Getting To Know... Nervous City Nervous Self

Following the enormous response to his much-loved debut album 'The Early Fears' last year, Swedish artist Nervous City Nervous Self has now returned for 2024 with his immersive comeback single 'Act V'.

Harnessing more of that warm and ethereal aesthetic he has been developing over the years, 'Act V' makes for a rousing return to form throughout. With its rich and illuminating textures, shining atmosphere, and his own mesmerising vocals at the helm, he is returning to the fold with one of his most captivating cuts to date here.

So with the new single available to stream now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and what has been inspiring him most lately.


What was the first instrument you fell in love with?

My love affair with music was always one sided. I fell in love with singing early on but I was ditched and left with my aching heart all alone. Then I started hitting on the guitar that I got as a gift from my parents in my early teens, and although it never abandoned me it has been a rough 25 years, like any relationship, but we still get along somehow, although I could never shake off the feeling that my guitar deep inside is dreaming of another partner.

What kind of music did you love when you were younger?

Pearl Jam got me into music as a teenager, from there on the rest of the grunge scene and then backwards in time to the 60's, a lot of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell. And then one day, actually in a kibbutz in Israel, I was introduced to Leonard Cohen. Who is the one and only for me. Other important artists have been Ryan Adams, Rufus Wainwright and Cat Power. To name a few. Also Swedish legend Thåström.

What was the first album you remember owning?

I wonder if it could have been Vitalogy with Pearl Jam. It had a huge booklet with lots of fascinating texts from an old medical book, paired with the lyrics for the album and photos etc. I remember I had to ask my father about certain words etc. because my English was not so good. The album booklet was sort of formed as a magical world to enter, and discovering music at that early age also felt like opening a magical door to an alternative reality where things are real as they should be, far away from the fakeness of reality.

What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?

Could it be any other song than Hallelujah?

Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?

The writing is such an integral part of my life that it pretty much happens by itself. There are so many songs floating around, the trick is to finish them, make them complete. Usually I try to be observant when something new comes, and try to record it, or write it down, might just be a few words connected to a melody or so, and it is often connected to a life story, something that wants to be expressed. And then that´s the seed of the song that then just needs to be carved out until it reaches it´s supposed destination.

Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?

I´m very boring in the sense that I don't explore the music world as much as I should as a listener. I very much tend to stick with the heroes I mentioned before. Which is also quite nice and comforting when you try to be a musician yourself, and you go back - at different ages and stages of life - and listen to the voices of the people who influenced you the most. There is something comforting with having these voices walk you through life. And the other night I watched a documentary about Swedish composer Georg Riedel, who recently passed away, which gave some insight and inspiration on how to let the music be a vital and life-affirming part of our lives.

If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?

I think it would be Swedish icon Thåström, I've been a fan throughout my life, and somehow relate on a personal level to his lyrics, perspective and expression. There is a romantic life-perspective in his songs, covered by dark and rough but shimmering surface, and beyond that an expression of a (be)longing to the world, beyond the local - fitting for a nomad like myself.

What do you find is the most rewarding part about being a musician?

It is incredibly meaningful – and lets be honest; fun! – and it turns life into a process of constant evaluation and re-evaluation. Every process of life and every step has a writing perspective to it. And my form of writing tends to be in the shape of a song. Some parts of it can be a curse at times, that one perhaps writes more about life than lives it, that one becomes a spectator. But at the end of the day I´m very grateful for it, and wouldn’t want it any other way.

And what is the most frustrating part?

The most frustrating part is that it takes so long to do something that is, at best, decent. It's hard to be satisfied, for me, with what I create.

And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?

The advice lies in the songs - life is a whole other field. So why not take an advice from those who knows:

”Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in”

One might notice the irony of Leonard Cohen´s praise of human shortcoming and imperfection is set in a stanza that itself is very close to perfection. I guess in art we can transcend life and achieve those little miracles that we perhaps shouldn’t strive for in life.


Nervous City Nervous Self's new single 'Act V' is available to stream now. Check it out in the player below.