"I'm all over the place," Lykke Li mutters while laying across a compact bunk bed on her tour bus. She's hardly exaggerating: Since releasing her third studio album, I Never Learn, in May, the Swedish indie-pop songstress has been living the nomadic life on the road, playing a seemingly endless stream of shows, and will continue to do so until early 2015. And it's not just geographical messiness, either. Heart-wrenching ballads like "Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone” and "Never Gonna Love Again" shed light on the musician's fluctuating emotional state.
Yet for someone who's just suffered a painful breakup, rebounding with a chart-topping album and new fashion line only proves just how shockingly centered Li really is. And it takes a true artist to be able to weave the two disparate entities into a cohesive whole that reflects her inner feelings, needs, and frustrations (nearly every item in her line is black as a testament to her melancholy mood and unabashed practicality). We caught up with the singer in transit following her performance at N.Y.C.'s Radio City Music Hall and discussed her new album, nomadic life, and collaboration with & Other Stories. Here's an excerpt from our chat:
I Never Learn sounds decidedly darker than your previous releases. The portrait of heartbreak is palpable.
Being a woman living in your twenties is hard for everyone, and I think 27 is a particularly hard age where you're on the cusp of becoming a woman, and especially when you're just coming out of a relationship like I was. That was just how I felt at the time.
Has moving to L.A. had an effect on your music-making?
L.A. has a tradition of great songwriting and music and general—it's been a refuge for a lot of artists, so that's been very inspiring to be surrounded by artists and songwriters and the sun, the stars, and the moon. But when I create, it’s all about my heart and soul.
What's going on in your heart and soul right now?
It’s pretty rough to be on tour for years straight and not have a home and not have anywhere to rest. It creates a restlessness inside of you. It wears you out.
You don't seem to be tiring, though. Your collaboration with & Other Stories just hit stores. Have you always been interested in designing?
I’ve done it for myself for quite a while—I’ve always gone to tailors and drawn my own stuff, and as a kid, I was always remaking my clothes—but I never thought that I’d do it for someone else. This was just an amazing chance to make my own dream wardrobe, so I just jumped on that chance.
Let's talk about the clothes.
I thought to myself, "What are the pieces I've always wanted but can never find?" I'm always looking for clean lines and masculine cuts—simple and high quality garments. I wear the croc loafers every day.
The collection is almost entirely black. Why are you so attracted to the color?
Black is what you wear when you have to travel light, but you also have to look and feel good. I'm almost always on the road, and there's no time for colors. I wanted everything to fit into a tote bag so I'll able to look strong with very few wardrobe changes.