Music interview: Nina Persson

Nina Persson
Nina Persson
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NINA Persson sounds contrite. The sometime Cardigans singer has caused a minor stir by swearing in an interview with BBC 6 Music.

“I’m shocked,” she says of her use of the F-word in an interview with Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie. “First of all, I was not aware of what I said; second, I was not aware that people cared that much.

“I don’t go on Twitter that much but I saw the comments on there. People were not offended; they were cheering me on. It’s weird.”

The 39-year-old Swede – best known for the hits Lovefool and My Favourite Game – is about to release the first solo album of her 22-year musical career.

She says it was “partly just a logistical decision” to branch out on her own. Since giving birth to her son Nils in 2010 she found she could no longer work within the confines of a band. “I had to be more structured and if you had five band members they’d be constantly bummed out. With just me, it’s much more flexible, in a way. I toyed with the idea [until] it was not scary to me any more.”

Unlike the two Americana-influenced albums that she released with her husband Nathan Larson in their band A Camp, Animal Heart is led by synthesisers and piano. The choice was perhaps inevitable, she admits, as she’s a “closet fan” of 80s pop music – “one of my first records was by Alphaville and I’m very sentimental about the Pet Shop Boys” – and the keyboard is the only instrument she can play.

While events over the last four years may have “coloured [her] thinking”, Persson insists her lyrics are “never strictly autobiographical”.

“It’s more like writing a novel,” she says. “It’s completely from you and where you are at but it’s not necessarily me. I become these people when I sing it.

“But I’ve not slept with a customs man,” she adds wryly. “Those were allegories.”

Solo dates to promote the album will be limited – at the moment she only has one British date lined up, at the Scala in London on March 5 – but she says: “I’m hoping to do festivals in the summer.”

For the first time since 2003 there’s also the prospect of new material from her old band The Cardigans. Having occasionally performed live with the group over the past two years, Persson says “it’s more likely now than it’s been for a long time” that they’ll record together again.

“It’s been fun to refine the music and hang out,” she says. “For all of us going on tour has been like going on vacation. We’ve enjoyed everything about it.”

Animal Heart is released on Lojinx Records on February 10.

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