Paula Jiven Explores Musicality in The Duality in Me
By Tanishq Desai
Swedish rising pop sensation, Paula Jiven is kicking the doors down with her radiant creation of original pop music on her debut EP, The Duality In Me, out May 6th. Curating a sonic world that is truly her own, Paula steps out of one phase of life and into another by discovering her sound and sharing the creation process behind songs that she’s been writing since she was 13. Now, the singer/songwriter is ready to reveal her multidimensional musicality to the world with her dreamy pop synth moment.
At the age of 13, you performed at Sweden’s Got Talent and got a Golden Buzzer from the judges. What was the build-up like from the moment a young Paula Jiven picked up a violin on SGT and getting a golden buzzer?
“So yes I started playing violin at the age of three, and at that point, it was more so just something for fun. I had so much fun practicing how to play, and ooh I got better, but for many years it was just something that I did like how other kids played football. And I guess at some point it started becoming more of a form of an expression. I started singing as an art form, and by the time I was on Sweden’s Got Talent, I was writing my own songs but I was not ready to release them in any way.”
“It was so scary, even playing them for my own family. But I did that show because I wanted to get into the music industry and I wanted to be able to build some contacts. Get my name out there and that’s kind of what happened with that golden buzzer. I honestly blacked out when that happened, of course, I was so happy and excited like yeah we finally did that. But usually, on these artistic journeys, it’s not all about the moments, it’s about the build-up to it. When it happened I was just like okay good, that worked out, next step and I think we need to see more of that in the creative industry like I did that. ”
Since then you have been very careful in selecting the writers and producers you work with on your music, is there a specific process that you apply when you pick collaborators for your projects?
“Basically, I’ll do sessions. And these sessions are put together by the A&R team or my publisher at the label or I’ll meet somebody and they’ll be like oh you need to meet these people. And I’m down to write with anybody. I think it’s so fun to get into the room and see how this is going to work out? How are we going to work together? What’s our connection? And yeah we write a song then! A lot of the time, the producer in the session will end up producing the song but sometimes it’s also about finding the right person for the track and that can take a moment. That was the case with my first song, ‘What Are You Hungry For?’ Two of my friends produced that one and they took care of me when I was figuring out how I wanted to sound.”
Do you have any advice for teenagers trying to get into the music industry?
“I think if you want to get into the music industry, you have to work hard but there will always be a way in. Whether it’s studying at a school that a lot of songwriters go to or maybe you find an internship somewhere, maybe you’re making coffee at a studio for two years — there are many ways to get in. But the important thing is to think through why you want to be in the music industry and what you want to do because the idea sometimes comes from the perception of it being very glamorous, fun and cool. That’s not everyday life. If you want to be a songwriter, you can pitch your stuff, keep sending those emails! At some point, someone will listen.”
How can artists your age utilize social media the way you did getting your music out there?
“Absolutely. Social Media has been a big part of me growing as an artist but it’s also you own your platforms. I think that’s important as well. The artist owns their platform and I can be in touch with people that follow me and my music. But if you want to use social media as a marketing platform, one lesson that was very important for me to understand was that if I want to be an artist and want people to listen to my music, there’s a conflict of interest there. I can’t post things my friends are posting like pictures of parties and my life. You kind of have to give all that up and let your platform be your marketing. It can be a bit hard at the beginning and “cringey” but when it starts to pay off you realize oh yeah, of course.”
You’ve created this original pop sound for yourself on your debut EP, The Duality In Me. Tell us who was your inspiration when you were putting this EP together and your process behind naming it.
“I wouldn’t say I’m inspired by other artists sonically. The songs I write shape their own sounds and I think that’s a part of why the EP is called what it is. At first as an artist, I wrote songs like ‘What Are You Hungry For?’ that was mainly acoustic with some electronic influences but then I wrote other songs and I was like oh this is also me. I like to think that I don’t compromise the song to fit me.”
“The song is a statement within itself and I want to carry that but I don’t want to adjust it so it fits my brand. I think that’s been a big part of the branding process as well because I want to express that, I want this EP to be that. I am many things and there are many things that are going to come. These songs are the things that I am right now and I will always carry them with me. But I will always evolve as well.”
