THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT

Editorial: 05.23.18
Words: Jonna Hunt Photography: Christopher Hunt

Daniel Filipsson, known as Ljus, writes poetic and personal pop songs. We paid a visit to his studio in Stockholm ahead of his second album release this summer.

c_leftc_right YOUR SONGS VENDETTA AND STELLA ARE BOTH PERSONAL AND DEEPLY EMOTIONAL. CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF WRITING THEM? IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO FIND PERSONAL SUBJECTS IN YOUR SONGS?

I have to write about something that’s personal to me. When it becomes personal to others like in these two songs it is harder. It is a balance. I recorded demos on the songs and let the concerned listen and read each word. I would not be able to release the songs without their permission and appreciation. Both songs describe the worst form of humiliation and abuse and many become uncomfortable when you make pop out of such topics. It can be seen as trying to reduce the experience of the victims, even if the effect becomes the opposite.  

WHEN DID YOU START WRITING MUSIC?

I remember my first song. I was nine years old and was dealing with sweaty feet. The music was neither fun nor good, but I can still remember the satisfaction of creating something.

WHERE DO YOU USUALLY WRITE?

I used to sit down and write text for hours when I was younger and work on melodies. Now the ideas usually come when I cycle around in town but the songs are first written when I sit down with an instrument, at home or in the studio. If I don’t find a substance I scrap it straight away. Otherwise I continue until the basic idea is finished. Then it can take years before I’m completely done …  

WAS MUSIC ALWAYS PART OF YOUR LIFE? HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOU COULD MAKE MUSIC?

Music has always influenced me. I started to play the piano when I was 7 but actually it was mostly to stay occupied. It was as a teenager I first experienced the magic of creating music. Back then it was mainly about punk.

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DANIEL IN OH-12 

WHAT DOES YOUR ARTIST NAME LJUS REFER TO AND WHY DID YOU PICK THE NAME?

I easily get tired of things, and hence I felt stupid to pick my real name. If people get tired of your music, you do not have to pull yourself down in the fall if you have an artist’s name. I asked my friend Andreas Ackerup, who is a photographer about what name he thought I should pick and he immediately responded Ljus, meaning light in Swedish. I didn’t even question it because I know what the meaning of light has for a photographer.

WHAT DOES LIGHT MEAN TO YOU?

Compensation for darkness

YOU TRAINED CLASSICAL PIANO FOR 10 YEARS, HOW HAS THAT FORMED YOU AS AN ARTIST?

I really don’t know. Classical music may have made me less interested in popular culture and given me an unconfirmed attitude to pop music. I love pop music but never listened to it that much. I prefer writing.

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DANIEL IN 0H-12 

YOU’RE A BIG BACH FAN, WHEN AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER HIM?

The first time I really understood the strength of his music was a winter day in 1999. I had played a lot of his music and liked it but one day when I had lunch I started crying hysterically without knowing why. After a minute I realised that the stereo was on. The music penetrated me and made me feel real. It was Glenn Gould who played Prelude No. 22 in B-flat minor from the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier. The thing about Bach’s music is that you can’t hear it’s a human behind it. It’s so much larger.

DESCRIBE A SPOT OR PLACE WHERE YOU GO TO RECHARGE.

In a boat at sea or in the city.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW?

My family, my friends and staying on top of my brain.  

ARE YOU RELEASING ANY NEW SONGS SOON?

My second album is released in August 2018, but I release a single today, Allt ska dö. It is simple and happy and is about spring in Stockholm. Does it not sound like Motown?

DANIEL IN OH-12