Transcript of the interview:
Lotta: Welcome to Lotta and the Conversation. In my radio show “Half past three with Lotta Bromé” on Mix Megapol, I meet lots of different people. And sometimes I have the privilege to meet them a little longer. In Lotta and the Conversation, you get to hear the whole conversation with some of my guests. Basically, a bit more and extra of everything. In this conversation, I’m meeting Cornelia Jakobs, and it was so strange because it felt like we’d already met, that’s what I thought before entering the studio. To my surprise, she said almost the exact same thing before me. This was a very special meeting, I hope you’ll like it.
L: Do you need headphones or do you have?
Cornelia: Yeah I have them here.
L: I also have headphones.
C: I can even hear with them so that’s good.
L: Do you hear in them?
C: Yes, I hear in them, really well.
L: Great. Finally you’re here.
C: It’s nice to finally meet you, we’ve never met before.
L: Yeah, why’s that?
C: I don’t know.
L: It feels like we have but we haven’t, I was thinking about that right before.
C: This whole business is like a duck pond. You feel like a real “real” person.
L: That was a nice compliment.
C: Yeah really, it really is. It’s not that common in this business, there’s a lot of people thinking it’s fancy with the celebrity parties.
L: You turned 30 this spring, and suddenly you had a breakthrough over a night. What a spring!
C: What a spring! What a birthday gift! I turned 30 the Wednesday before the final, I didn’t have time to have a 30th birthday party, but I got to celebrate a victory and that was a huge gift.
L: But for us, it was like you broke through over a night, but for you, how long did you fight for your breakthrough.
C: I’ve worked in this business since the 2nd year of high school but in different constellations.
L: You’ve participated in Melodifestivalen before. Love Generation, and what was that?
C: That’s the question Lotta. The Mello song was “I’ll dance alone, keep the music playing on, on and on, I’ll dance alone…”
L: Which place did you get?
C: We got to the Second Chance. It feels like a past life.
L: How good are you at thinking like that? That that was a past life? Do you divide your life like that?
C: Yes, sometimes. It depends on the mood that day and how close you feel to different eras of your life at the moment. Sometimes I feel like I can connect a lot with seven-year-old Cornelia and sometimes I feel like she’s very far away. And same with different eras. But Love Generation feels very far away cause I think that was far from me as a person.
L: What about the seven-year-old? What was she like?
C: Funny that you ask. I’ve been thinking a lot about seven-year-old Cornelia the past two years. Around 6-7 I was my most “clean” self. I had become human, but it was before you started school, or before you started to get a lot of things thrown at you by society. It was really interesting, last Christmas I was at my grandparents’ house, and they have a lot of school photos. And I was looking at the photos and got stuck on one photo, like “Wow. That’s me. And what was before and what was after wasn’t me. Or, it was a part of me, but it was one specific photo that I looked at and was touched by it, because I was looking right into myself. My entire expression was wow, I was safe- I was fully myself.
L: You were about to say “safe”.
C: Yea, kinda. I was safe there. I’ve always been a safe kid. Always had a strong identity and strong sense of what I want. But I have obviously been affected by all the surroundings. But right there and then I was the most whole, I feel. Discovering that caused me to try more and more to find my way back to that child. The 6-7 year old. It became like – the whole Mello experience became a closed circle cause as I was saying, I thought a lot about this child. And it’s exactly that same age, 6-7 that I found the music and I found the happiness in myself and my sanctuary. It became my sanctuary already back then. I started to sing at dad’s concerts when I was seven. I’m happy with that, cause it was before I started analyzing what was okay and stuff. I was entirely clean in my joy for singing and expressing myself. And at a stage! I’ve always had a strong way of expressing myself and that could be problematic in different situations… raising a kid and stuff, so it could lead to fights. But on a stage you can’t really express yourself too strongly.
L: Do you have any siblings?
C: Yes, three.
L: Where in the order are you?
C: I’m number two.
L: Is that good or bad?
