Emil Heró

This week, singer of Swedish pop phenomenon Urban Cone, Emil Gustafsson, makes his solo debut under the name of Emil Heró. We met him during the production of a music video, on a beach in Stockholm, to learn more.

I began playing the piano when I was in first grade, I was about six, seven years old, Emil recalls. And then I kept doing that until someone told me that it was uncool to play the piano. I was also playing the trumpet. I just thought it was so much fun to be able to make sounds. I was encouraged by my grandfather, and I continued to play until maybe junior high school. When it was time to apply for secondary school, my music teacher suggested I apply to the music school Rytmus, and I was accepted, even though I didn’t have any experience in songwriting.

– I didn’t write songs in quite the same way the others did. Most people in my class were doing singer songwriter-stuff, but I did things my own way. I don’t think I’ll ever do what everyone else is doing. You have to trust yourself and what you believe to be good, and not listen to what others define as good.

How did Urban Cone come about?
– Initially it was Rasmus Flyckt and me who started Urban Cone. We were playing in another band at first, but we both felt that kind of music wasn’t our thing; it was more of guitar rock. Instead Rasmus and me started playing together, which was a lot of fun. We uploaded the first song online, and that made it possible for us to play live. We decided from the start that we would do everything ourselves, writing and producing and so forth.

There’s something beautiful
to be found in every music genre,
if you’re just looking for it

Now you’ve also embarked on a solo career. Will you do that parallel to Urban Cone, or are you planning to focus on your solo artistry?
– No, no it’s totally parallel. I’ve always done dance music on the side, and I’ve always enjoyed it. I can go to the studio and just give vent to all my feelings. This solo project is more of a side thing that I find extremely joyful. I think it’s good to have different projects that you’re passionate about.

What are the differences between the Emil Heró and Urban Cone, music-wise?
– It’s two different genres. My solo project is much more dance music, and I do a lot of remixes of songs I like. I think a lot of people will find it similar to Justice and Daft Punk. I remember hearing Justice’s first album; it was basically the only album I listened to in my first year of secondary school.

What has inspired you, musically?
– When I started listening to music I liked punk. Then I moved on to metal, hard rock, and acoustic music. I truly believe there’s something beautiful to be found in every music genre, if you’re just looking for it.

Emil Heró. Photo by Victoria Stillwell.
Emil Heró. Photo by Victoria Stillwell.

Do you write and produce everything yourself?
– With this EP I got some help from a friend of mine, Hedvig. She helped me with the vocals. I took her in just because I love her voice.

Do you have any specific theme on the EP?
– The title of the EP is 1992, which is the year I was born. The track called 1992 is very much “right now”, but the song Television is inspired by an Andy Warhol quote: “When I got my first television I stopped caring about all my relations”. But there’s not always a deep meaning to them, sometimes the songs have just sprung out of something fun.

If you didn’t make music, what do you think you would do?
– I think I would make movies. The music video we’re making now, for the track Love, is directed by me.

What kind of movies?
– I would say short movies. Or music videos. I wouldn’t start with feature films. Maybe short featurettes.

What are the pros and cons of working on your own?
– Advantage number one is that no one else has the right to tell you whether you do things right or wrong. Disadvantage number one is that no one comes in and tells you whether you are doing things right or wrong. Of course it’s nice that no one tells you that ‘this isn’t good enough, re-do it’. You have a much more freedom to create. For instance, if I want to do a remix of a song, I can just walk in to the studio and do it. But the downside is that there’s no one to help you with what to do either. 

Do you have anybody to bounce ideas with?
– Yes, I do. I’m very tight with Lucas Nord. I also have a close contact with Rasmus from Urban Cone. I’m really happy that we have that kind of relationship, where it’s not stiff, you know?

Emil Heró’s debut EP 1992 will be released on November 8. Listen to his song Love above.

Photos by Victoria Stillwell.