New Found Land - eine Schwedin in Berlin. Ein Gespräch über Heimat.

“Being a woman is definitely better in Sweden.”

New Found Land tourte 2016 mit BOY und war Stargast in der STRAIGHT Box. Zu unserem Konzert im Berliner Gretchen Club musste Sängerin Anna Roxenholt nicht weit anreisen, denn Berlin ist mittlerweile ihr zuhause – und das obwohl es sich als Frau besser in Schweden lebt. Warum die Musikerin das so empfindet, erzählt Anna uns im STRAIGHT-Interview.

New Found Land. What do you associate with your band name?

To me the name New Found Land is an incentive to never get too comfortable in my artistic expression, to always strive to find paths and territories that are new to me. It may not be the cleverest move if you want to make a lot of money (hehe), but I’m putting my bets on that it enriches on other levels.

What does your place of birth mean to you?

I was born in Gothenburg, Sweden and it’s a place that means a lot to me. This is where I grew up, went to school and later came back to attend music uni. In every second corner there is a memory, and most of my family are still living there. It is hard to walk a mile there without bumping into someone you know, which can be sweet if you’re in the mood, or a bit claustrophobic if you’re not. I miss the ocean terribly.

Are you homesick when you meet People from Sweden in Berlin?

I do not get homesick when I meet Swedes abroad, but I often do feel a certain connection or a mutual understanding. Since Sweden is a small country, with nationwide public service being the major media output, there are so many references that we’re most likely to have in common.

Is Sweden a paradise for women?

Well, to call it a paradise would probably be a bit exaggerated. Sweden is far ahead on implementing a gender & equality thinking in day to day life, as well as in politics. But women still have lower salary/income/pension and still become victims of violence and abuse. Compared to Germany however, Sweden is definitely beyond on gender equality. This was a bit of a negative surprise when I moved here, that the equality discussion is sort of either lacking or a bit aggressive (probably because it’s still so much work left to do).

How visible are lesbians in Sweden?

It has sort of become very ”in” lately to be a lesbian in Sweden, and I think that is awesome! There are a lot of artists who are openly gay (like Silvana Imam & Beatrice Eli i.e.) or openly just themselves doing their thing, you know. Specially women. It feels a bit like a woman-take over honestly and it is sooooo welcome. I think this specially affects young people in a very positive way, but it also inspires me a lot to see that different kinds of people take the stages, the arenas, the space. I mean, when I was a kid there was like one famous lesbian, and one famous gay guy and one hippie dude with a kaftan. Now there is a whole lot of more diversity, different kinds of role models to identify yourself with or get inspired by. Sweden’s definitely on a good path there, I hope we will see something similar soon in Germany.

Where is the difference between Germany and Sweden?

In day to day life, not that big difference I guess, apart from that you in Sweden rarely get cat-called or harassed in the street perhaps. But there are definitely some weird things going on here in Germany, like for starters, if you’re married to a man, when you declare your tax, he is the main person to answer to the tax office. You’re just the wife, the appendix, even if you happen to earn more than him. Also, I recently found out how it works with abortions here. I just knew how it works in Sweden – you have the right to get one up to the 18th week without answering any questions if you don’t want to. You can get free councelling if you like. Germany on the contrary, is said to be a country with free abortion, but in practice it is not. Firstly, it is a criminal offense to terminate a pregnancy, you won’t get punished but it counts as a crime (!). Secondly, you have to go to some counsellor who’s job is to talk you into keeping it, and only if he/she doesn’t succeed you get your referral, but you have to wait some more days before you can get it done. Also, you only have up till the 12th week and while at the clinic you might get bullied by crazy catholic nurses. This feels like medieval to me to be honest. At the same time, we’re just an hour away from Poland, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. I like being a person in Berlin, but being a woman is definitely better in Sweden.

What can the two countries learn from each other?

I obviously think Germany can learn a lot from Sweden on the gender equality area. Moreover, I’m not very fond of the German honorifics, das Siezen. In Sweden we had something called ”du-reformen” in the 1960’s that suggested that we should all be ”du” (informal you) with one another and that we’re all equal, which I believe has helped the gender equality forward too. Sweden on the other hand, could learn from Germany that it is alright not to always reach consensus. Specially these day, when populism’s smelly breath is blowing on so many places around the world, we all need to step out of our safe zones and start taking these uncomfortable discussions.

Does home have a flag for you?

I do associate the Swedish flag with a lot of childhood memories and holidays and in some ways, being an expat probably makes me reflect upon my swedishness much more than if I still would be living in there. When something terrible happens in Sweden, or when politics are going to hell (like the last mandates) it makes me sad and angry. When something remarkably good happens, I get happy or even proud. I don’t harbour the same emotions about Germany as a nation.

If you define your homeland, who, where or what is your home?

My relation is my home, and our apartment where I have things from different times and places of my life. Oh, and music of course! Music is my mobile home, my sailing boat.

How flexible is home

Good question, I hope so. Because everything else sounds pretty boring.

What kind of food do you associate with home

A big cup of black tea with milk and dark bread with Gouda cheese.

Which kind of music

Sounds that I associate with Sweden are seagulls, choir music, my mom singing her songs, the tram and Gothenburg’s Springsteen Håkan Hellström to name a few. Here in Berlin the sound of home is hearing my husband working on a new song in the room next door.

What do you particularly like about your old home a) Landscape b) that people are similar to you in their habits c) culture d) language e) Memories?

I would say all of the above in different combinations. Nature is most likely more stunning somewhere else in the world, but no other place will make my heart jump like the naked rocks of Bohuslän, because I have so many memories there. And it’s is definitely something special about having a stimulating conversation in my mother-tongue and to be able to use the full spectrum of the language. Sometimes when I’m speaking Swedish though, I realize that I’m throwing puns into every sentence, just because I can. Quite tiresome to hang out with a person like that in the long run, haha. On the other hand, Gothenburgers are famous for their intentionally bad jokes, so I guess it’s my fate.

Are there lands, cities, regions etc. that make you think you were better suited to a different place?

I am very curious about Canada. It seems like the perfect mix of Sweden and USA. Maybe I’ll end up there someday…

Are there places where you grab the horror at the thought that it would be your home for you?

I would never want to live in a place where there is no space for the different.

How much work is in your work?

Right now there are so many people leaving everything behind, fleeing war. They might never be able to return to their home country. Just the thought not being able to go back to Sweden, to see my family, my friends or the nature again is horrifying. I think my background and where I come from has affected me as a person and as an artist in every possible aspect. It interweaves with the life and experiences that I have been making here in Germany and it defines who I am.

Would you go to a distant place to live there because of love?

I didn’t move to Germany for love but it was an extremely good reason to stay. I would move for love again, sure. As they say, home is where the heart is, and so if heart is elsewhere, I’d be sure to follow.

SHOWHIDE Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM