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Reflecting on the happiest moments of a relationship can often feel like looking at a beautiful, kaleidoscopic sunset — rosy and awe-inspiring as you marvel at it, but ephemeral nonetheless. Swedish singer-songwriter LÉON’s soaring new single, “Chasing A Feeling,” captures this idea both figuratively and literally in its accompanying visual, premiering exclusively on Refinery29.
The 27-year-old artist, whose real name is Lotta Lindgren, wrote the song, as well as her forthcoming second full-length album Apart, fresh out of a long-term relationship. She concedes that some of the most difficult relationships to let go of are ones that have gone stale. “How do you know when things aren't bad but they aren't good either?” LÉON muses to Refinery29 over the phone from Stockholm. “And you're just in this very weird head space where you don't have anything to complain about. But it's just something that you can't put your finger on.”
Despite not being able to quite form it into prose, LÉON does what she does best — she captures it in vivid sonic imagery and vulnerable lyrics. There are even moments in listening to “Chasing A Feeling” in which you expect some grand, cathartic drop, but instead, LÉON’s rich alto continues to shimmer and the instrumentals further unfold and expand. It makes you realize that in all things — love and music, included — we can get too comfortable and used to not having our expectations challenged, which can make us lose out on life’s delicious moments of dynamism and spontaneity. The visual sees LÉON enjoying the company of her friends in the picturesque Danish countryside, but throughout, her mind wanders to the warm scenes of a relationship she can’t seem to shake.
This single follows the release of three other tracks released earlier this year, “Who You Lovin,” “In A Stranger’s Arms,” “And It Breaks My Heart,” which will all be included in Apart, releasing October 30. LÉON admits that it’s a strange and unprecedented time to put out new music, especially having had so much momentum from touring in 2019. But in this time, when it’s so easy to sit alone with your most painful thoughts and bottle them up, she’s been more inspired and more determined than ever to use music as a therapeutic means of connection.
Refinery29: What were you thinking while writing “Chasing A Feeling”?
LÉON: “The song came about just a couple of weeks before my relationship ended, but I was in it at the time. This is actually the only song I’ve written with a couple of girls together, which was so nice. We were talking about….How do you know when you should leave a relationship? We talked a lot about that feeling that I was having that wouldn't really leave me, and we ended up writing the song. And they all could relate. They all were in relationships or had just gotten out of relationships.”
Do your songs often come organically in that way, or do you set out to write something in the studio?
“I have such a hard time writing with other artists, or other songwriters and producers sometimes that don't really know me, because I'll go into the studio and I never feel like we have to come out with a song. People get disappointed or stressed out because I'm so — maybe too — relaxed. I don't mind if we just sit and talk for hours and then we'll just go home, and maybe we'll get it another time. It was kind of like this with this song, and then it happened.”
Is it difficult to be so personal with your songs?
“It can be kind of awkward talking about your relationship. It's kind of like having a feeling of being hungover the day after. You're like, oh shit, I said too much. But for some reason last year I had no filter and I didn't want to sugarcoat anything. I was like, maybe some people will find these songs depressing, but then they don't have to listen to it, I guess [Laughs]. But I just had to get it all out.”
How did you come up with the concept for the music video?
“I worked with the same Danish director [for previous visual “And It Breaks My Heart”] on this video. I wanted it to feel like a short glimpse of a life… I wanted it to capture that feeling when you’re with your friends and trying to focus on them and other things, but there is this distant memory that always keeps coming back to you. I went alone to all these beautiful areas where we shot, two hours outside of Copenhagen. It looks like CGI.”
Independence and ownership over musicians’ own work has been at the center of more public discourse, but early on in your career, you set out to create your own label. What does it mean to you to have so much control over your own work?
“I've never been so creative. I remember when I was a teenager and I would sit and write all the time. I was always excited about staying working on my music, because I wrote it for myself. Then I slightly started to feel a shift when I started putting out music for the first time, and you had a label, and it was such an incredible feeling to be represented, but that same creative feeling kind of “went down” for me. I felt like I had nothing to say suddenly, and it was the most terrifying feeling. I felt frustrated because I didn't feel like I was being my — god, it sounds so corny — creative self.”
Do you recommend going independent to other musicians who ask you about it?
“Yes. But every situation is different. Some people have such a strong relationship with their label and they feel really, really happy about it. Every artist has their different perspective and different journey.”
What's been inspiring you these days?
“When I got back from tour this last December, I kind of hit a wall. I was just so tired and I was going through this breakup and I had not sorted through all of that. I've been just really taking the time to reflect, and be in the studio with one of my best friends writing and really processing what I’ve been going through these past eight years or so. I’ve been feeling inspired because I haven't felt rushed to write. That's all we can do, I guess, is just keep writing."
What is some advice that you would give people who find themselves at that same moment in their relationship that you describe in “Chasing A Feeling”?
“I think if you look back in the past year or years or months, if things had been more bad than good, and if you're not happy and you're turning into this person that you don't really like anymore in the relationship, if you start disliking yourself and your own behavior, then you need to probably check on yourself and see if this is something you should stay in. I see people hold on to things because we are so afraid to be alone. But it’s tricky.
I also think you should think about whether you feel happy at the moment — and you should trust whatever that gut feeling is. A lot of people are like, ‘I'm happy now, but what if it ends next year?’ But, people always have these nightmare scenarios and don’t live in the present and trust the present.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.