C: Euuuhm… What a – I don’t know.
L: Did you get your own things or did you get hand me downs?
C: Hand me downs. Absolutely.
L: Maybe that’s okay, cause you like second hand, right?
C: Love second hand. I haven’t really cared about that stuff. I have never wanted to – or I have always wanted to be different. So I have never, when people have been like “Everyone has to have Canada Goose jackets”, I’ve been like I don’t want that. So that might have been beneficial. Since I never got one anyways, because they couldn’t afford it when I was younger.
L: I can see myself in that too. I don’t think my parents thought it was… super important to buy dobber jeans with Indians on the pockets, cause you were supposed to have that in Skövde where I’m from.
C: Wow, you have to google a picture later cause it sounds interesting, but I don’t even know what dobber jeans is.
L: Or you were supposed to have Lyle Scott shirts with an eagle. No, I didn’t get that either. I had different stuff. Bergis jeans for example. Or silver dollar jeans.
C: Oh, you gotta google a picture of this as well.
L: You don’t even want to see. But how did it turn out for you? Cause one part of me was different and I dared to be different. But there was also a part of me that felt that I really wanted to belong, why can’t I join this? I didn’t get bullied or anything, but I felt like “where am I supposed to be in all of this?” Did you go your own way? Did people see you as weird?
C: Actually, until I became a grown up, or High School age, I was free from anxiety. I was positive. Still philosophic and thinking and analyzing, but I’ve had a lot of positivity and energy and been outgoing. I’ve found it easy to find connections. But I have probably also felt a bit alone. But that’s a feeling I’ve been getting more as I grew older and started to feel more that things didn’t go as planned or the way that others managed to do it. I don’t know.
But the thing I was gonna say about the circle that closed is that it was interesting because I went to my therapist during the fall a year ago… (even before and after), but we talked about this 6-7 year old cause I told them that I found that picture and that it touched me. And we figured out that this child is the source in me, the creative source and she needs to be free to he happy and able to be creative. When the child inside of me doesn’t get to – when those limits are crossed, that’s when I don’t feel well and I can’t perform.
We talked about the fact that my only task as Cornelia 30 years old is to let Cornelia 6 years old be who she wants to be and be free on the inside, and nobody gets to cross those limits. About a month before Mello, I found a ring by coincidence in a box. It was the first ring I ever bought, and it was when I was 6 or 7 years old in the Old Town and it started my obsession with jewelry, I’ve always loved to express myself with – oh now I don’t have…
L: You don’t have a single ring.
C: No. That’s because I got up at 5am and I couldn’t think clearly.
L: But anyways, that ring?
C: That ring, I was absolutely positive that the ring was magic when I got it. It was a big green glass stone. I loved to watch The Glassblower’s Children… have you seen that movie? It’s magical. And she has a raven ring, and it doesn’t look like my ring at all, but I was certain that it was the same type of magic. And I got nostalgic when I found it and tried it on. It still fit one finger.
L: The pinkie?
C: No, the left ring finger. And I had already designed my show number for Mello and I had this big green dot. Just like this ring, so I was like right… I do this for that six-years-old. I wore the ring throughout the entire Mello and Eurovision. It was like a circle that closed.
L: As a reminder?
C: Exactly, I came back to that child and the origin power, joy and the wish to be free and get to use her voice.
L: The song Rise, what does that mean for you?
C: Euhm, it means a lot… Gosh, you were spot on with that question. It was like an arrow straight through my heart. It means a lot, because it is about that first spark of light that you see if you’re lucky, but for me, the first spark of light when I had been in this exhaustion depression, it took many years to get back up from and, and you never get fully back up. You still gotta aim towards the light and remind yourself that… When I first felt that it started to get brighter, the cool thing with that first spark after you’ve been in the dark for so long, is that your eyes are used to night vision. You only need a small spark to get that blinding effect and get a sensation of ease after feeling a lot of weight for a long time. And we wrote about that, me and Isa. Isa, my best friend since 16-17 years back. We wrote this the day before we met David and wrote “Hold Me Closer”, last summer.
