Welcome to Boombox Blitz, an artist spotlight series showcasing overlooked singers, songwriters and musicians who are quietly taking over the world.
Inhabiting a shadowy space between Ellie Goulding breathiness and the brash promiscuity of Tove Lo, Amanda Fondell is a creature of might and enchantment. She’s one of two youngest winners to-date on the Swedish version of Idol, having swiped the crown back in 2011. She was only 17 and would subsequently snag a No. 1 album with her debut full-length, All This Way, on Universal Music Group. Her sophomore effort followed in 2014, and while she built on her brazen and cool aesthetic, Because I Am would not see nearly the same level of commercial success. She then stepped back from the spotlight to gather her wits and further develop her songwriting. “Over three years I wrote so many songs–the ones you need to write before something good comes out,” she shared in an All Access Music interview. “I was looking for and wanted to create an honest raw world with fun rhythms and unexpected sounds.”
“There are a lot of sounds on the EP that are taken out of context and aren’t necessarily real instruments. Before deciding to make the EP, I was in a lot of label meetings and felt that no one understood what I wanted to do, so I decided to release it on my own with my crew,” she continued. “I’ve learned that every little step of the process took more time and effort than I expected. There were many hard decisions to make, but I’m so happy with the end result.”
The singer, born and raised in the tiny village of Linderöd, returned earlier this year with the syrupy and audacious “Naked” (written with Linnea Södahl and Andreas Roos), in which she wails “I just wanna see you naked” over thick, fuzzy synths and alarmingly fierce percussion. The hard-hitting track served as the lead-in to her latest project, the curious and thoughtfully-titled In a Talk with Nature EP–which draws its name from the second track, the drippy, propulsive “Count on You.” It’s a brooding entry, too, but still ignites revolutionary traits in her personal stake. “I’m in a talk with nature. It won’t judge,” she observes, reflecting on a relationship that has gone sour. “Why can’t I count on you?” reads the hook. It is her uncomplicated honesty which soaks and informs her music these days, a reaction to an industry which would dare singers and songwriters to do otherwise. “I wasn’t ready for this life,” she later purrs on “Shadows,” a more subtle and intimate recording.
“Naked” has amassed 262,000 streams on Spotify, while “All This Way” creeps up on a whopping 16 million. Fondell joins a long line of performers and musicians to come out of Sweden, from Robyn and Lykke Li to Zara Larsson, Seinabo Sey, Aviici and prolific producer and songwriter Max Martin (real name: Karl Martin Sandberg).
“All artists want to be honest nowadays. I think that the artist is more in the process now than before,” she told Myspace about her headspace these days. “I just write what I feel. I may regret it somehow, some day when I’m older or something. But I feel music needs to be that raw if it’s going to reach people.” Fondell’s sketches about humanity are purposeful, dogged even, and exemplify her steady urgency to win–and there is never an air of cockiness to her presentation. She’s a woman of resilience, and she won’t go down without a fight.
In a Talk with Nature EP is out now on iTunes, and you can spin it below, via Spotify: