Ängie broke down like a bomb in 2016 with her debut single "Smoke Weed Eat Pussy" and then stood for one of the best Swedish albums of the 2010 with Suicidal Since 1995. Since then she has broken with her record company and become completely independent, found a new partner in Harrison First and continue to grind the music that will take her far outside Sweden's borders.
Meet Ängie who talks about growing up in "hell on earth", the shaky breakthrough, the power of creation, the idol Lana Del Rey, why what she sings about is 100 percent genuine and the special and close relationship she has with her fans.
You have said that you are only passionate about creating art, that it is the only thing that applies to you. When did you realize that was what you would spend your life on?
I don't really know. It's just something I've known throughout my life. It sounds a little cliché, but I've been an artist's soul since I was a kid. I have not been interested in anything other than painting, drawing, singing, you name it. Everything that has some kind of art form. So I have opted for late childhood to refuse other work (laughter).
It was in the 8th or 9th grade that I really decided to invest in art. Almost all girls of that age dream of pursuing music, but then I was most interested in becoming a great artist. I didn't think I was capable of making music for real, even though I wanted to.
How did you find your way into the music?
I ended up in a group of people who saw something in me and they gave me the chance to do something about it. Then I've always been a little provocative and they saw it, so it led to me making the song "Smoke Weed Eat Pussy". After that it just spanned. I almost thought I was dreaming. Everything just happened.
When you debuted 2016 with the song "Smoke Weed Eat Pussy", it felt like you broke through right away. How did you experience that period?
To be perfectly honest, it feels like I was an industrial plant that didn't work. I released a song that was very clickbait-friendly and assume that the record company was thinking "wow, this is going to hit because it's so crazy". But for me it was just a fun song and as time went on I realized it wasn't just the music I wanted to do.
You have said that you wanted the song to be about the same topics that a man could have written about. So drugs and sex. Was it important that it was the song you introduced yourself to?
So, I have no problem with releasing Smoke Weed Eat Pussy as the first song. I love that song and it really makes fun of how rappers behave. Male rappers, because I am very feminist. But if I had been able to go back in time I might have released something else first. Like "Housewife Spliffin'". Some saw the feminist perspective in "Smoke Weed Eat Pussy", while others saw it as a ludicrous song. But had I released "Housewife Spliffin'", people would have seen more than just the funny bone I had. At the same time, I'm glad I debuted with "Smoke Weed Eat Pussy", because it gave me a lot of attention.
In addition to all the praise, you've got strangely enough attention to receive a lot of threats when the song was released. Apparently, you had to stay away from all social media for several days. What was it like to meet the extremes as a new artist?
I remembered that I went out on the lake one weekend and happened on the phone, because I couldn't understand what was happening. I was very shocked, but Ängie today had not been so shocked. But 21-year-old Ängie got it. It was a lot of men in their 50s, 60s and 70s who wrote such brutal comments. There was a threat of rape and murder. Everything possible. Just because I sang about a lesbian sex act. After that, nothing shocks me anymore.
How were you affected by that start?
God... I got a little tired of life, you might say. But it takes quite a bit to crack me. I just continued after that. I wanted to show the world that I can do whatever the hell I want and that it doesn't matter if it's music like "Smoke Weed Eat Pussy" or opera.
The following year you released Suicidal Since 1995, which I think is one of the best Swedish albums released in the 2010s. You have described the record as an open diary from your life as a young person. How do you look at the record today?
It's hard for me to listen through it now. After a while I really understood "I did that". I showed my diary pretty much. I see that record as "little me", but I'm still very happy and proud of it. I like all the songs and think they describe me well.
On the Spotify album cover, it is a picture of you with a snare around your neck, but when released on vinyl it had a completely different cover. How come?
When you have people around you as a record company, managers and agents, many people say what to do. And that time I just felt, excuse my French, "fuck it, I can't cope, do what you want, at least it will be done. There are so many little things that need to be fixed, changed and planned all the time, so sometimes you just get "go with the flow". But today I feel that I would really like to have the right cover on the vinyl record. I love that picture.
Before you released your first album Suicidal Since 1995, you had written around 40 songs. How did it happen that no more were released?
Yes, I have written many songs that will never see the light of day. Some of my unreleased songs are really fucking bad, because I was so inexperienced when I did them. But some I will probably release in a year or so. There are a couple of gold grains.
You broke up with your record label Universal after releasing Suicidal Since 1995 because you felt you needed more creative freedom. Was it an easy decision to make?
