The hap­pen­stance in­ter­view with Swedish rap­per Yung Lean in Lon­don meant a crash course on how to sep­a­rate the celebrity from the per­son


Yung Lean rep­re­sents what the postin­ter­net youth can achieve in the most post- in­ter­net way pos­si­ble: tak­ing pieces of his­tory we want and re­fash­ion­ing them to ll our own au­then­tic­ity. The whole of the col­lec­tive pieces of his iden­tity, some of which I iden­tify with, are big­ger than the sum of his parts.

Fu­eled by teen angst, I rel­ished the thought of hang­ing out with him, just shoot­ing the shit, talking about what­ever is in our heads. To be in his pres­ence means to bask in his sta­tus as an icon. What are the chances that me, some­one liv­ing half­way across the world, would meet one of his fa­vorite artists?

The gut in­stinct every­one has when they meet their idol is to take a piece of them to keep. This is why we take pho­tos: to freeze mo­ments in time for us to re­turn to.

The beauty of a celebrity, I think, is that we want to be like them. Yung Lean’s move­ment as an artist, his whole world view that gives him di­rec­tion, eludes me. His sta­tus as a niche icon meant a tighter cir­cle for us who are will­ing to spend hours get­ting to know him.

But ul­ti­mately it was my mis­take to call Yung Lean a celebrity, to at­ten his un­der­pin­nings as a per­son to a mere act, an aes­thetic.

Meet­ing him sim­u­late­neously af rmed and de­stroyed my im­age of him. What I at­tempted to keep sus­pended in my mem­ory did not give jus­tice to who he was in the esh. Most of­ten, it never does.

Not to sound pa­tri­otic, but it’s a very Swedish way of mak­ing mu­sic. Swedes have al­ways been min­i­mal­is­tic with fur­ni­ture, brands like Acne and other cloth­ing brands. I think it came nat­u­rally. In the be­gin­ning, we were just fuck­ing around in the stu­dio and then you kind of step back and you want to do a lit­tle less pos­si­ble but sound­ing as good as pos­si­ble. I’m fo­cus­ing more on the voice, I guess. Crit­ics ould com­pare it to oy Di­vi­sion o do you eel about this

Great. One of the best com­pli­ments you can get. I’ve al­ways felt that we had a lit­tle bit of a con­nec­tion to Ian Cur­tis and the whole Fac­tory Records thing. I was a huge Happy Mon­days fan. I saw New Or­der live and I’ve al­ways felt a con­nec­tion with that. It’s the vibe and maybe the whole sad­boys and ev­ery­thing, we’re kind of do­ing what was never re­ally ac­cepted in Stock­holm and every­one was ei­ther mak­ing pop mu­sic or tra­di­tional mu­sic. Who are your style ash­ion in uencers Kenny Pow­ers, Kylie Minogue, Gwen Ste­fani, Juicy J. When you re ork­ing on mu­sic or clothes ho do you kno hen your vi­sion is com­plete

Never. You don’t know. You al­ways want to work a bit more on a song or with what­ever art you’re do­ing. You al­ways want to work on it more but some­times you’ve got to step back and think, “This is enough.” Some­times your in­tu­ition about the song on the rst take could be the best.

Yung Lean per­formed for a small crowd dur­ing the pri­vate #Rat­edOneS­tar party in Lon­don Your last al­bum Stranger” is more min­i­mal­is­tic com­pared to your pre­vi­ous mu­sic

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