Sweden's Jens Lekman emerged from relative obscurity to quickly establish himself as the darling of the global indie pop set, winning widespread acclaim from fans and critics for his uncommonly witty and well-crafted pop songs. Born February 6, 1981, in Gothenburg, Sweden, Lekman exhibited little interest in music as a child, but at 14 was recruited to play bass in a friend's cover band. Within weeks he was writing his own original material, quickly accumulating hundreds of songs. Assuming the alias Rocky Dennis (borrowed from the disfigured protagonist of the 1985 American film Mask), Lekman recorded and released a series of limited-edition CD-Rs beginning with 2001's The Budgie-Album. A year later, he compiled a collection of highlights and mailed the sole copy to the U.S. indie label Secretly Canadian, but remained largely unknown until the 2003 EP Maple Leaves became something of a cause célèbre on Internet file-sharing services. The Swedish indie Service Records reissued Maple Leaves later that same year, and after abandoning his pseudonym once and for all with 2004's Rocky Dennis in Heaven EP, Lekman issued his acclaimed full-length debut, When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog, distributed in the U.S. via Secretly Canadian. The LP generated the Swedish Top Ten hit "You Are the Light," and in 2005 Lekman traveled the globe, issuing several tour-only EPs and collecting his previous singles, B-sides, and compilation tracks as Oh You're So Silent Jens. Following this flurry of activity, he announced on his website plans for an extended hiatus from performing, scrapping a planned sophomore LP and reportedly accepting a position at a local bingo parlor; Lekman nevertheless quit after just two days on the job and fully rededicated himself to his musical pursuits. This dedication paid off with the release of his best work to date, 2007's stunning album Night Falls Over Kortadela. After touring for a year, moving to Melbourne, Australia for a couple years (where he worked on music and DJ'd a bit), then returning to Sweden, Lekman returned in the fall of 2011 with the five-song EP An Argument with Myself.
Taken By Trees
Taken by Trees, the brainchild of renaissance woman Victoria Bergsman, has signed to Secretly Canadian. The former front woman of the Concretes (who you may also recognize from the Peter, Bjorn & John hit "Young Folks") has been hard at work on a new album influenced by a trip to Hawaii and falling in love. Bergsman says of the signing, "I am really excited to be working with Secretly Canadian. I admire how thoughtful they are when it comes to who they sign. I imagine that's due to how much dedication and hard work it takes to deliver something truly special."
Bergsman's distinctive voice has served her well, with two critically acclaimed albums under her belt (2007's Open Field and 2009's East of Eden) as well as collaborations with the aforementioned Peter, Bjorn & John, and indie pop bedroom dreamers, Korallreven and Dan Lissvik of nu-Baleric dance kings Studio. For the Swedish chanteuse, each album has been a boundary-testing exploration - Open Field was recorded in just six days and East of Eden grew out of a trip to Pakistan. Victoria's creativity and sense of wonder makes Taken by Trees a singular project that is served well by her playful pop sensibilities.
Taken by Trees will perform in Los Angeles for the first time in almost 2 years on Sunday, March 11. The show will serve as a warm-up gig, trying out brand new songs from the forthcoming album before heading to Austin for SXSW. This will be Taken by Trees' first performance at the SXSW Festival. More details on the new album will follow soon.