Boy In Space Is Done With Playing It Safe [Q&A]

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Photo: Sophia Leubert

In the simplest terms, Boy In Space makes pop music. But it is more than simply another mass-manufactured byproduct of an industry seeking momentary cataclysmic highs; it is infectiously emotive pop music crafted by a Swedish artist with a unique penchant for American culture. His songs unfurl out like chapters in a story we simply cannot get enough of, letting us in on a previously unseen side of himself with each addictive melody and confessional lyric.

It is an inimitable blend of music guaranteed to get stuck in your head and lyrics sure to touch your heart that has transformed this rising Swedish artist into a budding worldwide success story. Yet, the millions of streams increasing by the day are not the end goal for Boy In Space, as the difficult task of turning a stream into a diehard fan lies ahead of him. 

We sat down with Robin Lundbäck following the release of his latest single, "Caroline," and ahead of his European tour with Jeremy Zucker to get to know the man behind the Boy In Space. From his thoughts on the possibility of venturing to Mars thanks to Elon Musk, thinking of a stream as a real person, to being more daring in the year to come, we get to know Boy In Space.

Ones To Watch: So let's go back to the beginning, before Boy in Space you played in a few bands back in Sweden.

Boy In Space: Yeah, well I've always done music. I was always in different bands and with my friends and just playing around basically. Then I realized I wanted to do my own thing, so I could just focus on my own vision and not having to listen to like 500 people.

Is a solo project more fulfilling?

Yeah, it's just more fun. I like the creation process a lot, and when I'm in control of what I make, it's just more fun because no one else is like "No, I don't want to do that." It's just my vision and what I want to do.

How did you first come up with the Boy In Space moniker?

I first had ideas about being called Space Boy. It just popped into my head one day. I was like "Space Boy," that's cool. It sticks out, it's weird. I always walk that little edge of weirdness in my projects. We want to make some weird, weird stuff. We've done the safe pop moves, just showing the industry we're here and we can make great quality content, but the next move is to make it weird.

So, I found that name and I talked to my friend at the label who didn't love it at the beginning. He was playing around with it and was like "Boy In Space," and it sounds like First Aid Kit. It sounds more indie and cool and more grown-up.

So, Boy In Space, with Elon Musk making serious moves, are you excited to go to Mars?

Kind of. I kind of don't care. I'm happy that it's going to be a thing, that it will be possible. That's cool. But I think I have more important stuff to do here. Like why would you put me on Mars? There's no point. I can't do anything there. I'm just going to stand there and take up all the space and play a song. You know what I mean? You should put the smart people there.

But the first concert on Mars could be you.

Boy in Space. Shit. Do I get like a tour rocket? A tour UFO? Could be cool.

It hasn't even been two years since you started releasing music, but there has been a palpable reaction. Did you ever expect such an immediate response? 

It was always the goal, but I didn't expect it to happen, definitely not. But it was always a vision that I had. So, it doesn't surprise me, but it's still amazing. It was definitely the goal for that to happen and we've strategically made the moves to get into those positions. It's really cool, and it's fun when you do shows. You see people singing the lyrics and they actually love the music, like some people, obviously not everyone in the world…

One day.

Yeah, hopefully. It's just different. I feel like a lot of artists can get streams, but it's what you do with those streams. There are so many people who get on playlists and are like "Oh I have 30 million streams here, and I have a lot of streams there." They just kind of do the whole release music thing, but I want to be an artist artist, perform a lot and everything.

It's so hard to think of a stream as a real person compared to a living, breathing fan in the audience. 

Exactly, and sometimes when you listen to playlists you don't really care about the acts. You like the song, and you're like "I love this song, cool," and you just keep playing it, but I feel like it's two different things. Like being on tour with Alec Benjamin, I saw that people actually know the things that I do.

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Photo: Niklas Haze

You create this really great brand of pop, which must come from Swedish pop.

Yeah, definitely. I've always loved pop. It could come in different packages or versions of pop but yeah, there's nothing like a really strong pop melody. I just love it. I love it so much.

It's the melody that gravitates you towards pop in particular?

