Molly Nilsson: the synthpop star embracing hope and loneliness

With her utopian outlook and determination to find magic in the everyday, the fiercely independent Swede swims against the tide

When synthpop singer Molly Nilsson plays live, she takes a CD of her instrumentals, hits play, then sings along with them in a glorious kind of self-karaoke. There’s no band, no instruments, just a woman singing about love, ennui and Milton Friedman. “If people are provoked by seeing a person on stage singing, that’s good,” she audibly shrugs down the line from her home in Berlin. “I think it’s punk. It’s not about skill, it’s the fact that you are human, on a stage where everything is focused on you and your expression. And that has all the value in the world.”

Her stark, mesmerising stage show is a neat visual representation of Nilsson Industries: she is a completely one-woman outfit, producing and performing all her music solo, booking her own tours, and releasing her own albums (this last task admittedly in tandem with indie Glasgow label Night School Records). Her debut came in 2008, and a decade later – following her masterpiece Imaginations, one of the best records of last year – she’s just released her eighth, the similarly excellent Twenty Twenty. Is 10 years a long time to spend by oneself? “I know that a lot of people are afraid of loneliness, and I don’t understand, because it’s nothing,” she says. “When you genuinely feel lonely, you can look at the situation and say: What if I just turn this around, and this is nice? And what if I’m just there for myself instead?”

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