Solen – Mixed emotions

This talented band of five just released a single titled ‘Miljonär’ , and later this winter a full album will be out. Radar visited Solen during a rehearsal to get an update on their expectations and to talk about their thoughts on making music!

Solen was founded in 2011 and consists of singer Erik Hillborg, base player Nils Dahlqvist, guitarists Gustav Karlsson and Johan Kilström, and drummer Olle Darmell. Erik, Nils, Gustav, and Olle met in high school back in Gävle, Sweden, and in 2015 Johan joined the band.

On your facebook page you wrote that ‘Miljonär’ was released with mixed emotions. Why?

Gustav: We started working on this record during the summer of 2015, and began recording it in January 2016. When you’ve worked on something for that long it feels kind of empty when all of a sudden it’s done. Finishing a record is kind of an anticlimax. Plus Olle wanted to be funny.

When listening to the songs by Solen, one might wonder whether the guys in the band have been lavished with bad break ups or unrequited love. But they reassure me that they haven’t, and that the stories that they tell are mostly fiction.

Gustav: A lot of musicians work from an underdog perspective. That’ll never be us. We’re not more sad or hurt than others.

Olle: Maybe you could say that we’re writing from a middledog perspective. The feelings and situations that our songs are about are not unusual or extraordinary stuff. It’s the things that everyone who’s in touch with their inner self has felt.

Gustav: … but I feel like if you, as a reporter, would rather hear that “Yeah, it’s all stories from Erik’s life”.

Olle Darmell

What does the lyrics mean to you?

Erik: The lyrics are not made for us, so it’s not important or interesting what they mean to us. It’s up to whoever listens to them to decide what they mean for them. We don’t have a goal of creating a certain reaction.

Did someone ever confront you about the lyrics or believe that a song was about them?

Olle: We had a gig in Malmö once, and after it a person came knocking on our loge door and said that there was a lady who wanted to talk to us. An old woman who was really, really sad came in, and apparently her daughter had committed suicide some time ago. She thought that some of our lyrics and the stories in our songs reminded her of her daughter’s behavior, so she wanted to meet whoever had written the text to ask him how he was doing. I guess she was worried.

Johan Kilström

Now that you’ve released two albums – of which one was a super success – what are your expectations on this record?

Olle: My expectations go up and down. Sometimes I worry that this album is going to get a one-plus-rating in Aftonbladet. Other times, usually when I’m drunk, I think the album is brilliant.

What happens if you get one plus from Aftonbladet? Do you give up?

Gustav: I think you’d have to take a step back and think. It’s hard to know how you’d react to a bad review. It would be interesting to learn what you’d do if the album gets crushed by the media. What happens to a person when they’ve put in so much work and time into something that fails?

Nils: On the other hand, you could always say that whoever doesn’t like the album simply doesn’t understand it. We could just say that we’ve taken a step in another direction, and then it’d be their bad for not getting it.

Johan: And you can always see it as a receipt of whether it was a good move to include me in the band. That’s a good thing to blame potential failures on.

Erik: Maybe the worst of all would be to get three stars. Then you’d have awoken some kind of emotion, but it didn’t quite make it all the way.

Gustav: Aren’t we a classic three-star-band, though?

I know that you sometimes go to the Swedish countryside together to create music. Tell me about those trips!

Gustav: We don’t produce a lot of quality. It’s more of a teambuilding thing. We have fun, rehearse a little. And get swollen because of all the booze and chips.

Listening to Solen talk is like watching a well produced American sitcom. The comebacks are quick, the dialogue is amusing and the characters are well casted. The band members met when they were young, and anyone can see that the guys enjoy each other’s company. Maybe the summer trips have helped.

Olle: It’s like we’re a tiny company when we’re away. “Olle – you’ve got this”, “Nils – you fix that”. There’s a kind of a SWAT-team vibe. We’re good at assigning people to boss over areas that they feel are important.

Nils Dahlqvist

Since their last album, the guys have toured Sweden and Norway, gotten nominated for a Grammis, and gained a solid fan base.

Does this release feel the same as your first?

Gustav: The last record was so much more successful than we’d ever imagined. We couldn’t have foreseen that we were going to get nominated for a Grammis. This time around, it’s been less chance and more hard work. We’ve learned a lot from the last album, and this time we have been trying different ways of perfecting the songs. “How would it sound if we tweaked the drums”, “what if we added more of his feeling to the track”.

Does the new album sound the same as your previous ones?

Nils: For us it doesn’t, but for the big audience I think it will. It’s still Solen. It’s still Eriks voice, the songs are still about the same themes.

It sounds more expensive. 

Olle: We hope so. It was.

Check out Solen on Facebook and Spotify!

Photos by Hanna Bergström
Text by Agnes Stenbom