Admirable people, personal style and how to free yourself from people’s expectations – Blog Bohème adresses 11 questions to Daniel Bellqvist, lead singer of the Swedish indie band Eskobar
Ikea, crispbread, elks and ABBA. Those might be some of the phenomena that come to mind when you think about Sweden. In my mind, this beautiful country will always be connected to great indie bands like The Hives, Mando Diao, Peter Bjorn & John or The Tallest Man On Earth, whose Retro Rock n‘ Roll sounds made me dance in Munich’s famous Atomic Cafe. The related compilation Atömström is a monument of this era. My favourite, however, is the band Eskobar from Stockholm. Since the publication of their first record Till We’re Dead in 2000 I have loved listening to their rock/pop sounds. Now lead singer Daniel Bellqvist and guitarist Frederik Zäll are back with the new single Untrap Yourself and proof that they have done their homework. So I am absolutely sure they will deliver a few catchy songs on their new record (title and date for release unknown).
Exclusively for Blog Bohème, lead singer Daniel Bellqvist faced 11 questions and told us some interesting facts about himself, his work and why, nowadays, he does not face freezing of his ass for style’s sake anymore:
Lennon or McCartney?
DB: I’d have to say Lennon because I love his songs for their depth but I love Paul’s voice when he goes raspy with it like in “Rock n’ Roll Music” for instance.
Rum or Coke?
DB: Been sober for 9 years and I don’t drink soda so I have to say neither. Water or Tea for me.
Cats or Dogs?
DB: 100 000% dogs. Me and my wife have a Pharaoh Hound called Dahlia and she’s truly our daughter. The amount of love we feel for her daily is just ridiculous. She definitely taught me about unconditional love.
No matter who they are or in which business they are – on our blog we address people we respect for several reasons. Are there any people you admire? Who are they and what do they do?
DB: Mein Gott, yes. Many people: Vadim Zeland, he wrote the best series of books I ever read called Reality Transurfing. I’ve been into kind of a spiritual journey for the last 8 years or so and this book describes reality in a way that I believe the world and universe truly works. Zeland is a russian former scientist and the books have a lot of Quantum Physical theories that I find very exciting. Eckhart Tolle is the writer of A New Earth that I have as my second favorite book ever. Spiritual guidance again. Amazing. Christophe Decarnin, former head designer of Balmain, is an absolute fashion design genius. His collections are in my top 3 as far as designers go together with Roberto Cavalli and Alexandre Vauthier. And last but not least: Ulrich Seidl, one of the best directors ever and he made my all time favorite movie Hundstage. I could go on forever but these will do for now.
When I listen to you and your band Eskobar, I am sixteen again: Britpop Haircut, Track Top and tight jeans. You are forty now. How have your style & music changed since your first record?
DB: My style has become a little more flexible through the years. I use more color, it used to be almost all black. I still see the height of mens fashion to be the 60’s and 70’s musicians and movie stars style so most of what I wear have hints of that in it. I’ve also relaxed my style a bit in that I separate “fashion” and “function”. When I was younger I’d torture myself walking the streets in the middle of winter wearing my minimal leather jacket and my slippery pointy shoes etc freezing my ass off just to cling to my style. Now I don’t care that I look like a mess when I go out with to play with our dog in the snow etc. Musically we’ve been in a journey as long as we’ve been a band and we’ve wanted to try different sounds etc along the way and that still hasn’t changed but the core of Eskobar will always be my voice and Frederik Zäll’s guitars.
Ok, just between us: You are a damned fine-looking chap. Any style advice for our bohème readers?
DB: Hahaha, thanks, you haven’t seen me at the dog park but ok. Well, my style advice is to find what style you like and think you look good/great in and just keep adding to that wardrobe and you’ll look great. Screw trends. How could someone else know what you are inside that should be represented on the outside in your style to have cohesion between your inside and your surface? Only you.
“Then I go down, down, down like I always do.” Those are the lyrics from one of my Eskobar favourites “The Devil keeps me moving”. What does your personal devil look like?
DB: Well it used to look like whatever container had alcohol in it. I was an active alcoholic for years and it was just sad and a waste of time. And I’m not a person of moderation in anything I do. I go overboard. So when it came to alcohol it was a bad thing. But when it comes to learning new skills to express myself in it’s truly a great strength for me. For example: Me and my wife saw a photo of a red velvet blazer that was absolutely stunning and we both wanted it for my wife. Sadly it was a few seasons old so it was no longer available. That led me to go on youtube and learn everything from how to thread my wifes grandmother’s old sewing machine to actually creating kind of a great copy of that blazer and then I started designing a whole heap of clothes for my wife.
Since music casting shows are booming, the world is full of so called “superstars” – and I am sick of them. The French Nouvelle Star winner Christophe Willem sang your famous song Something New. What is your opinion on Casting Shows?
DB: Well firstly I’m so honored anyone sings/records one of our songs when they had the whole of music history to choose from. But to your question, I used to LOVE those casting shows, like x-factor UK etc. For several reasons: I loved seeing the journey from a shaky rookie on the first show gaining confidence along the show’s duration and I don’t know why but I always get chills of joy when I see someone succeed or fulfill their dream and that happened quite often on those shows. I appreciate talent even if it’s “just” singing without the ability to write a song to sing. At the same time when I get questions like above about who I admire none of those talent show people will ever cross my mind but I think there is value in momentary entertainment as well as in deeper, more solid, genuine, lasting-forever kind of entertainment. As in film I LOVE weird stuff like Hundstage, Gummo, Ex-drummer, The Idiots, Eraserhead and it’s definitely my favorite type of movie, but that doesn’t mean I only want to see that type of movie at all times. I also love watching stupid Jonah Hill comedies with my wife just relaxing and laughing. And just as with music if I get asked my favourite movie of all time it will be something profound. Back to the shows, I grew tired of them after a few years and don’t watch them anymore.
This blog is called bohème. What does bohème mean to you?
DB: First thing that comes to mind when I hear the word Bohème is the bohemian chic style in fashion. My second thought is sleazily dressed artists/painters/sculptors drunk on homemade red wine.
Besides making music you also take photos and do designs for the fashion world. How would you describe your work?
DB: Well, my music I’d describe as soul made. I try to avoid my mind interfering in the creation of our music and let the soul/heart/spirit come through as undiluted as possible. My fashion photography I’d describe as fantasy and reality mixed. I see my photography as a photo version of Salvador Dalí as I like stretched out long limbs in my images. Much more subtle than Dalí though since I like to keep it on the edge of going into fantasy land but I love shooting with a wide angle lens to create interesting shapes in my images. My fashion designing didn’t have a long enough life to create my own style so I just copied concepts from my design heroes.
Back to the music. Many of our readers are young people who don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Your new single is called “Untrap yourself”. Could that be a hint?
DB: It could definitely be used in that context. Untraping yourself from all expectations and ideas, of what should be done in life, from you parents and society is the key to finding happiness and I’d definitely advice seeking happiness over success. A mind trick I made up to know if you’re the right track (doing what YOU love) is to ask yourself “If I was the only person left on earth, meaning if there was no one to impress – satisfy – make proud, but myself, what would I do? Or, would I do what I’m doing now?” If the answer is yes I’d say you’re probably on the right track. As long as it’s nothing harmful to anyone of course. So if there is no payoff in the end but the actual joy you’re getting out of doing whatever it is you do in the moment, then again, you’re probably on the right track. I don’t believe in doing boring things to get good things later. If there’s no joy in the process of reaching a goal, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Ok, this might have gotten a little deep but yeah, that’s some of my views on finding happiness.