L: So this came first?
C: Yeah, we wrote it the day before, so we chose between this and “Hold Me Closer” when we were gonna send it in [for Melodifestivalen].
C: The funny thing about writing music is that with time, things may come to mean more or get more dimensions. And at the time I wrote [“Rise“] from a light and “Nice, I’ve come out from this dark place“ and later I’ve been able to identify myself in it in different ways during this summer and spring … especially during the summer. It’s been really intense and I needed to get to know myself again in a lot of different ways and that always take time. And if the schedule is packed, you can hit a few walls and I’ve definitely gone up and down with exhaustion during this time. It’s a line in the second verse: In a battle against the time, I’ve been giving my best to everybody but me… It was powerful already when we wrote it, but now after these 8-9 months, I felt it even more. That I’ve been giving a lot from energy that hasn’t excised and that I’ve felt that the six-year-old inside needs to rest.
L: You know what? When you said that line, I got this image of this six-year-old who was standing an waving like hello, what about me?
L: That was exactly what popped up.
C: Exactly. That was kind of how I felt as well. So yeah… It’s really powerful for me. But it will turn out fine. It feels bright. Cause after this week I am getting to rest. I will take care of this six year old and give her space to feel and do what she wants.
L: It’s nice to see that you get this touched. I got touched as well. I’ll tell you something, I’ve also had an exhaustion depression. Many years ago.
C: Really? Tell me more, how come?
L: I think that I had pushed a lot aside about who I was and who I wasn’t and I kept put it aside and eventually everything gets back to you. You can’t do that. But what I’ve felt in retrospect is that I didn’t know that you could feel this bad. Cause when you’re in the middle of it, it’s unbearable. It’s hardly possible to describe it to someone who hasn’t felt like that. It’s bottomless. I had an image of a blind alley where I lived, and I knew that if I go there, I’ll fall into the mire, cause the ground is only mire, you know. You get a lot of fantasies.
C: Yeah, many scary thoughts and obsessions, and what’s difficult is that you aren’t prepared for that kind of slap in the face. When you’re there, there’s a lot of circles on water of anxiety that gives anxiety that gives anxiety. And it gets heavier because you can feel, shit, you’re just a spoiled brat, your life is good, why are you feeling like this? And you start to not recognize yourself. In my case I felt like I didn’t like myself anymore when I couldn’t perform and it was hard, ‘cause I’ve always been thinking that I have a good confidence and then I was like no. I haven’t. It’s only when I perform and otherwise, I think I’m worthless, and then that makes you sad and it becomes a downward spiral.
L: And now we’re there, self esteem vs. self-confidence. I’m never as safe as when I’m sitting like I’m sitting with you now. But now you’re a bit special so I could probably talk to you outside a studio [and talk like this]. I’m actually pretty shy.
C: Aha? Okay…
L: But feel safe when I do my job. Cause then I know that I have my place, just like you. You know that when you’re on stage you have a place. Maybe it’s harder outside of the stage? At least it is for me. I have a hard time to grasp that I have a place as well.
C: Yeah… Right… Right.
L: Now I floated away…
C: I understand exactly what you mean. It’s a context and everything is relative to different aspects.
L: Well, I heard that you’re actually a witch? I am not.
C: Are you sure?
L: No, I’m not.
C: You can never be too sure.
L: Maybe not.
C: That’s what I’m trying to say, what if we are all witches? No, kidding.
L: It’s almost Halloween.
C: I could imagine you’re a with.
L: Really, in what way?
C: I think for me it’s about being close to your source. You’re close to yourself. I think we hold a lot of power if you just connect to it and have access to it. And I say this jokingly, it’s not that I think we are witches flying around on brooms. But I like to think that there are witches out there cause it makes the world seem like a funnier place.
L: Totally. I read that you described your music as dynamic, emotional live music. That’s also a description… that I like.
C: Nice! I love to make music and then it’s super hard to talk about myself and present the songs and it’s like “you have to write a biography” and I’m like oh no. I think I wrote that for my first single. Like “You have to say something about your single” and I was like Gosh, does everything need to fall into a category?
L: I found a song called “Fine”, that I hadn’t heard. I liked that. And it was an interesting video. Speaking about… Well, not witches.. But still… It was really… Explain, where did you film?
C: It’s a cool place, right? Me and Celia Caap has been making all of my music videos. She’s one of my closest friends, and we still work a lot together, we’ve been working together for about five years. She had been at this place at Österlen [place in southern Sweden] called Kivik’s Art Center. She had been there with her boyfriend at the time, and been completely blown away by these monuments in nature, that are incredible.
So she called me and said “we have to do something here”. And I had just finished this song, that by the way, was the first song I’d managed to write after the exhaustion. It meant a lot for that reason. I emailed them. It was during the pandemic, and I said “Hi, I’m independent and have no money, but can we borrow or rent it cheap? And they were super nice and let us film this music video. And Celia is a choreographer, so she choreographed these sequences.
L: It baffles me with this song, cause suddenly you start singing in Swedish at the end. What happened?
C: It was a dream, actually. The different parts weren’t put together at first. I had a dream when my family were I New York and I dreamed about a Lord Of The Rings kind of – you see what a fantasy nerd I am. Anyways, I was standing with my people, whoever those people were, and at dusk, there were someone that was gonna come, I don’t know if it was Orcs or whatever, over a hill, so we had some kind of last dinner together. There was a man there , that was my man, but he didn’t have a face so I don’t know who he was. And I was gonna sing a song, cause that was my task this last evening, and we sat there and I started to sing.
L: In the dream?
C: Yes, still in the dream. And I started to sing this part. There was another part as well, and I know that I thought in the dream that “Oh, this is nice. I need to remember this. I am dreaming now, ok I have to wake myself and remember this”. You know how hard it is to remember dreams. I have dreamed things before, like this is the best song I’ve ever written, and then it’s like ok, it’s a shame that that is gone now.
So I managed to wake myself up and walk out with a blindfold to the balcony to not wake the rest of the family up, cause we were all sleeping in the same room, and I knew that if I take off the blindfold I’m going to lose the dream. I tried to find my phone and get out on the balcony. The thing was that my mom was awake and thought I was sleepwalking and was terrified because I was headed towards the balcony in New York, that’s a lot of stories. So, you can hear in my recording that I’m all of the sudden is like “Aaagh!” terrified when mom is coming. And like “No, no, no, Go away!” Nothing is allowed to interrupt, I just need to record this.
So, I recorded it and a few months later I felt like it would be a nice stick in the song that I was writing, and I tried to write English lyrics, since the rest of the song was in English. But it’s funny with some melodies, cause it didn’t work. I tried to write English lyrics, but it was a Swedish melody. It was sung in Swedish, and it had to be in Swedish. Eventually I gave up on the English lyrics and thought what the heck, it’ll have to be in Swedish.
L: Of course.
C: Yeah. Of course.
L: But it’ll just have to be that way then. You can’t just force it.
L: How are you seeing the future? You’re in a business where a lot is asked from you. Is it a good thing that you had your independent years? Is it a good thing that you have a dad that is in the business? Is it a good thing that you hit the wall once and know that the six-year-old needs to follow along, or what do you think?
C: I want to say yes to all of that. I’m happy… Lotta, I’m so happy that I’m 30 and not 20. Because it’s such a unique business as we just said, and it’s really easy to lose yourself when you get into something where a lot of people suddenly from one day to another, wants a lot of things from you. They want you to appear in one way or another, like “can you do this or can you do that”, and suddenly you’ve done everything that everyone else wants, but not the thing that you want, and you feel like, who did I become now? That’s how I felt with Love Generation, like this didn’t feel great in my stomach. I didn’t feel like I was myself, but more like I just pleased everyone around, so I was very careful with this for Mello that I need to do this for myself, and keep myself intact, and I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that even a year earlier, cause I had worked with myself a lot that last year and even before that.