It felt like we wanted to go in different directions and I had had three different A&R's while I was with them, so I was in need of some consistency. Then I would prefer to be able to decide for myself when to drop things. I don't want to be in the hands of someone else or be in debt to someone, like money for music videos. I want to be able to do my shit myself, without anyone having to pee in what I do. As long as I do the 50/50 I do now with Harrison First.
I really think the record companies are a dying industry. And it is so much nicer, better and less anxious to be independent. I don't have to deal with a whole lot of fucking fools.
Today, it is very common for great artists not to be associated with record companies, such as artists such as Silvana Imam and Erik Lundin. What do you like about being completely independent?
To have 100 percent freedom. It's nice to not have to go back to another person and ask "is this okay and is this okay?". It was simply not my thing to work with a record label. I want to be completely free in my creation. Then I don't want anyone to walk around and make money on me.
I have seen that you previously started a crowdfund campaign to pay off your debts to your previous record company. How did it go?
It went to hell. It was a little too much money. But I'm on my way to pay for it anyway, which feels very nice. Eventually I will be free from everything and then damn.
How much money was it about?
It's a little hush hush.
In addition to being a songwriter, you direct your own music videos, create your record covers and record short films to your Youtube channel. How important is it for you to have control over the visual whole?
It's very important to me. I want Ängie to be a character in a glamorous 60's movie, but with a twist of the present. That's what I'm passionate about - to create my music, my videos and everything around. And having control over the visual has been almost the most important thing during these years that I've been doing. I want to be able to portray myself without anyone else interfering.
You have said that you love the cinematic and visual in Sofia Coppola's films. What are you drawn to?
Yes, God, yes. I can see Marie Antoinette a thousand times without getting tired of it and they barely say a word in that movie. It's often just small details that like. It's like sometimes when Lana Del Rey writes a song. Then she can paint a picture that is extremely beautiful. Similarly, Sofia Coppola can capture it in a movie. It's just pure eye candy, kind of the most beautiful I've seen. And that's just how "me" it can be.
Like your role model Lana Del Rey, you are very good at creating a world bigger than your music. What did she mean to you?
She's kind of my mom (laughter). It was she who inspired me to make music from the beginning. She made me feel that I can actually make music. I have loved her since the first time I heard her. I only recognize so much in her song lyrics, things that I have also gone through. I don't know how much is genuine about what she sings about, but what I sing about is 100 percent genuine.
What do you recognize yourself in her?
That decadent little teenage girl who pretty much does everything for a drink. Now I am engaged and grown up, but in the past it was so.
Speaking of another source of inspiration - you've done amazing covers of Velvet Underground's song "Venus In Furs" and Lou Reed's hit "Walk On The Wild Side". You have also tattooed his name in a heart on your right arm. How did love for Lou Reed start?
It has to do with my daddy issues - because my dad listened to the Velvet Underground a lot when I was a kid. I remember we often listened to them when we went down to my grandmother in Småland. It was the best time I had with my dad, so that's where my love for Lou Reed grew. I think he was damn cool, but people already know that.
What appeals to you about Velvet Underground and Lou Reed?
The whole aesthetic. The style, the attitude, the story behind and the music so clear. It's like a movie to me. It is also very "me".
I understand that you are a perfectionist when it comes to your creation. How does it feel?
That I can't let go of things when I work with people. I can be damn hard. It has to be be my way. After all, I have OCD, so I have some guidelines to follow and break them for someone I'll be cursed. So I guess I can be pretty hard to work with sometimes. But I know I'm right, so it usually goes well (laughter).
You grew up in Ösmo in Nynäshamn municipality, a place that you have described as restricted and the inhabitants as racist, homophobic and sexist. In a conversation with music journalist Fredrik Strage, you also compared the resort to the movie Gummo, which is about two friends in a small boring American city that kills time with running around and sniffing glue. Was it so bad to grow up there?
Yes, if you were hanging out with the people I was hanging out with. It may be a slightly exaggerated description, but there is a lantis and redneck feeling in Ösmo. I must say that. My life really looked like that when I lived there. I socialized with people who had alcohol problems and pound mothers, so I lived a hard life with my friends. I didn't always share people's values, but when you come from a small place like Ösmo you learn how to deal with it. So it is in a small cave where everyone knows everyone.
How would you describe yourself as a child?
Oh, God... rebel. I thought I was an adult when I was actually 10 years old. No, but ... a bad bastard.
