Vendela unveils the “full demon” lore behind her dark-pop persona

With her latest single Dead or Something as evidence, it’s clear that Swedish musician Vendela revels in the dark parts of herself

In promotional materials for the single — a brooding, dark-pop reflection on apathy — Vendela described herself as a “vampire viking” with a penchant for showcasing her “evilest thoughts and dirtiest hopes.”  

This curation of a musical identity is intentional on Vendela’s part, a chance to reveal the darker, more sinister “character living inside me,” she explained in an interview with Happy Mag.

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

But just how does that darkness feed into her work? And how do musicians go about revealing — or concealing — the messier parts of themselves?

Below, Vendela stops by Happy to dissect her dark-pop persona, its influence on her artistry, and its siren call to “all our little demons.”

Catch Vendela’s full explanation of that lore with her collaborator Francisco below, and scroll down to listen to her new single Dead or Something.   

The Bright Side of the Dark

This might come as a surprise, but many people in the music industry will agree you’ll find the most kindness in the Metal community, meaning Metal band members, their crews and their fans.

Conversely, you’ll find the worst side of people in the pink fluffy throat-slashing back-stabbing Mainstream-Pop music industry (never really a sense of ‘community’ there). Somewhat of a paradox, right?

How is it that the most aggressive music is played and enjoyed by the most compassionate humans? Here’s why. These people are looking into the dark. They are acknowledging it.

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

Exploring this innate (and ultimately inevitable) part of our human experience. Respecting it. Becoming friends with it. Dancing with it.

NOT neglecting or hiding, or running away from it. NOT demonizing it. By doing this they begin to realize how darkness is what makes all light shine.

Darkness is fundamentally giving meaning to light. What do you think happens psychologically and physiologically when a metal band rehearses for 4 hours 4 times a week, screaming their lungs out, sweating and giving their all, together.

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

Surrendering to loud, powerful, distorted chords and big, heavy drums, eyes closed immersed in deep, dark, raging lyrics, connecting with their inner suffering and fears at the core of their humanness. How many months or even years of therapy do you think that equates to?

Same goes for the fans… Just by connecting with this inner turmoil and acknowledging it for parts of their day, then beaming back into normal life feeling heard and desaturated, they feel relieved of inner tensions.

Release instead of repression. A bit like how exercising is suffering, but it makes the rest of your day 10 times better. Vendela, as a project, is somewhat based on this paradigm.

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

It welcomes the dark thoughts we all have and has fun with them instead of taking them seriously.

Just accepting them for what they are: mere thoughts that we can either identify with and go crazy, or just acknowledge, play with and find ways of expressing them that actually make them interesting, valuable or just fun.

In this case, we give voice to a demon called Vendela, who has a human trapped inside her. It is the alchemy of turning something horrible into something beautiful. Suffering into art. Fear into art. Anxiety into art.

Not just gruesome art for the sake of being shocking, but something that has some kind of recognizable beauty, that rhymes with something we’ve all gone through.

When Vendela’s debut song and music video ’Komodo’ came out, the idea was to go full demon, at her rawest. It was the hatching of our project. We wanted to go as dark as possible, while maintaining a pop aesthetic.

There’s a human sacrifice in our music video, and a lot of blood (which makes the video virtually impossible to promote on most mainstream platforms).

The sacrifice in the video is metaphorical, and not just a gratuitous murder. It’s the killing of a golden man in a suit, somewhat symbolizing modern-day patriarchal over-consumeristic corrupted capitalism.

So, in a way, it’s hinting at the demon having healthy internal values and thus justifying the act. That music video had a crew of 30+ amazing people and was a dream come true for the project.

However… it’s not that we overspent on this music video – as we felt the project needed something high quality to showcase Vendela’s potential – but very quickly we understood we would have to start spending our finances differently, or we’d go bankrupt before we even got the ball rolling.

The cool thing is that no matter the plans made for this demon called Vendela, the project has a will of its own, and continuously shows us where it wants to go.

We’re continuously trying to catch up and adapting our strategy and we don’t even know what’s going to happen next. The ‘Haunted Quartet’ version of ‘Komodo’ was perhaps the first time this happened.

Like ‘Oh shit, that’s so cool, we really need to do it’. That feeling also permeates the project… the feeling of “aaaah I love this idea, let’s make it happen or die trying!”.

Our second single ‘Attaboy’ also came unexpectedly. It was the merging of an older idea we’d had with some instrumental vibe we were working on at the time.

We wanted to write a song about female domination over men. You know, switch it up a bit… It’s not really about women vs men, it’s more about when someone is someone else’s little bitch, or is so dependent or idolizing of the other person.

