Vendela talks new single ‘Dead or Something’ and creating her “demon” persona

“Music is like a best friend who’s always there with a shoulder for you to cry on,” Vendela says of the force behind her artistry. 

Brooding piano and reflections on apathy defined Dead or Something, the captivating latest single from Scandinavian artist Vendela.

Brimming with atmospheric synths and glitchy production, the stirring ballad sees Vendela question her propensity for love, with soul-baring mentions of being unable to “catch a feeling.” 

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

Fresh off the release of the single, we caught up with Vendela for a deep dive into Dead or Something, her recording process in a homemade “pillow studio,” and experiencing “first degree frostbite” while shooting music videos.

Catch our full interview with Vendela below, and scroll down to listen to her new single Dead or Something. 

HAPPY: What are you up to today?

VENDELA: Well, being a vampire and all (chuckles), I woke up at 5am as usual. Did my little coffin yoga and hit the gym. The rest of the day was dedicated to the project.

There’s a lot to do with the new release. I’m trying to find my Little Demons (my audience), or help them find me on social media. I guess that job is never over, really.

Other than that, me and Francisco (my co-writer, producer, other half of the project) are constantly trying to perfect our art and come up with new songs, themes and ideas for future projects.

It’s so much fun being an independent artist! You basically have multiple jobs where you get to push yourself and learn new things every day. “We need to figure out how to make a website. Sure thing, I’ll do some research!”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard and frustrating at times, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it.

Vendela 'Dead or Something' single interview

HAPPY: What does a typical day look like when recording a song like Dead or Something?

VENDELA: Since we’re artists on the move we’re not too keen on traditional studios. I’ve always felt a bit like a zoo animal stuck inside those vocal recording rooms with the big glass window where people just stare at me.

Instead, before any recording session we build a pillow-studio-fortress using anything we can find at the spot. We’ve dismantled sofas to use along with mattresses, blankets, drapes, clothes and of course pillows.

After the ‘pillow-studio’ is set up the recording can begin. I’ll do some warm-ups and we go at it. 

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

HAPPY: The single explores ideas of apathy and being unfeeling. How did you get the inspiration for these themes?

VENDELA: We wanted to see what was beyond sadness. Past depression, into the avenues of numbness and all the void that runs through them. Surrendering to that. It’s quite a gloomy sentiment… Worse than sadness, I believe.

And unfortunately more and more people go through this. Of course, all our music is a reflection of some part of us, whether big or small, and even though me and Francisco are generally ‘happy people’, we wrote it based on our personal experiences.

I think music and art have a responsibility to express the human condition in a vulnerable way, so that people can resonate with it and feel seen and heard. That by itself can be healing.

Music is like a best friend who’s always there with a shoulder for you to cry on. You think you’re listening to music, but really it’s the music who is listening to you. 

HAPPY: The music video is awesome! Can you tell us a little bit about how that shoot went?

VENDELA: Horrible pain and first degree frostbite aside, the shoot went incredibly well! We shot for four days during which the temperature was as low as -24°C.

Even though we always knew we wanted to shoot in snow, the extreme weather did bring some unforeseen obstacles.

Unshoveled roads made us walk for about 20 minutes to get to each location, sometimes in knee-deep snow, carrying camera equipment and things to try and stay warm. I had done some research beforehand on how to keep myself alive in between takes.

We brought hot water bottles, heat pads and blankets but when it’s that cold you can’t really get warm again, at least not in a matter of minutes.

Each day after shooting I drove home with two frozen feet I could hardly feel, but hey!, we survived and we couldn’t be happier with the result.

Especially since it was just 3 of us: me, Francisco and Johnny Disorder, our crazy friend who said yes to filming our crazy idea.

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

HAPPY: How important are visuals — including cover art, press shoots and music videos — for your overall artistry?

VENDELA: The visuals are an extension of the music. They are part of the art and therefore bring a lot to the final product. It’s like a really good dish where every flavor compliments each other, working for the overall bestest taste possible.

Each flavor by itself would have been good, but together they make the end product fly to new heights. In artistry the different outlets also help tell different parts of the story, so that you can understand it on deeper or complementary levels. 

HAPPY: Do you think creating a persona, like your “femme fatale” and “Transylvanian blood” descriptions, is an important aspect of your music?

VENDELA: Definitely. Fun fact: I do really have Transylvanian blood, as my father was born and grew up in Transylvania. But the fun thing with this project is that Vendela is somewhat of a character living inside me. A demon.

My dark side and worst thoughts. Me personally, I’m a sweetheart! I like picnics and reading old novels and making birthday cakes for my cats… Vendela would definitely say ‘ugh’ and roll her eyes at me (chuckles).

She’s a bitch. But I love her. So yeah, I think it’s important to let people know right off the bat what makes you as an artist different from the rest.

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

HAPPY: Anything else exciting on the horizon you can tease for us?

VENDELA: 2024 will be filled with new exciting music.

In our three years of working together, me and Franco (Frankelini, Francisco… I have many names for him) have put together a bunch of songs that are waiting to be produced, rewritten or just released.

Next in our lineup is our coming EP, which will contain our already released singles plus a new song. But to be honest, we never really know what’s coming next.

We’re kinda just following this demon (Vendela)’s wishes. Plans change fast and we adapt as we go. That’s one of the perks of being independent, we don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves.  

Vendela single 'Dead or Something' interview

HAPPY: What makes you happy?

VENDELA: Only knowing me through my artist persona, you’d probably be shocked at this response.

But what truly makes me happy is spending time in the countryside with my family and chilling at home with my boyfriend and our three babies Alva, Lukas and Kasper (btw they’re cats).

Second to that is being creative in all forms: making music, singing, sewing and making my own clothes, doing diy projects at home or painting. It soothes my soul.

About seven months ago I also started working at a cat shelter which brings me a lot of happiness (and cuddles). It really is the best thing ever.

But yeah basically living a “slow life”, surrounding myself with loved ones, animals and nature. So yeah, all that and human blood, of course (makes evil grin).