Skott’s Love Is Toxic Like “Kodak & Codeine”

Photo: Courtesy of Peter St. James.
Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's home for music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
Like many of her peers in the industry, Skott's love for music stems from fond memories accented by the sounds that she grew up with as a child. Born and raised in a small village in Sweden where most of its residents were musically inclined, the singer (real name Pauline Skött) was taught to play the violin. Her casual interest in creating beautiful sounds and melodies, however, evolved into a passionate pursuit of a career in composing after hearing the gorgeous, fairytale-like soundtrack of a classic video game as a teenager.
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Years later, Skott still carries those sounds with her, as evidenced in her dreamy new single "Kodak & Codeine." The song is a cautionary tale about a toxic relationship that feels impossible to break away from, its haunting lyrics perfectly suiting the eerie instrumental they accompany. In the music video, which makes its world premiere right here on Refinery29, a tattooed Skott makes a sad promise. "You call on me, I'll give you anything," she swears solemnly in the chorus. "Kodak and codeine."
The Swedish singer-songwriter spoke to Refinery29 about her roots as a musician and the surprising technique she employs to help her be confident about her work.
Refinery29: You grew up around music, having been surrounded with people who played the violin and the fiddle in Vikarbyn, Sweden. But it was a video game that really turned you on to composing and making your own music — what was it like discovering that sound for the first time?
Skott: "I didn't grow up with video games, but when I was 12 or 13, I moved to a different school in town where I made some friends who were gamers. They showed me this world that blew my mind. With music, you can create pictures and emotions. You have to tell a story with music, and I found that really cool."
Do you remember the first video game that made you want to try your hand at composing?
"I think it was The Legend of Zelda — that's still like an all-time favorite. I also loved the Final Fantasy soundtracks. There's so much folk music in fantasy games, especially the ones that are based outdoors and take players around these different landscapes. That's probably why I recognized and connected to it; it was similar to the sounds I grew up with. I still dream about one day creating the soundtrack for a video game."
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Your current sound seems to blend both sounds, especially in "Kodak & Codeine."
"Absolutely. I really love the dreamy but epic sounds. Even with the minimalistic, more stripped-down songs, you can still find it somewhere in the production."
What inspired the title for the song?
"In relationships, you have the Kodak moments — the good parts and memories that you want to keep with you. But you also have the codeine, the painkiller that you get addicted to, that keeps you in it. The song is about a toxic and co-dependent relationship that isn't the best. And while there are parts that are magical about it, you're realizing that it isn't the healthiest situation to be in. It's like you're trapped — the tower in the video represents that. I wanted to play on the the fairytale about a princess being locked in a tower but in a different way."
Tell me about the intricately-designed face paint you wore in the video — where did the idea to do it come from?
"I have to be honest: I think it started with me being a bit scared of the camera. In the beginning, I wanted to share my music with the world, but I didn't understand why I had to take pictures of my face. I wanted to be natural about showing my face, but I also needed to be creative about it somehow so I could feel comfortable and confident — I've never felt that way in a makeup or a cute outfit. So it's a way for me to feel inspired and deal with that part of being an artist."
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