is something that I have to do to be happy, creating stuff. For others it may be gardening, writing or building boats, but for me it’s creating music.
FTR: What’s next for Henrik Appel?
Next weekend I will play on PNKSLM 5th Birthday party in Stockholm
Burning Bodies is out June 29th via PNKSLM Recordings. Click HERE for more information on Henrik Appel.