EMERGING SWEDISH SONGSTRESS DOWN UNDER
Saanda Lund in performance
Special to the Danish Pioneer
By Eric K. Williams
MELBOURNE, Australia – It is a long way from Gothenberg, Sweden to the land called Down Under but, for a handful of performing artists, Australia offers the right venue for growth and artistic experimentation. Such is the case for a young and emerging performer named Saanda Lund, whose tender voice and words, shows promise in songwriting and story telling. She expresses herself with original material, in songs ranging from the ironic to humorous. Lund’s recent performance at a fashionable cafe in Melbourne was a spirited affair, that demonstrated her range of topics and vocal skill to an interested audience open to a young woman’s vision from Nordic Europe.
She accompanies herself on acoustic guitar, an instrument she has been playing for less than five years. Her Gothenberg experience, she said, was a mixed bag where she performed in duos and mostly small rock bands since 2001.Lunddescribed that time as a mixed blessing. A period described as “teenager stuff” and, for her the Gothenberg experience in small combos and rock bands was “nothing serious, really.” She also described it as a time that was valuable in many ways and, that afforded her a learning experience in singing composing and performing.
Her current style is folksy and, contains tales of growing up as a young woman coming of age. It was the tiny French bistro called La Niche Cafe, located in the fashionable district of Fitzroy, where she performed to a small but, overflowing audience that heard her for the first time. Her appearance at La Niche was much anticipated. Much of the smallish club’s patrons are loyal regulars but, word of mouth advertising travels far and wide inMelbourne. She sat on a high stool, guitar on lap, and played two spirited sets the evening of her program.
Like the singer who performed to that overflow audience, the venue, owned by a recent French émigré, La Niche Cafe has been around less than ten years. The owner, who would only introduce himself as Antoine, said that he offers emerging artists a place to perform nearly every week and, that adds flavor to his café. Such was the case the night of Lund’s performance this Spring. Flavor, indeed, of a Nordic touch.
Saanda Lund, whose evolving sound shows that she has been influenced by the many popular musicians on the European scene, currently sings her songs in English. She named such current popular musicians as Anna Brund, a Norwegian vocalist many mistake as a Swede, as well as, Jose Gonzales among those who have influenced her sound. Of those on the Scandinavian pop music scene, she said that the choices for listeners are varied there and, that Gothenberg is a setting where one can find “a lot of amazing acoustic artists out there.” The acoustic sound is where she plans to stay, at least for now.
The choice of language in both her writing and performing style may seem a curious decision on her part but, her reasoning is simple. “Not many people speak Swedish outsideScandinavia,” she said. In addition,Lundadded that she had made several attempts to write songs in her native tongue but, for her “it (was) too naked, since it is my native language.” Writing song lyrics in Swedish,Lundcontinued, “puts a higher pressure” on herself and, with a laugh, added that “(One) has to use a handsome language, as I call it. And, you have to be able to express yourself in a clear and concise manner and, I am not there yet.” English, she added allows her to “cover up some things” in the crafting of a song. One would never know that, going by the favorable response of theMelbourneaudience at La Niche.
Lund, 23, says that Melbourne and her native Gothenberg are similar in many ways for upcoming performers. Both are competitive cities with large circles of singers, musicians, actors, songwriters and producers of many genres. Yet, performing in her native Gothenberg, she said, was not easy, “I think you have to struggle wherever you are. It is a constant struggle to get gigs.”Melbourne, she said, is the one place where experimentation in performing her art offers new and different challenges.
Part of the new challenge includes what confronts every new artist in any city and, that is, where to play and, what venues are willing to give you a chance. In the meantime Lundperforms at showcase venues, on the streets and, ‘open mic’ events that are scattered around Melbourne and, the rest of Victoria. The La Niche job was her first as a headline act. “I am going through the same struggles that I went through in Gothenberg. Then again, I am quite happy to play in a place such as La Niche, here inMelbourne.”Melbourne is an important place this time of her life, she said, “I am trying to find a way to express myself…when you’re kind of green, it is a bit hard to express yourself in a unique way.”
That unique way of expression was greeted warmly. One song that caught the attention of the audience was called “MISTER RIGHT.” It is a tune about relationships and the tensions between men and women. Mostly, it is a song that centers on trying to fit in among your peers. It is a song full of irony, anger, humor and insight. She spoke of writing honest lyrics. The song came about she said, while in a frustrated state and relationship that pushed her to desperation after becoming single. It came about one spring season two years ago, she laughed. Her friends and peers were having fun, it seemed, and most were in quality relationships that left her feeling empty. At a concert in Gothenberg afterwards, one fan walked up to her and said, “Should I feel bad if I recognize myself in that song?” Looking back,Lund laughed at the picture of herself she painted in the song.
The audience at La Niche was appreciative and receptive toLund’s humor and irony expressed between songs. She demonstrated much promise and, displayed her vocal range and phrasing of songs with ease. It was a pleasant performance. Maybe it was because she appeared exotic, Northern European and, a fresh face on theMelbournemusic scene. Perhaps not, and the attention from theMelbourneaudience was more than mere curiosity. One thing is clear, Saanda Lund is a newcomer working on a new CD of material and, honing a new style in folk music. It is not, she said, as a “Swedish artist” but, simply an artist who is Swedish. She is on the rise and, hard at work perfecting her craft and said, she plans to be around for a while.
Eric K. Williams occasionally files stories to the Danish Pioneer and, he is also a staff reporter for the Pacifica Radio Network station, WBAI-FM in New York City. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia.