Demand The Impossible! isn’t just the name of her fourth full length album: it’s a statement of intent; a rallying cry born from personal and political fury that happened to manifest itself in an incredible 11 track expanse; it’s a message that mixes with her incredibly intelligent and driven nature to become an inextricable, unstoppable thing.
What does demanding the impossible even mean, you might think. She did too, which is why she recently launched THE FAX PROJECT! - an interactive art project launched with Petorovsky to enable to the world to send a demand via fax, to leaders, governments and embassies around the world. Why demand the impossible? She can answer that too: “Without demands on the impossible, there would be no big changes. The greatest reforms in history have become reality through demonstrations, struggle, battles, civil disobedience, infinite bravery and patience. It’s a physical action, a demonstration in the power of free speech.”
Before we get ahead of ourselves though, Demand The Impossible! is of course an album too - one released by a Swedish-Grammy nominated artist, and packed full of compelling, wonderful, complex and catchy compositions at that. It’s part spoken word idealism, part punk protest and all things obscure pop.All these elements only make the fact that it was never officially released in the UK more puzzling. Wilson created her own record label Gold Medal Recordings in 2008 and worked with Sony to put it out in Scandinavia last year. “That’s the only place right now. Record companies are so…it’s so hard to get in contact with them. It’s like they’re so busy. What the fuck are they doing?!” Jenny exclaims as we catch up in a bric-a-brac heavy bar amidst the chaos of by:Larm Festival. “I think it’s also a big record…it’s like they’re scared to…I don’t know. I’d love to release this record because people really seem to like it, so it gets easier for them to actually get it, because now you can’t get it.”
“I started my own label because the label I was on with my first record was my friend Karin’s from The Knife. She had her own label and she said - ‘That’s the way to do it. You shouldn’t just sign a shitty contract. Do it yourself!’ So I did it that way. Then it’s usually common to make license deals with record companies, but you own your master rather than being signed as another artists when you don’t have a right to the music.” We wouldn’t expect anything else from such a fiercely independent mind.
Because of the way I work, everything takes a very long time.
I worked for one and a half years on this record, on and off, and I need my time to build my universe. It’s not just a song, it’s a piece of work - something that I really have to understand. I have to think about how I’m going to present it, both as an artist sitting here doing interviews and also as an artist on the stage. I have to understand how I will perform it. All of these things take time to figure out and for me it’s necessary to keep it in my arms for as long as possible. It’s important that nobody demands things of me, like ‘Oh, we think it would be great to have three songs like that!’...”. And with a laugh, she adds - “Fuck you!”
Her care and creative control are not the only reasons why everything she does takes time: “I was sick. I had cancer,” she says in a candid, straight-up manner, “so I’ve been through a lot. I’ll be working and then at hospitals and losing my hair and operations and surgeries. I’m good now, but it’s tricky because you don’t know if it will come back. It did for me; I had it the second time during this impossible recording.” As for the impact it had on her: “I think it made me think ‘OK, fuck everybody. I just have to do what my heart tells me.’ I started to take away things that I didn’t really like in my life. I was not afraid of anything and I think you can hear it on the record, this burning energy and some kind of anger. I wanted to create that crazy raging person who stands in the middle of everything – like a street prophet. But for me I had this very positive anger. I had so much fun when I made the record but I had to have that drive you know, because it was a question of surviving.”
“At the beginning of the process I had this idea that I really wanted to work and write about a city - about what was happening in the city and also the body as a society itself. I began to think more about ‘How am I going to connect these two?’ I think it came out pretty well, because when I started to look around at how our society looks right now - with all these bad things happening but also all the rage and uprisings - I think that’s the same as what I was going through internally. It was the same thing. So it’s both like a political observation as much as it is a very personal description of how it can be to go through something very heavy.”
Delving further into the political state of the world at large, Wilson comes at it from a very personal point of view. “I’m always coming back to persona freedom and freedom of speech, and also to just be, to take your place, be proud, be big. I think it’s so important to stand up for who I am and I hope that I will inspire both men and women. But I mean, for women it’s so easy to…not get seen, still. But we have this fantastic feminist part in Sweden - I can’t say it in English – I’m going to vote for them. I’m so proud to be a Swede because we have such a powerful tradition of women stepping up. I’m very hopeful for the future. I have this song called “The Future” so I always get the question, ‘What do you think about the future? Do you think it’s going to be good or bad?’”
I interject with the mandatory ‘so what do you think?’ question. “People have lost that spiritual way of living. They have forgotten to feed their souls. It’s like this nasty consumerism runs everything and people are so stressed about what to own, that everything becomes about buying things and earning money. That is one thing that I started to think, that ‘I don’t want to be a part of that, at all.’ There’s something very sick going on in Europe right now. It’s a disaster. The economical system has collapsed and it’s really horrible to see homeless people having to lead such harsh lives. We don’t really care for each other anymore. We have lost it. We care for money and money is the source of poverty. I think we have 30 years now that are going to be very, very tough.”
“And just look at what’s going on in Russia!” she continues. At the time of speaking, she had plans to travel to Russia the next day, so I asked how she felt about that. “It’s exciting. I mean maybe this is the last time we actually are able to go into Russia because you never know. It could be closed down. It’s unbelievable evil what’s been going on. They can do whatever because they scare the shit out of everyone. So yeah, when I think about the future I think we have a lot of dark things coming, but still we have to be hopeful all the time. I think music, poetry and art…that’s the most important you can give people. Obviously food and basic human rights, but without music - it’s like taking away people’s dreams. You have to feed your soul.”
Read more about the Fax Project by heading here. Demand The Impossible! is out now on Sony Sweden.