Confidently finding her voice and vision as an artist, Agnes is boldly reclaiming her place in the spotlight ahead of the release of her fifth studio album slated for release later this year. Recent single ’24 Hours’ hears the Swedish singer-songwriter intertwining her love for 70’s disco music with her 90s and early 2000’s pop roots. Affectionately calling it “spiritual disco”, this pulsating and groove-laden sound is immediately captivating, and will have you wanting to leave your heart out on a dance floor with all your friends by your side.
Contrasting the addictive production with an honest and vulnerable lyrical unravelling, she explores the expiration of a relationship and finally being able to see how toxic something was. There is a cathartic release of emotions that shines through the pulsating hook which will be immediately stuck in your head. Embracing that balance within the foundations of her next record, she sees it as a growth from her humble beginnings of winning Idol in 2005 and finding international acclaim in 2008 with her breakthrough smash hit ‘Release Me’. With a strong vision behind her, ’24 Hours’ is a bold reflection of the direction she’s heading in.
I recently chatted to Agnes about the shimmery and pulsating production behind her new single ’24 Hours’, dived into the emotional contrast of the lyrics, and reflected on the 12 year anniversary of her album ‘Dance Love Pop’. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ’24 Hours’ is a shimmery and pulsating synth pop track all about how sometimes we need to go through something extreme to wake up and actually see the reality of a situation. Can you explain how this track creatively came together?
AGNES: It started with the title ’24 Hours’. I’ve been going through good and bad months, and when I started to write the song I started to gain more perspective. I was seeing this sliding door moment. I had this friend who had just gone through a really bad relationship, so I was envisioning standing on the side and seeing how something that could be the worst thing happening to you, in the end could actually be the best. Sometimes you have to get really sad or really angry, and then you can use that energy to get out of that situation. Often you think of bad things happening as “bad”, but sometimes the bad thing is actually good.
TB: Sonically I was picking up a lot of Robyn vibes mixed in with some nostalgic 90’s and early 2000’s pop. And you’re currently in the studio right now as we speak, so what is sonically inspiring you specifically with this next chapter of music?
A: Do you know what, today is actually my last day finishing the album in the studio! I’ve been very much inspired by old 70’s music like Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summers and Sylvester. But then I also listen to a lot of Solange.
I knew when I started working on the album that I looked at what I do musically as spiritual disco, so I wanted the lyrics to be healing to me and hopefully for others. A lot of inspiration comes from the 70’s, but I grew up in the 90’s and early 2000’s, and you can definitely hear that on ’24 Hours’ with the stacking vocals.
TB: The music video is this gorgeous and artistic piece that feels like a high fashion look-book. What was your favourite outfit to wear from this shoot?
A: It all started with the look for the single artwork, so I would say that is definitely my favourite. In my mind I saw the triangle styled hair with the pointy shoulders and bold colours like red, yellow and black. I wanted people to remember the photo from the first time they looked at it.
When we started to come up with the idea for the video, I saw the process of grief after you get out of a relationship. So I really wanted to have different looks to portray different feelings. We had a lot of fun creating the looks.
TB: The single cover actually gave me a bit of Grace Jones vibes.
A: She is a big inspiration for me. She is the coolest human being ever!
TB: You did a stripped back version of ’24 Hours’ for The Circle Sessions which highlighted the song through a whole new perspective with its emotionally layered lyrics. What is your favourite thing that is highlighted in this version over the original?
A: At the beginning, the production for ’24 Hours’ sounded completely different. In the middle of the process we changed the verses and changed the production. But while we were writing it, we had the guitar as the base. A lot of people forget when you have uptempo songs that there is still heavy emotion still behind all the production.
I love stripping back every up-tempo song I have because then you get a completely different vibe to it and you hear the lyrics more. The acoustic version of ’24 Hours’ is so much sadder than the original *laughs*. So yeah, I just love playing with the songs I have. It’s not fun to perform the songs the same way every time.
TB: Last year you released the playful ‘Fingers Crossed’ which is all about getting to know someone and hoping that they aren’t too good to be true. Was this a track that came together quickly?
A: Yeah, this was actually a pretty quick song to come together. Salem Al Fakir sat at the piano , Vincent Pontare was at the drums, and I had the microphone. Often when we make music that is where we start, we just turn on the microphone and see what happens. So this song was written really quickly, but then a year passed. It was really early on in the process of the album and I didn’t really know the sound I wanted to have and what direction I wanted to go in. We played with the production a bit over that time but in the end we actually went back to that first version.
TB: It has been 12 Years since the release of ‘Dance Love Pop’ which introduced you to a global audience. When you look back at the record now, what are your personal praises and criticisms for it?
A: I had a very clear vision for that album with what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t as involved with the creative process as I am now. It’s completely different now. When I look back at it I’m very proud and grateful of all the success I had with the album, but I hear parts of me drifting through some of the songs, and some parts there’s not. It was all about learning that for me to connect with a song that I have to be the one completely creating them, and have a clear mind of what I wanna do. And that’s been a process for me that I started with ‘Dance Love Pop’, and especially with ‘Release Me’ as that was one of the first songs I wrote myself.
TB: ’Release Me’ is a song that is still played on heavy rotation in gay clubs in Australia, and deservingly so. Where is one of the funniest or weirdest places that you’ve heard the song being played?
A: One of the weirdest places I’ve heard the song was when I was walking home from a club in the middle of the night and somebody was playing it in their apartment with their window open and it was echoing through the street. It was one of those moments where I was like “I know this song…” and it took me a moment to realise it was me.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions. Are you ready?
A: Maybe *laughs*.
TB: The emoji that best describes my new single ’24 Hours’ is…
A: The glittery stars!
TB: When I think of Australia I think of…
TB: The colour of my toothbrush currently is…
A: Right now it’s black, but my favourite one recently was green.
TB: My pre-show ritual involves…
A: If I’m with the band we get together and hold each others hands and scream “I am wonderful! I am sexy! I am talented! I am everything I want to be”. But if I’m by myself I usually just meditate.
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
A: I would say it’s a no.
TB: Oh okay, the queen has spoken!
A: *laughs* when I was a child I always ate pineapple on pizza, but now I like really plain pizzas like tomato base with mozzarella.
’24 Hours’ is out now!