We’re only a few hours away from the fourth and final semifinal of Melodifestivalen 2016. It’s been a little while since we at escXtra had a catch-up with one of Sweden’s most experienced Melodifestivalen participants but it was a good chat, that’s for sure. This will be Linda Bengtzing’s sixth participation, previously having made the final on four occasions and finishing fifth in her semifinal, on the only occasion when she did not proceed forward to the Final, with “Ta mig” in 2014.

X: Hello again Linda! It’s lovely to talk to you again, how has it been since we met in London just before you performed at Eurofest to the adoring crowd?

LB: Well, I’ve had two years of very hard work – almost fundraising – I haven’t shown myself too much, you know on the tv or in the papers, but I’ve been working on my branding and what I do and what I should do and why I do Melodifestivalen as well, so I can continue work and have new songs and clothes! I love to work and I love singing on stage.

X: Even though you have the hard work that comes before it, you still have that absolute passion to get up there?

LB: Absolutely, oh yeah! I love the simplicity of a gig.

X: So in terms of that, when we discussed “Ta mig” you said it was more you than some of your previous entries had been. What about “Killer Girl”, given you’ve done this hard work to get there, what is this to you?

LB: You know, I do “Ta mig” still at all my gigs and it’s so difficult to choose between songs, or say that one is better or worse, because this song, “Killer Girl”, is more like the old ones but in a modern way and I’ve been writing the lyrics so it seems also so much like me but in an old-fashioned way, well… I mean old AND fashioned way and it wasn’t hard because the songwriters called me and asked “can we write a song for you” and I said “oh yes please, I want it to be like “E det fel på mej” but a 2016 version, thank you, bye” [laughs]

X: And they’ve delivered?

LB: They have delivered a hit and it was immediately like “oh, I love it but I want to do the lyrics”.

X: You see, that’s just made me more excited than I was on Monday morning [to see you announced as a competitor].

LB: Oh yeah, just because I KNOW that you’re gonna love it. I know it because the lyrics are about what a woman wants and this woman, she doesn’t care if it’s a he or a she or a chicken! She knows what she wants and it tells a little story. It’s very brave and almost… female politics strong!

X: So, if I was excited Monday morning and if I was excited when you said it’s like “E det fel på mej”, I’m even more excited now that you’ve discussed the lyrical content because it sounds really current. I mean, there’s a lot of strong female artists around and you’d be one of them.

LB: Yeah, yeah!

X: You see people like Beyoncé and Rihanna who get so much praise for their female driven content that I think that is the right route to go and yes, it brings something different but it’s so current that actually it makes perfect sense.

LB: Yeah!

X: So, we all read Aftonbladet in the sense that we knew you were going to be in Melodifestivalen… but can I ask you about the rumour that they published about your “other entry”, I don’t know if you know this, but they published a story saying that you had a Robin Stjernberg written entry so at any point was he in contact with you about writing a song?

LB: Yes! We sent in a song together to Melodifestivalen.

X: Aaah, so that’s where they got the story from, I just wanted that confirmed to see if you had actually spoken to him.

LB: That was funny though because then we knew that it was not our team [that had told AB the news], that’s a positive so that was nice! We knew all the time that the jury had chosen my song and we’d only been talking about “Killer Girl” all of the time.

X: Killer Girl is an English title but a Swedish language song… you teased me, you teased me really hard.

LB: [laughs]

X: I’ve been waiting for this attempt at Melodifestivalen in English. Some day, it’s going to come, even if it’s in 20 years time and you do a Carola and come back, I’m certain it’s going to be in English… but I will wait, I’ll wait forever if necessary!

LB: [laughs] I love it

X: But you and I also talked about a keychange with “Ta mig” so spill the beans, yes or no keychange?

LB: There won’t be a keychange in “Killer Girl” but you know it’s one of the things I miss but I realise that a lot of other things make it a typical schlager song, there’s so much schlager. I think it’s cool that there isn’t a keychange because it’s quite hard to sing so I’m happy about it really. You will be SO happy; I’d like to tell you everything but I can’t!

X: That’s alright, don’t worry!

LB: In Sweden, it is known but perhaps not internationally… both my song and Anna Book’s song are written by two of Sweden’s most famous writers. They are deeply involved in the culture of Sweden. [Anna’s is Camilla Läckberg] Mine is a former war correspondent, an educated journalist, now he writes books and he’s so fucking educated, I can’t stand it! Everything! He writes books about this psychic and when he wrote his lyrics and sent them to me it was like prosa (prose) – a poem! It just didn’t work, so he went back and internally became the psychic… so ‘she’ [the character] wrote the lyrics and sent them to me and it was only a joke but I loved them, I took those lyrics and made a few changes myself, putting things together and making it less about blood and murder but some of it is left and it’s so fucking good.

X: It’s so nice to hear you just speak so positively about it and the process because “Ta mig” was so different that I was a little bit concerned that “Killer Girl” would again be so different but it’s great to hear the positivity.

LB: “Ta mig” was an old song that we didn’t know what to do with so we just sent it in but this is like an arrow, pointed at the target of Melodifestivalen.

X: Yeah it was deliberate that you always had Melodifestivalen in mind.

LB: Exactly.

X: We talked about a tough semifinal last time but goodness gracious, they don’t want to give you an easy ride in the contest! This would be another tough group to come through wouldn’t it?

LB: Oh yes, it’s a fucking deltävling på anabola.

X: In English, we’d say “Group of Death”.

LB: Ugh, group of death, yeah.

X: I could see anyone making it through, I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as your last entry.

LB: I think it depends on the songs.

X: It’s just one of those things that because it’s such a mixed semifinal of genres again for you that it gave me a sense of déjà vu and also reminded me somewhat of 2008.

LB: It’s like there’s something for everyone and it just depends how good they are on the night.

X: What was your reaction when you saw the six names that you were with?

LB: Oh my God, I was like “okay, let’s have fucking fun and don’t give a shit about the results or Andra chansen” because last time, I was so involved with my song and I just want to have fun because I have a good song

X: I think there’s less pressure on everyone this year because it’s such a strong field throughout with so many former finalists that there’s no shame in the results and it’s the toughest year since 2008, in my opinion. I have waited so long for a year like this and it is just a case of having fun and enjoying your chance.

X: So, for all your fans out there like me I have to ask this… do we get an album this time?

LB: Yes, a small one I hope. An EP! I’m so proud and I’m so happy that I have my own genre. I’d also like to have the song I did with Robin Stjernberg to have a second single. I love my songs, my genre and Melodifestivalen. I can’t wait. I just love it; I love every day.

X: With the app-vote returning this year, how are you hoping to make the younger demographic vote for you like they did with JTR and Samir & VIktor last year?

LB: The record company and people around me ask all the time “how are we going to get more Instagram followers, how are we going to get the numbers up?” and I’m like you know, the artists that are younger with 300,000 followers, they were born into it. I found it outward for me two years ago even and I’m 41. I cannot speak that language and I cannot change that because if I pretend to be and talk like I’m something cool, they will laugh. I can only be who I am and my viewers on Instagram and other social media, we have to love them as few or as many as they are because they are true. They are loyal and true and if my song is good, if I make a good song, then they will vote. Look at Hasse Andersson. It doesn’t matter what you do or if you turn yourself inside out, or post about this specific mascara – these kinds of things that young people like – I cannot be like that, I have to trust in my song and in what I am.

X: I suppose that’s the other side of it, particularly looking at someone like Zara Larsson who tweets like there’s no tomorrow in both English and Swedish because she’s born into it. It’s no different now tweeting whilst she’s big to when she was tweeting before she was massively famous. So, yeah I understand exactly what you’re saying.

LB: Yeah.

X: Do you fancy your chances coming through Andra chansen now that half the entrants there qualify to a 12 song final and you only have to beat one act rather than two?

LB: That’s good! I love Andra chansen, because it’s so good to be on TV and have a chance to do that number again and again. Some songs need a second or a third listen.

X: Now finally, some real-world questions… Have you ever been to Gävle before or is this the first time you’ll be going?

LB: Yes! Gävle is one of the best schlager loving cities in Sweden. Now, every time I go there it’s full of people. I’ve been there a lot and it’s very close to Stockholm. I love the city; it’ll be no problem.

X: What has life been like with two little ones running around, do you feel you still get some “me time” or is Melodifestivalen and your music your “me time”?

LB: It’s a very nice “me time” because I can’t bring them because then I can’t work. Everybody around me wants me to feel good so I get the best bed, time booked up for massages and I can eat whatever I want and people will bring it to me. It’s like being a princess for a week or more but I miss them so much. I’m currently listening to Marie Fredriksson’s book (Roxette) and I just go round my house crying because it’s so true and strange and so much like me. You know, when she gets her husband and her kids and everything starts to get real and suddenly her music career isn’t so important but it’s so much more fun. It’s like you can’t be without it but when you have something else in your life that’s so much bigger and so much more important then other stuff gets so much more fun. I love my kids so much, I can’t say it enough, I’ve been away a lot so my little one is only “daddy, daddy” and now we’ve had a few nights forcing him to be with me that he’s back with me. Tonight, me and my boyfriend, we have one day every week where we go out together, one day, since the first kid, if the kids or sick or we’re working then we can’t okay, but every week we have a babysitter and we are away like from 5pm to 10pm for a movie, restaurant, IKEA, sitting and talking. I think everyone’s making a big mistake because my friends say “but when I’m not working, I really want to be with my kids”. Well, of course you do but you should also want to be with your partner because sometimes you have to talk and spend time.

X: It can be nothing but you have to spend the time to enjoy your relationship, even though you have Nisse and Vera.

LB: I think that’s the answer as to why we’re still together! Having two small kids and the demands of jobs, sometimes it’s rough and I think if we didn’t have this night each week then it would be a lot tougher. It’s very important to just take the time and talk without someone on the side screaming “mum mum mama, wah wah wah!”

X: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us given you’re a busy woman and lycka till for the fourth semifinal!

LB: Thank you very much!

The fourth semifinal of Melodifestivalen takes place tonight at 20:00 CET. With thanks to Joakim Stenhammar for assisting in the organisation of the interview.

Technical Lead: I am a huge pop music fan and I love Rihanna, Years & Years, Sia, Zara Larsson and Sam Smith. However, more importantly, I love Eurovision. Melodifestivalen is my favourite National Final and if things look out of place on the website, it's most definitely my fault.

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One Comment

  1. […] invited to compete. Why, if Björkman does not believe in schlager, were they given a free pass? In the interview we did with Linda, she confirmed that she also sent another song to SVT – a duet. Why, if Killer Girl had, […]

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