Yeah, I think the melodic language, I guess that's what you'd call it, sounds super fancy. It's something of a sweet spot for melodies that when it hits, it just makes me so happy I could die, literally. So when I write, I'll start with the melody and kind of word-poop a lot of words and "blah-ba-doo-blah," and I'll find a few things and kind of puzzle it all together.

You're currently working on an EP and the major theme is love?

Should I try to make a pop song about anything other than love?

Heartbreak? 

Yeah, but that's also love. I mean I usually do write about heartbreak, that's like my main thing.

I have to say I'm a little surprised you're still so uplifting in person. 

I think that's why I write depressing songs, because I need an output for it. I'm a very happy guy. I don't have a lot to complain about. I love what I do, I have a great girlfriend, I have a dog. I have a great life. There's not a lot to complain about.

Your hometown, it's pretty famous for potatoes?

Yeah! Good research!

So can you tell me about growing up in…

In potato town? Alingsås. It's a really small town. There's something I love about it and something I don't love about it. There's a love-hate relationship, but I feel like that's what you have with anything. Like if I lived here [Los Angeles] I'd be like "it's so cool" because of the weather, but the traffic sucks and some people are kind of fake, you know what I mean? 

There's always pros and cons, but it's cool because I'm in my own bubble there. I don't want to break that magic, I don't want to be in the midst of everyone and be another Stockholm writer. I have nothing against Stockholm writers. They're amazing, they're beautiful people, and they make really good songs, but I just like that mystique of being from a small city. People are like "What are you doing over there?" and I'm like "I just wrote this smash, boom! What ya gonna do about it?" You know what I mean? It's kind of cool.

From your songs "7UP to "California," what drew you to American pop culture?

I think just being born when I was born in '94. I was just watching MTV, Jackass, and everything, and, obviously, the movies were American-centered. So we tried to do our own thing off that.

There's this sense of nostalgia in those songs. It makes me feel young and in love every time I listen.

That's cool. I like that. There's definitely, definitely nostalgia to it and there's also some guitar riffs I want to put in because it reminds me of Blink-182 and the records my brother had. I wasn't allowed to have them, because I was too young, so I would sneak into his room and play the records, just like a movie. I would be like, "This is sick, this is so much cooler than KIDZ BOP." 

Actually, we have our own version of KIDZ BOP in Sweden where the Smurfs make versions of the songs. It's cooler because it's not kids. It's called Smurf Hits. They did "Umbrella" by Rihanna, like every big song. You should definitely watch it late at night where you're in that tired humor where you'll just laugh at anything.

What would you say you miss most from your childhood?

You know what's really cool? And I'm going to sound like such a boomer here, but the fact that I was like unapproachable at all times. That was the sickest thing ever. When I would leave my house, I would just say, "Mom, I'm going out," and I would just go off into the woods and play there for hours. It would be a sick world with my imagination. I would just be like "Mmm there's a wizard over there, and if I go too close he's going to catch me." I would just make up stupid shit that I would believe, and it would be so sick. I didn't even have a phone. I feel like I should have a week where I should just put my phone away and no one can call me…

And just go into the woods…

Literally! When I woke up, I would be excited to do stuff all the time. I would wake up with the most excited mindset of anyone in the whole world, and I would be like "Today is gonna be sick because I'm gonna go biking here!" It's so cool, I wish I could feel like that right now. I don't hate social media and stuff like that. I just think you need to have a good relationship with it. But yeah, those were the times. 

Any goals for 2020?

I don't know. Taking off the edges creatively and being braver. I think I can be safe sometimes. I want to stop being safe because there's an unsafe creative person inside of me that needs to fly a little bit.

Who are your Ones To Watch?

That's a hard question, because I don't really listen to artists, I listen to songs. There's actually a song I listen to on tour right now called "Peachy Keen" by L Devine who's pretty cool. Also started listening to BROCKHAMPTON for the first time, so I've been listening to "No Halo" nonstop. It has a lot of the outcast vibes. And then I listen to 3 Doors Down "Here Without You." Hit. That's a hit. I also listen to Japanese House quite a lot. I feel like I discover things too late.

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