I bought some, junked some. Did stupidity.
You once said that you were a "loner" during growing up.
Yes, I absolutely was. I didn't have many friends. I didn't really fit in, because if you weren't the richest in the world or had Volvo, a villa and a dog, people didn't think it was so bad to hang out with you. I had none of that, so I guess you get categorized. Then I have suffered from depression since I was 12 years old. I have cut myself and tried to take my life several times just because I felt so much misplaced. Ösmo was a mixture of very broken families and wealthy families who moved there because they thought their children would have a better life in the country. So for me it was hard to adjust to who I was. That is why I became very lonely and did not trust so many. I had extreme separation problems, so it would be better if I stayed away.
Today you know you have impulsive borderline, ADD and OCD. But as a kid, when did you realize you had some kind of diagnosis?
My mother probably understood that I had ADD very early. I had a hard time focusing on school, but once I got into something I really did it fully. Like drawing or writing. When it comes to borderline, my mom probably knew I had it from when I was 12 years old.
How did it affect you to have those diagnoses during childhood?
Not good. It is not easy for a teenager to see herself as her illness instead of learning from it. So I thought I was mentally disturbed when I was a kid, which you really aren't if you have borderline. It's just hard to adjust to their feelings and learn how to deal with them. But I would probably say that borderline is more of a blessing than a curse when it comes to my creation. It may sound a bit narcissistic, but I see myself as very deep and understanding when it comes to emotions because I have dealt with them so much. I know what I'm talking about. Therefore, I can describe and more easily put them into an art form.
I understand that nature is very important to you. Was it already that way since you were small?
Yes, if you have smoked for 15 years and tried to hide it from your parents then nature would've been very important (laughter). But yeah, I've always liked the best there. It's quiet there and I can only think of being one with nature.
I recently moved back to Nynäshamn. I love staying here. It is so beautiful now in the summer. I like the feeling of living here with my hubby and seeing the sea every morning when I wake up. I've tried to live in Stockholm and don't think it is anything for me to live in the middle of the batter.
It feels like living in a chicken cage.
I understand that your hope is that others will be able to find support and help in your music and lyrics. Did you have any particular musical pillars during your childhood?
I listened to so much emo music, so I don't know what to say for any particular band. Maybe My Chemical Romance. Then I listened to the Velvet Underground a lot, but it might not be so good for a 14-year-old girl to listen to how someone pulls heroin.
Otherwise, I know Kent is a band that has been important to you.
God yes. Anyone who doesn't listen to Kent is stupid in the head. They are the finest Sweden has. How stupid I am to forget them. It's probably just because I've always listened to Kent. It's my go-to music.
Kent is a band that has really had a problematic relationship with their growing up town Eskilstuna. Singer Jocke Berg has described the city as a place where you could not stand out or think you were someone. Is there something you can recognize yourself in?
I can really recognize that in. After all, I was bullied throughout my fucking upbringing because I was an emo or… yes, there were so many things you could be bullied for. Ösmo is really such a place. You must not stick out.
Was it important for you to get away from Ösmo?
Yes, God, yes! I would have taken my life a long time ago if I had stayed. Ugh, I don't set foot there and I live three stations away. It is the worst place there is. It is hell on earth.
You got a record contract shortly after you left the aesthetic program at the high school. How did it happen?
One of my first songs I did was "Smoke Weed Eat Pussy" and it circulated among various A&R's. So I had the manager and record contract. I hardly remember anything from that first period, because it went so fast and I said yes to everything. My third gig was when I was visiting Elliphant on the Green. Uh, what?! It was completely unrealistic. But it was stupid of me to even sign the record deal. I regret it to 100 percent.
What was your goal with music then?
It's the same as now: to be bigger than Sweden and leave this hole too. But we will see what happens.
Nowadays you have a Youtube channel that attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers from all over the world, you have performed at the Pride festival in St. Petersburg in Russia and been attracted internationally by magazines such as NME and The Guardian. How does it feel to have moved from Ösmo to this place in life?
I still feel extremely small, so I hardly see it as an accomplishment Sure, it's cool that I've succeeded with those things. Not least that I have been to Russia and performed on Pride. But it's hard to see and appreciate it from my perspective. I don't think: "shit, how great that I was interviewed by that and that magazine". It would just be weird. But it is after all the right fat that I have managed to do something about this little girl.
In an interview with Rodeo, you have said that Sweden does not like you. Neither Spotify, the record companies nor the booking companies. How come you feel this way?
