An interview with Maja Ivarsson

Maja Ivarsson is in a long-term relationship with four guys. They’ve been together for 13 years, since she was a teenager, growing up in Sweden. They call themselves The Sounds and they have just released the fourth product of their love, Something to Die For.

”When we met, it’s almost like when you meet the love of your life,” Maja said. “There’s this chemistry going on and sparkle and you know ‘Oh my god — we’re on the same page, all of us, and we want the same things and it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when it’ll happen.”

The bisexual frontwoman says she feels married to her bandmates, Felix Rodriguez, Johan Bengtsson, Jesper Anderberg and Fredrik Nilsson, not only because they’ve been together so long, but because they have a lot of respect and love for one another.

”We’ve been going through hard times — like really hard times,” Maja said, “and really good times. But we always seem to land on both of our feet and be grounded and still want to do the same thing 13 years later, and that’s playing music and recording records.

Something to Die For is the follow-up to 2009’s Crossing the Rubicon, and Maja calls it a “reaction” to the last album’s mellowness.

”It was a little bit more mellow, little bit more sad,” Maja said of Crossing. “The title track, ‘Something to Die For,’ was the first song that was written for this [new] album. It became a little bit of a blueprint for the rest of the songs. We used a lot more electronic elements like samplers, orchestral and hip-hop elements.”

Something to Die For is 10 tracks of three minute Swedish-tinged pop songs that are led by Maja’s vocals, which come off as a call-to-arms with her staccato way of singing words so clear that you’d need only listen to the chorus once or twice to be able to sing along the rest of the song. And you will definitely want to, because The Sounds write songs that you can’t get out of your head. It’s just a matter of which one gets stuck.

On the new album, Maja says she let the guys do most of the lyrics writing, which isn’t typical but doesn’t mean she didn’t help shape the songs.

“I think that’s really nice because I know what they mean and I still write some, but what’s good about this band is everybody has their input in all of the songs when we’re writing,” she said. “It’s not like we’re in a band where there’s one guy writing everything and everybody else is like a hired gun. We’re involved in the songwriting and it’s good because everybody has their say in what’s going.”

One of the highlights of Something to Die For is the track “Diana,” an ode to a girl Maja knew that led a tragic life. But with lyrics like “Diana, why don’t you stay with me tonight / I know it’s me you’re looking for,” it could also be interpreted as a song about a lover.

”I had a girl that I grew up with and her name was Diana. She moved to America when she was 19 and she became a prostitute and died of an overdose by the age of 20,” Maja said. “So, for me, that song means more – like the Police’s ‘Roxanne.’ For me, it has more of a different angle to it. Not like a lover relationship more like a friendship relationship. I knew she was going to die young. She’s that kind of person. She lived her life really hard and really fast and I knew she was going to go that way but she was still my best friend and I was obviously hurt for a very very long time.”

The Sounds are revving up for a tour to support the new album, and their live show is just as much of their appeal, especially when it comes to Maja’s stage presence. She leaves no part of the stage unexplored and dances, jumps and slides around while wearing hot pants and heels, her bright blond hair making it easy to follow her no matter where you’re sitting or standing in the crowd. Her look is always part of the experience.

”If we’ve had some time off and been in the studio, about two weeks before the first show, I usually panic and run out and try to get something and come up with an idea,” Maja said of her stage outfits. “Sometimes I just try to pull off what I have at home, or try to mix it up with something new. I don’t know how I do it. I have a couple of dresses that I like and a couple hot pants that I enjoy wearing. I don’t have any stylists or anyone telling me what to wear. That would be nice actually sometimes. It’s good that I wear what I feel comfortable in.”

Recently hair care line Sebastian Professional took notice of Maja’s role as a style icon and picked her to be the spokeswoman for their Color Ignite products. Maja said her management just called her up and said that she’d been picked out of 10 women they’d been considering.

”It was very flattering, every photo shoot I’ve done with them and press and media I’ve done for Sebastian has always been very professional and very, very good,” Maja said. “They hooked us up to play at Berlin Fashion Week. It’s a brand that I knew from before and they make good stuff so to me it was pretty easy decision.”

Although she does note that the color choice for the streak in her hair wasn’t one she would have made. “I wouldn’t wear pink — I’d do blue,” she said.

See? That’s what happens when a style icon gets a stylist — it takes away from their own style. But luckily, that’s not the case with Something to Die For, which The Sounds wrote and produced all on their own, which Maja is excited about.

”We’re super proud of this one,” she said. As they should be.

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