"I don’t ever want to get stuck in a genre"
What makes Still Woozy so mesmerising is down to the fact that he refuses to be stuck in one genre. When a Still Woozy song comes on, you know it is a Still Woozy song. Over the years I’ve been listening to him, I have had such a hard time trying to pinpoint just exactly what his music sounds like. Recommending his tunes to friends has had me throwing around the words ‘psychedelic’ as a way to try grasp even one way to describe the indescribable. But now, I have just learnt to give up trying to pinpoint what it is exactly. And a recommendation is a lot simpler... “You just need to hear it.”
Still Woozy’s journey has been a long but steady one. From 2017, releasing his very first song ‘Vacation’ - an experimental song full of wub-wubs and synth, with oddly glossy vocals bouncing around the beat. Following this, was a hot streak of singles, ‘Cooks’, ‘Goodie Bag’ and ‘Lucy’ - with each song showcasing his colossal range of potential. He continued this through 2019, with his ‘Lately EP’ which further concreted his place as a rising sensation. He then began his next hot streak in 2020, providing his steadily growing number of fans with three sonically innovative singles that encapsulated everything Still Woozy has always been. It honestly sounds like his main inspiration is himself. His new tunes are refined, yet you still know that you‘re listening to a Still Woozy track. Staying on par with his great hits from 2017, while still offering his myriad of new skills on a silver platter. Constantly giving us unique sounds, fresh textures and the secret ingredient to it all... his integrity.
Now, after spending the last few years perfecting his craft, Still Woozy will no doubt be cast in a shining spotlight, dancing to the beat of his own drum as he shows off his versatility once again on his highly anticipated debut album, “If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is”. I was lucky enough to catch up with one of my favourite artists of all time before its release.
When I connect to the call with Still Woozy, an overwhelming wave of excitement quickly takes over. However as our chat progresses, I begin to forget about him as Still Woozy, I’m really just chatting with Sven, the man behind the Still Woozy moniker. He’s a little bit dorky, talking about his foot injury that left him in a moonboot for a little while. Throughout our call I often see the appearance of his walking stick, and by the end of the call he is waving it around over his head, spinning around in his office chair just having a laugh. He is fun, honest and truly himself. His music really is an embodiment of his true self, which I learnt very quickly. This is one of the reasons his music has consistently remained so damn authentic over the years - he is not afraid to take risks with his sound, his sound is his own. For everything he brings to the table, it is undeniable that Still Woozy deserves a million times more recognition. I highly encourage you to give his tunes a listen while you read this interview, especially if you haven’t heard it before. I can say with confidence that I would love to discover the musical mastermind that is Still Woozy for the first time again if I could.
"It happens with every song... There’s a mistake that I make that actually is kind of crazy and ends up sticking."
Firstly, how did Still Woozy begin?
I’ve been making music for a fucking long time, but it started when I wrote a song… I was in this other band, and I was getting tired of having to calculate music. And so I brought my friend a song that was simple and had a good flow, it was all about the groove. He was like “oh yeah it’s kinda’ cool…” and then he put it in a crazy time signature. And he was like “let’s do this… and let’s add this section”, and it became kind of unrecognisable. It lost the plot, so to speak. And I realised in that moment that what we were going for was just not compatible. After that I was like fuck it, I don’t want to make any more compromises, it wastes enough time. I wanted to control all of the aspects, it’s a little fucked up to say I wanted to control it all, but it’s true – I wanted to make the decisions and didn’t want to have to always take into account other people. It just waters down the original idea, and I feel like when you have something watered down, there’s no point in doing that as an artist. I was just making weird pop music for a while. I was free of all the pressure and expectation and I wanted to let it go and just go wherever the hell my brain wanted to go. I guess Still Woozy started when I started showing my friends the stuff I was working on, and that had me scratching my head. I just realised that I wanted to make pop music at the end of the day, that’s what I feel in love with you know? I wanted to give other people music that they could have the way I had some songs at a crucial time when I needed that music.
Did you grow up in a musical household?
Not really at all. My two brothers and my dad both played the trombone… that’s it though! They didn’t really do it often. It’s kind of hard to be a trombone player… loud and kind of obnoxious… what are you going to do? Play at the fair every year? So no, not really at all. My mum always wanted us to take piano lessons, but I started taking guitar lessons when I was nine or so. So she was definitely supportive of me getting into music.
What were you like when you released ‘Vacation’?
I had spent so long making this obscure music, and it’s not even that obscure like if you listened to it my old band and you hear me say that, you wouldn’t necessarily say it was obscure. But to me we did everything we could just to make it complicated. But I had spent so long in that headspace I was still there. Vacation was actually seven minutes long when I first made it because the way I wrote it was in little segments. And I listened to it and thought that it was fun for me to listen to, but I don’t know if people are going to sit through a seven minute song. So I literally chopped it in half, and that was the song. That was when I realised my own attention span too, because I don’t want to listen to a seven minute song.
How have you evolved between the songs released in 2017, and your upcoming album?