Sometimes I can be very bitter, totally without reason. But considering that I'm bigger abroad, it doesn't feel like I'm a Swedish artist. Tove Lo and I sing about the same things ish, but she is big in Sweden because she broke through in the US first. That's when you are accepted in Sweden. So I have to succeed with what Tove did to be appreciated in Sweden, because everyone here sleeps on the ball.
But sometimes I talk too much, especially in interviews.
Do you think there is a big difference in how you are received abroad compared to Sweden?
Yes, God, yes. I feel much more loved by fans and journalists abroad. Here I am the worst star.
You have a lot of fans in countries like Brazil, the US and Russia who hear from you. What writes them?
I have a group on Instagram where I talk to a few fans all over the world. We just talk about everyday things and how fucked up the world is. Then I talk to people if they feel bad. There are a lot of people - especially guys - who come out as gay to me and who have a hard time at home, so I try to push them to "stand strong". Although their parents are the worst, there is nothing wrong with them. There are many such dialogues I have with my fans.
I think it's important. If I am now an idol to someone then I want to be the one who makes them realize that there is nothing wrong with them. It's the world that's wrong.
For me it is important to talk about mental health and the stigma around it. I want people to understand that people like Kylie Jenner also feel bad sometimes. It is ridiculous to think that famous people do not feel bad. So I want to tell those who are listening and my fans that it's 100 percent okay to feel bad. It's sicker not to feel bad in the world we live in.
In interviews, you have been told that you felt better for years of smoking weed, that it helped alleviate anxiety and other mental disorders. But when your best friend and agent passed away in 2017, you quit. Why?
I continued to smoke for a long time, but in the end it was like the drug turned to me. I couldn't really handle it anymore. Every time I smoked, I started having death anxiety. It hit me pretty hard and I couldn't relax anymore. Then I felt that I had to quit. Now I haven't smoked in a year and four months.
How does it feel?
Good. It feels great that I succeeded after smoking every day for 15 years. I think it's strong. I am proud of myself.
How did you change by your best friend passed away?
It was really a bang on the jaw when he died. I felt that I was not immortal and that it could die if I continued to live the lifestyle that I did. Even if I didn't die, someone else I loved could die. So I felt I had to turn on almost everything. And I have done this gradually.
Around that time I lived a very decadent lifestyle and it scared me when he died. It was the first time I lost someone so close to me. I don't want to go through it again. It's the most awful thing I've been through. I actually started to cry over him at the latest today.
After you stopped smoking weed, you think that you have become a better songwriter. How?
100 percent. I've gotten so much better. It is better lyrics and melodies. Everything is better. I have learned so much from being sober and working. Before, I thought I needed to smoke a bunch to write, but now I know it's not the best thing for me to make music. A beer, on the other hand…
Now you released the album Not Pushing Daisies with Harrison First, but already in 2018 you talked about releasing an album. What was going on at the time?
First of all, I ended up in a dispute with my producer, so I stopped working with him. Then it became like a break for me and then I did a little work here and there. I released a few singles and then I met Harrison First, who is one of my best friends today and with whom I work really well. We have a lot of fun.
In addition to the Harrison album, I have another album that is ready and waiting. Hopefully it will be released after the summer. The albums are completely different from each other. Not Pushing Daisies is a bit more commercial and the second album is more artistic.
How did you and Harrison First find each other?
One day he wrote to me on Instagram saying that I would come to a studio in Stockholm. It was a Saturday and I had no desire at all, but my boyfriend said "you are leaving, because I pay the rent right now". So I went there and met him. We are so different. I am a satanist and he is a Christian, but friendly we are a perfect match. We have fun together and understand each other's differences. The first time we saw we did the song "BAMBAM" and it just got so good.
So you didn't know each other since before?
No, not at all. If you say no to too much, nothing will happen. You have to become a yes-sayer to make things happen.
For a while you were thinking about naming the album for Life Is Disgusting. Why?
Yes, or Everything Is Fake. There have been many titles. It is simply because life is disgusting and fake. These are just facts.
You described the record Suicidal Since 1995 as a diary from your life as a young person. How would you describe the album Not Pushing Daisies?
I probably see it as my diary part 2, though a more adult version of myself, a more free version of myself and memories. Memories that mean a lot to me, everything from hateful feelings to pigs who can't behave because you have some songs on Spotify and stories about love, broken hearts and freedom.