Interview: Summer Heart

Summer Heart - Photo by Jonas Magnusson

Summer Heart - Photo by Jonas Magnusson

David Alexander doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype of a typical Swede. Though he speaks with a singsongy lilt and harbors a strong pop music sensibility, he also readily admits that he just doesn’t like ABBA or Ace of Base. And while visions of the neighbours up north conjure thoughts of harsh winters with little sunlight and far too much snow, even the very name of Alexander’s solo project, Summer Heart, is quick to reject that notion.

The beginnings of Summer Heart date back a couple years, to when it was a project with no real vision. Because Alexander was already involved in other bands, he never had any intentions of making it a solo venture.

“I just stayed at my father’s house, and he has like all these synthesizers and recording gear. And I was just, like, sitting down and playing some stuff,” Alexander recalled, thinking back to 2009. “It turned out quite good, but I didn’t use it for anything.”

However, in 2010, friends of his from Germany heard the songs and posted them online, which quickly gained a following for Alexander, via gratuitous circulation in the blog scene, as well as through Hype Machine.

Although he initially referred to himself as Sommarhjärta, which is Swedish for his current moniker, Alexander decided to rename himself with the English equivalent.

“I thought it would never be heard by anyone,” he said, citing his reasons for first using a Swedish name. “But then I had to change it. It was too hard for English speakers to say and to write, with the Ä. You have to search for it on Google and then copy and paste.”

Since his solo career has taken off, Alexander still remains involved in other bands, just not as much.

“Now, all of a sudden, this is my main focus,” he said over a cup of coffee in Berlin on a late November afternoon, his first time playing in the city. “It was really strange because…of course I like it. I’m proud of what I made…but it was never meant [as anything that anyone would] hear except for me. It was just something I did for fun, that’s all.”

Just last month Alexander released the “My Forever Smile EP,” including four tracks of dreamy chillwave with bright, warm vocals layered over loops of meandering synths and percussive embellishments.

And while it may be surprising to some listeners, Alexander shared that he spends far more time writing the lyrics than he does writing the actual music.

“When I’m writing a song, the lyrics take most of the time, because I have to like, really try to do my best to use the language as I want,” he said. “I would be able to write better in Swedish but I wouldn’t like it as much.”

As for the reasons he doesn’t write in Swedish, he said he can’t specify the exact reason why, but he just prefers English lyrics alongside his songs.

“I think it’s more about me. I’m not interested in Swedish lyrics for some reason. I don’t know. I’ve never been. Maybe I was English in my life before this life,” he supposed with a laugh.

Currently, the work-life balance is something that Alexander is satisfied with. Because he has no visions of grandeur, he is comfortable working once or twice a month and dedicating the rest of the month to music, something he hopes to maintain in the future.

“I think the problem is that a lot of people think like ‘OK, you play music now, what are you going to do when you grow up?'” he said. “[But] it’s not like when I am turning 30 I will stop making music and [have] a ‘real’ job. It wouldn’t work.”

As for now, Summer Heart is busy writing new music and playing various one-off shows in preparation for a European tour in April. That, and Alexander said he is continually amazed by what he’s accomplished with the project.

“The biggest surprise or the biggest thing that has happened is probably that I have been able to take all my ideas that have been up here and over here and everywhere and bring them together,” he said. “And actually doing this project and focusing and getting forward, you know, getting more attention and working really hard with just like one project. Because I’m always doing millions of things and after one week I’m just bored. And then I want to do that and then I’m going there…I’m really, like, impulsive. I just want to do everything all the time. I’m never satisfied. Now, I’ve been able to focus and put a lot of effort into the songs I’m making.”

Stream the music of Summer Heart online at bandcamp, and treat your ears with a free download of the new EP’s title track, “My Forever Smile.”

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