L: Are you done with that now?
C: Gosh, no. Do you get done? Do you feel like you’re done?
C: No, I think there’s always more to explore and understand if you want to understand.
L: How is your fall gonna be?
C: It’s a little bit of vacation first. It’ll be nice, I haven’t had that in years.
L: Here or there?
C: I’m gonna have to start at home, cause my home has totally collapsed. I need to start with taking care of my temple so that I can feel good there. After that I’ll probably – I’m gonna do some business gig in Hawaii, it seems like. So I’m thinking that I’ll go there a while earlier and hang there.
L: Business gig in Hawaii is fun.
C: Yeah, that’s a luxury.
L: Have you been there before?
C: Yes, actually I have.
L: How come?
C: I worked at a company called Ciceron, that makes trips and parties and events and stuff for different companies.
L: What did you do there? Sing?
C: I did that as well, but I started as a travel guide, or I did a little bit of everything.
L: You can say cicero.
C: Exactly, cicero, that’s what they said. And when we were in Hawaii, one of my tasks was to bring a group to swim with wild dolphins, so that was a pretty nice job. Sometimes. And at times it could be super difficult and hard, but I am so grateful, and I have a lot of memories to thank them for. It’s been powerful and a cool extra job.
L: So now you’re going there.
C: Yes, and after that it’s depending if I have the energy to start immediately, or if I need another week or two to stare into the wall, but after that I’m locking myself into the studio to finish my album. I have a lot of unfinished songs, since I’m good at starting writing songs, and not finish them. I’ll try to finish it, and lock myself in this winter. Cause I need it to be able to be creative, I can’t be two people at once.
L: But, you have traveled through Europe now as well? What are your plans, is it to be in Sweden, or are you thinking Europe, or do you think even further?
C: Hm, what am I thinking? I think I’ve come to a place where I will do my thing and make sure to keep writing from six-year-old Cornelia. Try not to get too affected by all the expectations, and then we’ll see. I have faith and at the same time I know nothing, so I’ll simply start there. It’s also that you must come back to – to tour equals no routines whatsoever. And I’m not a routine person, never have been, but somehow you need to figure out, who am I when the touring is over? What do I eat? What do I usually think about?
L: What do you eat? Are you a vegetarian?
C: Yes. Are you?
L: Nope, but I try to eat vegetarian food a few times a week.
C: That’s great. If everyone thought like that it would be great. For the environment and stuff. But… What was I saying?
L: It was about routines and no routines and coming back and try to figure out what works.
C: Exactly. And start exercising again, cause it’s something that I need to feel well, mentally. Yeah, I don’t know… Try to find your way back to yourself when you’re not an entertainer or someone who’s supposed to give all the time, but rather getting back to the source.
L: But your love life is going well still?
C: The love life is going well. But both of us are tired. He’s been following throughout the entire tour. He’s the kapellmeister on the tour. It’s been a lot, we also produced “Rise” together, just like we produced “Hold Me Closer”. And both of us are detail freaks and love our job and have a hard time to stop working. Which in a way is the reason why we have been able to be together during a period like this.
L: But now you’re gonna have some time off together?
C: Exactly, what will happen now?
C: Yes, super exciting. To be continued.
L: Well, it feels like we could sit here the entire day.
C: Yes, totally.
L: It was nice to finally have you here, it was fun to meet you again, even though we’ve met before, even though we haven’t.
C: We met in an earlier life, perhaps.
L: That’s possible.
C: We were witches.
L: Or in the future. Maybe there’s several dimensions at the same time, we never know.
C: You might be onto something.
L: The Spinoza theory.
L: Cornelia Jakobs, a huge thank you for coming to Halv Tre.
C: Huge thank you, Lotta, it’s been really fun.
L: Thanks for now!
C: Thanks for now!