It’s honestly sad, like “Get a grip, human! You’re your own person!”. That with an extra pinch of Vendela’s psycho powder, of course.

Anyway, at that time we were in Portugal between vocal recordings and photoshoots, and on the last day something got canceled so we had nothing specific planned.

We were exhausted and decided to have a day-off for once, and started saying what a pity it was that we hadn’t been able to summon a music video for that song.

No time, and no budget allocated for that… Then we thought: ‘why not try to shoot something with our smartphone in the hotel room? Perhaps using some neon lights and who knows… maybe it’ll work’.

So we did just that. We must have shot for 6-8 hours straight, turning the hotel room upside down, beds up the wall, doing our best not knowing how it would actually come out.

Parallelly, we’d also been eyeing the AI development on the horizon, and praying that video generating technology would evolve fast enough to be usable for this video, as to add something to it.

And holy shit, did it really come in time! We’re pretty sure ‘Attaboy’ is one of the first music videos to use AI in that specific way. We got weird and trypophobic with the video and loved how refreshing it all felt, so we just went with it.

Then came ‘Hell, Yeah’. That song had been sitting in our drawer for about a year under another name, and had a very different chorus, pre-chorus and post.

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

We loved the vibe in the verses but the other parts weren’t exciting enough for us. So we changed it into what it is now and thought ’This is perfect for Halloween!’, and got at it to make it happen.

The song was fun and evil at the same time, which we thought could lighten up the mood from our previous releases and show a lighter side of Vendela.

Fun fact: the lyrics are actually an analogy to what happens at any given club that’s still pumping at 6 in the morning, when lust and ‘bad’ intentions creep in, people turn into horny zombies and all hell breaks loose… “Welcome to Hell, Yeah”.

For the music video, again, barely a budget. We had the idea to shoot it as a ghost hunting documentary turned mockumentary turned music video, and we wanted to shoot it in infra-red.

After a lot of research, we found the perfect camera at a second hand website for $100. We filmed the whole thing ourselves in Sweden with V and 2 of her brothers as her demons, and were lucky their uncle lent us his old classic Cadillac.

3 days of shooting that were both a lot of work and a lot of fun. Once again we tried promoting the video but Youtube said we couldn’t because we were making false claims that ghosts exist or something like that.

So it’s just there sitting at 1300 views. We’re getting used to this bullshit, but we’re not changing the art we feel like doing just to be able to market it. Art over money!

Now for our latest release, “Dead or Something”. This has been a very dear song to us for the last 3 years, so we’re extremely happy to finally put it out!

It’s about feeling so void and numb that you’d wish somebody hurt you just so you’d at least feel something. It’s our first slower song/ballad, and also the first time Vendela becomes this vulnerable and intimate with her ‘non-feelings’ (chuckles).

We’ve had this idea of shooting the music video in the snow, which as an idea sounded awesome. But to actually make it happen turned out to be a whole ordeal.

Vendela 'Dead or Something' single interview

We shot for 4 days at -20oC, between blizzards and first degree frostbites, trying to keep Vendela warm with blankets, hot water bottles and heat pads.

We’d usually have to drive quite a bit then walk for 20 minutes into the woods to the spot, at times knee-deep in the snow and carrying a bunch of material.

Moreover, as we wanted to show her numbness, we also decided Vendela would be walking and running in a light dress and… barefoot.

She’d need to lay in the snow at times long enough to get the shot. This is probably where we needed a crew of 30+ people, but had to do it with 3: the two of us plus our good friend Johnny Disorder, who filmed it.


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A post shared by VENDELA (@ugh.vendela)

Huge shoutout to him, he is nothing short of incredible. Another shoutout goes to Olga José, the artist responsible for making the realistic heart made out of silicone, which was made for our music video as we wouldn’t have an animal heart as an option.

So there it is, our lightful darkness unraveled and explained. It’s been really hard promoting the project for the reasons we’ve shared above, but somehow slowly our tribe is finding us and the views and plays are coming in.

More and more people are resonating and enjoying what we’re doing. Heck!, the queen Imogen Heap follows the project.


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A post shared by VENDELA (@ugh.vendela)

If that’s not a sign we’re doing something right, what is?! Ultimately, the fact is we’re honestly having a blast with all this, so good luck trying to stop it.

To all our little demons, we see you and we’re grateful to each and every one of you! To all our haters, we honestly love you. We get it when you call us ‘budget Doja Cat’ or ‘cheap version of Billie Eilish’.

Those are 2 incredibly cool artists and the truth is, being independent, we are indeed on a very tight budget, especially considering the market we’re trying to compete in.

We truly appreciate every ounce of feedback, even when it’s hurtful, as it’s pointing at something we can work on to make the project better. And the engagement is great… so keep at it!


V & Francisco