Elsa Birgitta Bekman added a romantic flavor to our Chordify x IDK Studio at Eurosonic. With roots in Sweden and France, her songs take you on a journey through nature, love and desires that sway like waltzes. We spoke with Bekman just after her gig.
Hi Elsa, how are you?
Very good, it was really nice playing just now. Did you like it?
Yes, it was very beautiful. How much do you need to rehearse to stay on this level?
That’s hard to say. I play alone a lot, and I’m pretty spontaneous about that. So you could say, I rehearse a lot. On the other hand, when we have shows coming up, I get together with my guitarist and violist to rehearse.
Do you follow certain routines when you play alone?
I mostly start out just goofing around, just playing what I feel like. At a certain point I’ll focus on parts of a song that I find challenging. I’ll loop those until I can play and sing them effortlessly.
Have you ever had a moment where you heard something, tried to copy it, and came up with a melody that you didn’t count on?
No, certainly not. In most cases, I’ll be doing something else and then I get inspired by the situation. Then I suddenly hear a song pop up in my head and then that’s what I’ll work with. It’s like a soundtrack for that moment.
Do you have favorite chords or keys that you like to fall back on when you’re writing?
Well, coincidently, my violist told me yesterday that I favor black keys. Apparently, that’s pretty difficult on the violin. And I really love sus2 and sus4 chords, and waltzes of course. That’s what I fall back on a lot.
Interesting, why those types of chords?
These chords sound very nostalgic to me. A lot of warmth. We used to have Irish music on all time at home. I think these chords show up a lot in that type of music. These heavenly sounds and harmonies, I find those inspiring.
Can you recommend two of your songs to our readers, to play along?
I’ve only got four singles out at the moment. Let me think, what are nice songs that you could play along? [thinks for a moment]
One will do as well.
“Waiting for You” is a nice one to play along. [after a short break] “Desire Lines” too by the way! That one has more swing and an interesting chord progression.
You have roots in Sweden and France. Is that apparent in your music?
For sure. I have a song in French. The waltzes are very French as well. I find French film music very inspiring and beautiful. As far as my Swedish roots are concerned, people tell me that they can hear that in my music too.
Maybe it’s the euphoric and epic feeling in my songs. That’s inspired on Swedish nature, which I grew up in. But it’s also the longing for those idyllic places in France and Sweden that I get when I’m writing.
You’ve recorded a music video at one of those idyllic places, for “Waiting for You.”
Yes, in my music videos I can record my dreams. The stuff that I long for in my head.
Was it cold when you were recording out there?
Oh yes! It was minus 30 degrees Celsius on the coldest day. The good thing about that is, that you really feel like you’re creating something beautiful when you’re working under those extreme conditions. It’s a really nice feeling. But it was very cold.
Do you have any tips for beginning musicians?
If you’re not fully committed, it will not work. That goes for everything by the way. Let me use hitting a high note as a metaphor. Imagine, you’re singing. And a part is coming up where you have to hit a high note; if you hesitate you will not get it.
If you don’t hesitate, more often than not, you’ll succeed. Maybe you will not get it the first or the second time, but at a certain point you’ll get it. So don’t be afraid and just go for it!