Since last spring, Swedish trio NONONO has been on everyone’s lips. And with the release of their debut album We Are Only What We Feel they’re now heading for an international break through. Here, they share with us what the hardest part of being an artist is and what their hit song Hungry Eyes is about.
NONONO was created in 2012 when singer Stina met producers Tobias and Michel through their record label Warner/Chapell. They started writing music together and found a mutual sound that they describe as “Urban Indie”, a mix between beats, pop and an independent feeling. Their first hit single Pumpin Blood officially put the trio on the map, and since then expectations have been high. But after the release of their praised debut album, We Are Only What We Feel, they’ve shown that not only can they meet expectations, they can top them too.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve done so far?
Stina: It’s probably the most uncool and strange thing we’ve done, so I guess this is all wrong, but for this last St Patrick’s day we got to go on this “float”, which is this big truck in a parade. And we played Pumpin Blood over and over and yell “Happy St Patrick’s day!” in between. It was so random. So it wasn’t the coolest thing we’ve done, but probably the strangest. I also thought the Skavlan show was fun to do.
What part of the artistry is the most joyful?
Michel: Of all the things we do as artists I like the live thing the most.
Tobias: I like the part when you’ve created a song in the studio, that thrill. But also when we have our own gig and everyone is there to see us. That’s another kind of thrill.
S: I like the whole creative cycle, the process of creating something and getting the reception of it. It makes you feel so good. I’ve been the songwriter and producer, but being in the whole process is so much fun.
I think that idols are something
you have when you’re twelve
Which are your own idols?
M: I think that idols are something you have when you’re twelve.
Yes, but are there some people that you can take inspired from?
S: Right now I’m pretty blown away by Lykke Li’s new album, I think she’s an amazing artist and songwriter. But what you like and listen to shifts all the time. I heard Sébastian Tellier the other day and I really liked his music. It’s usually something that captures you for a moment.
T: When it comes to idols, I think about the artists that I liked when I was younger. I had another kind of relationship to music back then, and I listen to music in a different way now. A lot of the music I grew up with is what I identify with my musical idols.
Who’s writing the songs, or are you writing them together?
S: We do it together, but separate parts, and then we add things to each other’s work.
If you didn’t make music, what would you do?
S: I would probably do my master in psychology; I was studying to become that before this. I think eventually I will become a psychologist.
M: I would still do something creative, maybe photography or PR. Where I would be able to create things.
T: I think I would work with kids and get them into the creative world.
What is Hungry Eyes about?
S: I wrote that song in the beginning of our project. I put it aside and then we started working on it again. I think it’s about not wanting to be in a society with a lot of different rules and norms. It’s about living somewhere where you feel free, without all of the social media around. There are so many frameworks to live by in all of that. I feel locked in by that and the song is about wanting to be free in your head.
Being photographed and judged
by everyone is difficult
You know there’s a song called Hungry Eyes from the movie Dirty Dancing?
S: Isn’t it called Hungry Heart?
No, Hungry Eyes!
S: Does it go like this?
S: Oh, I like that song.
Me too, and your song.
S: Thanks. But I would say it’s about making your own decisions and feeling strong in the fact that you are in charge of your own life. I’m not really good at explaining songs.
What is the hardest part of being an artist?
S: I feel like there’s going to be a different response in a while because everything has happened so quickly. Doing interviews for example, usually you talk with your friends and you get to ask them how they are too. It’s a special kind of situation. Being photographed and judged by everyone is difficult. When you create music and give that to the world, you’re put in a sensitive situation, you are so vulnerable, and that’s really scary I think.
Do you dream about collaborating with some other artist?
S: We’ve been starting to think about that more recently actually. We’ve been so focused on us, and inspired by each other. We are talking about doing different remix collaborations.
M: We talked about doing something for this record, but decided that it was best to just present us on the debut album.
Listen to NONONO’s album We Are Only What We Feel above.
Photography by Mathilda Österlund.