I know so much more of what I feel like I want to achieve through the music. I think I’m so much better at writing and arranging now. Right now I’m finishing a song that’s on the album that I’ve had for four years. And it blows my mind when I’m editing the audio, and it is horrible… it’s from four years ago, I had no idea what I was doing four years ago. I would record way too close to the microphone, and I would turn it up all the way so it would be clipping… and it would just be all out of tune and fucking horrible. So I look back on that and I look at the stuff I do now and I’m happy. I’m much quicker at getting something that’s good. You don’t want to lose an idea, you have to focus on all these tiny aspects, but you don’t want to lose the inspiration. So now I feel like I’m much better at getting my point across.
Your music sounds very upbeat and happy, but a lot of the time the lyrical content isn’t… how do you balance these two emotions?
That is actually something I’m thinking a lot about now, because there is more of that to come on the album. That’s just how I am, I struggle with a lot of things like mental health, and I need to simultaneously express that while also kind of buffer myself from it, and so that’s where the feeling of the music comes from. I don’t want to make somebody feel hopeless you know? There is music out there that does that already, and I hear it and it immediately gives me anxiety. I don’t know how people listen to it by the millions. No hate on that obviously, because everyone has got to express something differently. But for me, it helps to have some kind of optimism. My songs have to have both because that’s how I am – I’m not the most optimistic, out there person you’ll ever meet. It’s the way I cope.
Does your relationship with the music ever change?
It changes every day! I’m just like oh that sucks… oh it’s okay… That just parallels with my relationship with myself too, it is so intertwined, the way I am with my music and the way I am with myself are hard to separate. I’ll be like “I’m okay!” even if I feel like there’s some stuff I need to work on. So that’s what I’m trying to get better at in my life, trying to be more stable.
The art for your singles is amazing – your partner is extremely talented. Tell me about the relationship between your art, and hers.
I feel like more than anything I came into her life and she had already been doing her art, and I had been making my art, and it just fit. I feel like there’s not much more to say about it, we just work. As people we have similar values, if that gets translated into the art. We have always just matched, and have tried not to question it and just go with it. Simple as that! It is crazy how well it all fits! She is so humble too, she’s a nurse now so she’s working and doing other things and doesn’t even think of herself as an artist, so I’m always like “No! You’re crazy! You’re such a good artist!”. She really inspires me... I take a lot from our relationship. Feelings I feel in our relationship are the strongest feelings I have in my life, and when I write music I just go to that. It’s always just expressing something about how I‘m feeling, and it usually just ends up by default being about her. On this album not every song is about her, I don’t want to just have ten straight albums of the same thing.
Your music contains such a fascinating cluster of sounds. With so many different sounds – do you ever make mistakes that end up working?
All the time! On one of the songs I have that isn’t released yet there were these two vocal tracks that were stacked on top of each other, and I don’t know when I recorded them or where they came from, they literally came out of nowhere, and I was playing this song and didn’t have anything past a certain point, these things were just sitting at the point where the song stopped. So I was listening to it, and they started playing and I was like… that’s so interesting and cool! So that ended up being a pre-chorus. It was like serendipity just struck and it was just fucking… I don’t know… it happens with every song. There’s a mistake that I make that actually is kind of crazy and ends up sticking.
What is your production process like?
It’s all different. Sometimes I start with chords, sometimes I start with drums. It’s usually chords or drums, or a guitar part. Sometimes its vocals but that is very rare. Sometimes it’s all together… I don’t know, it’s all over the place. For so long I’ve been working with just myself, but on this album I’ve worked a lot with someone who has become a good friend of mine called Lars Stalfors who is a producer. He and I have worked so many hours, and he’s put up with me through all my crazy whirlwind moments. I’m a notorious tweaker, I like to tweak the little details and get them all perfect. And it’s not easy, but we have found a really good rhythm where he helps me organise my thoughts, he doesn’t really play any of the instruments, he is sort of like a Rick Ruben producer getting me to focus in on specific things. My brain is like what about this… and this… and this! I’m all over the place, and he helps to just talk through it. It’s really hard to do it all yourself, you know that. I do welcome that kind of feedback because I do get caught in my own world. Since I started working with Lars, we’ve become really good friends, I’ve talked to him probably like every day, we just work on shit and get it ready. It’s really revolutionised my pace.
What can we expect from your debut album?
You can expect things to be similar, but also very different. There are a few different genres that I’m trying to incorporate… I don’t want to say which genres because I don’t want to get anything stuck with a label or in a genre. I was listening to a lot of The Beatles during this album, a lot of Deangelo as well. Honestly those two are the biggest influences for this album. I don’t ever want to get stuck in a genre, and I think you’ll see that on the album that I do expand from what I’m known for.
Listen to Still Woozy's latest single 'Get Down' from his upcoming debut album 'If This Isn't Nice, I Don't Know What Is' on Spotify below:
Still Woozy is featured in Tenner Magazine's 'Discover' issue - available to order!
Words by Oli Spencer
Photography by Oli Spencer, shot over FaceTime