“What Are You Hungry For” was your first release as an artist and this song is the exact question anybody your age would have for themselves. What did you learn from writing this song?
“The biggest lesson I learned from writing that song was that you can affect people with your music. You can write things that mean things, not only to yourself but to others. Because that was a song I wrote to a close friend who was very much struggling with herself and an eating disorder. But writing that song to her and opening that conversation by talking, I saw how she lived with that song. It made me understand that there’s truly power in music and that is something I wanted to take care of.”
Your album art for “What Are You Hungry For” is so bold and captivating. Where do you draw your inspiration for your cover art from?
“I’ve been working a lot with this amazing visual artist named Viktor H. and he’s also Swedish! I am not going to take credit for that because he’s the one that did it. But yeah, I like having a visual connection with the song while I’m in a session, and as I’m writing the lyrics in a Google Doc I will be copying and pasting pictures from Pinterest to the document that I feel are connected to the song. So I always have a visual idea of the track as I’m writing it. And I think those usually grow out to be show concepts but being completely honest I have lots of help with visuals.”
“I’m an audio artist and I think visual artists are so cool and yes I’m part of the creative process as well. But the same way I’ve perfected the craft of songwriting there are people who have perfected the craft of visual art and of course, I’m going to work with them.”
“Say That” radiates this Rager Teenager Anthem vibe. What was the writing process like for you on that song?
“It was so easy, I was in one of my first sessions with my now friend Jason Suwito and we were in his home studio just working. It was so easy because he came up with something and I was like ooh I have a verse! He came up with something else and I was like ooh I have the chorus! But he came up with the intro to that song on the guitar and I said we should find a fun sound. He said yes that should be it! It has to be a vocal thing. And then we layered all the vocals, there were 14 voices singing that. But otherwise, it was such a fun process writing overall.”
Who are some of your dream collaborations?
“Of course I do! I’d love to do something with Labrinth, I think his mind is amazing and I’ve been a huge fan of his for many years. He’s also a pretty collaborative person and I love him. Another huge inspiration of mine is Charli XCX and I’d love to write something with her and see where that goes cause she’s such an amazing songwriter. But I also love how she’s making raw art out of just being an artist with her latest album being so much pitch stuff because she would’ve never done that three years ago and I love that she did that. So of course I want to work with her, she is amazing.”
The music video for “Breaking Up With a Friend” is quite personal and brings the audience into your childhood. What was opening up on that level like for you?
“I was very scared to put out that music video honestly because it’s actually the first video I ever did. But I’m really happy with all the positive response I got for that music video.”
You said that with your latest single, “Breaking Up With a Friend,” (along with your friendship) your childhood came to an end as well. What was the creation process like bringing those two concepts together in this song?
“That was one of the most painful writing processes I’ve had. That was like three days of writing and I was at my friend’s studio in my hometown Gothenburg. The first thing we had was the verse and then the chorus took so long to figure out which was also so hard to sing. Then somebody at A&R told me maybe you should try something new here. So I went back into the studio and we came up with something completely new.
“I was like what if we did a bridge in Swedish, and oh what if we slowed down the tempo which was so fun because I’ve never sung in Swedish. But it was very tough for me because I had a bad habit back then and every time the take didn’t go well, I would scream at the end of it. So the producer collected all those takes with screams and layered them up and I was like that’s definitely going in the song.”
Do you see yourself entering new genres? What’s next for Paula Jiven?
“I like to believe in the power of pop — I like how accessible it is. I will always return to pop because it’s the way of life. It’s the way of writing, it’s the way of looking at music. But I’m definitely sounding like many things and I love that! Although I can’t tell you exactly what’s coming next, what I will tell you is that this EP is my first generation of writing – it’s my first era. It’s a lot about me and the closest people to me and our experiences together.”
“I think you need to understand how to write a song by taking an issue that you have in yourself and writing about that by picking it apart to be able to take on other issues later. And that’s definitely led me to write more politically. I’m writing more about the society that I live in and that’s important to me — to create something that I’m a part of. I wish a tour was next but it’s kind of hard to go touring with just an EP but I just announced my release party in Stockholm so I’m really excited about that. No plans to come to America just yet but I hope I can do that very soon!”