In 2007, Lykke Li (pronounced “LUKE-ee LEE”) became a blogger sensation as the chirpy-voiced pixie behind “Little Bit” off her debut album, Youth Novels. She then became a teen curiosity in 2009 when her dirgelike love song “Possibility” appeared in The Twilight Saga: New Moon. In between, the Swede was sampled by Drake and featured (with Kanye West) on N.A.S.A.'s "Gifted." Now the 25-year-old is in the middle of a world tour (she hits the States in May) to support her recently released sophomore record, the critically lauded Wounded Rhymes. (Tonight you'll hear her song "I Follow Rivers" covered on Glee.) When Vulture phoned her up between stops on the tour, she answered, “Red-light district!” for no reason, before talking about stalking David Lynch, her deep connection to Twilight, and how she’s going to get rid of her free iPad.
You visited the California desert before writing and recording this album in Los Angeles. What did you do there?
I slept on a rock under the stars. I made a short film called Solarium. I walked around, had nice conversations. I ate steak.
You said you came west for the warmth, but much of Wounded Rhymes is dark.
I mean, L.A. is probably the most mysterious, craziest, psychedelic place on earth. There are people with perfect teeth and big smiles and good tans. But there are also millions of people who came with a dream and never made it. There’s a lot of sorrow in that city. I just think it’s a magnetic place.
There’s a definite L.A.–Phil Spector sound on your album.
I’m in love with, like, the echo chamber. I think what I strive for is how I can make a great song [that will make you] feel a lot. How can I make it vibrant and not use computers and not use bullshit?
Which is interesting, because people initially pegged you as an electronic musician.
I got really pissed off about it. I can still hear people talk about me in that way. I’m the least electronic person — I carry books around. Somebody gave me an iPad the other day, and I didn’t know what to do with it. Nobody in my band wanted it — we just kept passing the iPad around.
Tell me about meeting David Lynch while you were in L.A.
I did. I did. I finally did! I got invited to his art show and got a chance to meet him. It was my dream. He’s so nice. He was like, “Lykke Li, let’s stay in touch.” I’m going to keep haunting him.
In interviews, you tend to reference a lot of filmmakers as inspirations — Jodorowsky, Cassavetes, Antonioni
I’m just curious by nature. I’ve always been drawn to cinematic experiences and that approach to music. It’s the way that I do my videos, if you can even call them videos. The latest one I shot, for “Sadness Is a Blessing,” was like a film scene with Stellan Skarsgård [father of True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård] in it. I’m definitely exploring that world between a short film and a visual story.
Are you interested in scoring a film?
If I can do something with somebody that I can learn something from, then yes. But I don’t take orders.
What was the appeal of contributing to the New Moon soundtrack?
What’s really funny is that it is mainstream. It’s like having space cookies at a lecture. A guy did that in a Swedish university. He gave the whole staff nobody knew what it was. That’s what I was trying to do.
Um, what are space cookies?
Like brownies with marijuana in them.
It’s like you sneak in something strange, and it’s very rewarding.
Have you actually seen the Twilight movies?
No. I mean, they made me watch the second one, but that was before it was all done.
Did you enjoy it?
It’s not about enjoyment. For me, it’s about the actual: this girl that is hopelessly in love. I can relate to that.
This and your previous record seem to, thematically, be about failed relationships. What happened this time?
[Laughs.] How could I ever tell? Do you want, like, a name and a number? You know. I put a lot into that record, so I feel if I were to explain it further that would be a bit too much, even for me. There are a lot of real stories in it.
Can you explain the conceit behind the “Get Some” video? The song has gotten a lot of attention, especially for its lyrics, “I'm your prostitute, you’re gonna get some.”
That’s just about how women are seen as the siren. And it’s about cults. I was watching a lot of, like, sect tapes. I love people with convictions who can just stare into a camera and be talking obsessively about religion or something. That was more a visual concept than a story, kind of like a hypnotic tape. “How can I convince you to join my cult?”
Last question: Why do rappers like you so much?
Um because I got balls?