The Swedish pop sensation Jonathan Johansson digs into the current refugee situation in Europe without fear of political correctness with his latest album ‘Lebensraum!’ As part of CPH:DOX, the Swedish musician with his compatriot – the acclaimed documentary filmmaker Erik Gandini – will perform at Bremen.
We had a talk with the two Swedish artists about their relationship, the current refugee situation and how art can be a powerful voice in the debate.
What sort of visual elements can people expect from the concert?
EG: There will be a lot of material from my films and they span over a wide range of topics and continents. In essence: we will serve best food from my kitchen.
We felt that you and Jonathan Johansson in each your artistic way provided insight into an important debate, and could be interesting to pair up. What was your knowledge of Jonathan before we suggested this event?
EG: To be honest I had previously heard Jonathan music without really listening properly. This collaboration made me dive into his work with sharper ears and eyes, and I discovered to my astonishment beyond the intriguing musical quality… great lyrics! Words forged into texts creating unexpected depth, beautifully constructed meanings and most of all a very Scandinavian perspective to the world that I strongly identify with. Our trouble free, comfortable Swedish life is sometimes an unbearable source of shame in front of the misery of the world.
How does it feel to have a live music show mix with your film material? What expectations do you have for the night?
EG: The whole project would have never come to reality without the effort of my long time partner Iacopo Patierno, talented film maker/editor but also uniquely skilled VJ-virtuoso. Thanks to his presence on stage behind the wheels I will feel very secure and will truly enjoy watching Jonathan perform. I truly look forward to see what his audio and our visuals will give birth to!
Do you feel that both pop and politics can go hand in hand?
EG: Absolutely. And that is precisely what makes it interesting to me.
Your latest album is very political (or at least critical of society). Do you feel that you have a responsibility as a pop musician to point out things in society that does work?
JJ: For me it is a responsibility as a human not a pop artist. The art must be free. If you want to write that Copenhagen is a marshmallow then that’s what you do.
We felt that you and Erik Gandini in your own way contributed to an important debate and that it was interesting to pair up. What did you know about him before we paired you guys?
JJ: I saw ‘Surplus’ and ‘Videocrazy’ (films by Erik Gandini) a couple of years back and immediately liked his shameless angeling. Even though you can question if they are just a bit to twisted, the statements are extremely clearcut. Like grotesque, twisted profecies. But you know, reality is beyond imagination. He awakens people, that’s the best part.
How’s you expectations for this auidovisual concert with Gandinis political documentarism as the visual backdrop? Whats your expectations for the night?
JJ: I hope one plus one makes two. We’ll see! It could be a bit too crowded. But I don’t think so, first and foremost it’s gonna be awesome!
Your last album was written and came out just befor the refugee crisis exploded in Europe. What sort of thoughts have you had the last half year? After your album came out?
JJ: The situation is very bad and it will take all of Europe to help out. Seriously, you guys in Denmark should really step up. I don’t want to be the nagging swede, but one more time – HELP US! Help these poor people.