4 To Watch: Loney, Dear

Learning to Like His Own Voice

Music Features
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Hometown: Jönköping, Sweden
Sole member: Emil Svanängen
Fun fact: Svanängen didn’t always plan to be a musician. “I wanted to be a computer tech when I was real young,” he says. “I always wanted to play music but didn’t think it was possible.”
Why he’s worth watching: Loney, Dear has already shared the stage with Sonic Youth, Bloc Party, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Devendra Banhart, Smog and Joanna Newsom.
For fans of: Simon & Garfunkel, Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens

While some musicians spend thousands of dollars on fancy recording studios and renowned producers, Sweden’s Emil Svanängen—aka Loney, Dear—holes up in his parents’ basement with a computer, a pile of instruments and a stack of CD-Rs.

Svanängen likes the creative control he has when alone in the makeshift studio, recording and re-recording until he’s satisfied. It’s also where he learned to sing. Despite having played the clarinet since age five, later learning a multitude of other instruments and joining several jazz bands, Svanängen was always afraid to use his voice—then one day it dawned on him that, with simple recording equipment, he could try singing but save himself from potential embarrassment. “It really helped me that you can have a protected environment and listen before anyone else has a chance to criticize it,” he says. On new release Loney, Noir, Svanängen’s youthful voice merges with cheerful melodies, straightforward lyrics and a mini orchestra to create a delightfully thrown-together sound that would be spoiled by too much vocal training or too many hands in the studio.

Considering his self-reliant recording habits, Svanängen’s stage name comes as no surprise. “It’s connected to the feeling when you’re recording alone on a Friday night,” he says. “All your friends are out drinking, and you’re staying at home and being lonely.”

Although he’s a homebody, Svanängen is learning to embrace traveling with a full band. “Now that I’m out on the road with my friends, it feels like a true privilege,” he says. But when the tour’s over, he plans to head right back to his private home studio: “I think I’ll make myself a cup of tea and try to make some music.”