Cuntrie’s debut EP ‘Scrapbooking’ offers a raw, emotional, and distinctive lens into the Swedish indie pop artist’s vulnerable inner sanctum.
Stream: ‘Scrapbooking’ – Cuntrie
It’s equally okay to explore your smallest feelings as it is to explore your deepest ones.
You never know what you’re going to end up making when you embark on any creative journey: Who knows what songs will spill out of you, or how they’ll fit together? Perhaps they’ll end up telling a story of love, or one of loss; maybe half of them aren’t ready to see the light of day, or they don’t fit right with one another, so they’re better off saving for a time. These questions and more plague countless artists as they struggle to find balance between the distinct acts of creating and sharing – two arms that couldn’t be more different from one another, and yet are expected of any artist hoping to “make it,” whether independently or otherwise.
For Cuntrie, the music just came to her – and it kept coming in wave after wave of inspiration, resulting in an EP that couldn’t ask for a better title: Out Friday, Cuntrie’s Scrapbooking offers a raw, emotional, and distinctive lens into the indie pop artist’s vulnerable inner sanctum.
Big guy with a good job
and not so shaky hands
You just want to be bad
That’s a solid argument
You are awful to your friends
and more awful to yourself
You don’t do anything about it
and it still holds up
– “Oh Boy,” Cuntri
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Cuntrie’s debut EP Scrapbooking, independently out everywhere January 24, 2020 via Swedish indie label Feverish. Unfiltered and unadulterated, Cuntrie is the solo project for Malmö, Sweden’s Ebba Gustafsson Ågren, who is perhaps best known as one-half of the Editor’s Pick and 2019 Artist to Watch Swedish duo Wy (their song “Softie” featured in our 2019 Songs of the Year), which she performs in alongside her husband Michel. Ågren introduced Cuntrie via an Atwood Magazine feature in late September; debuting with the song “The Singer,” Cuntrie unveiled herself as a dark, reflective musical endeavor lying somewhere on the subtler fringes of pop music. At the time, we wrote:
A hopeful embrace of intimacy aching with the pain of lost time, Cuntrie’s debut single “The Singer” finds the artist connecting as she does best on a raw, intimate, and stirring level of musicality. She sounds more liberated than ever before, and the result is a truly arresting work of art.
Ågren’s talent for blending the catchy and the fresh is alive and thriving on “The Singer,” but Scrapbooking isn’t a record full of bangers; rather, it’s a deep introspective dive into an assorted array of the artist’s memories, thoughts, and emotions. The EP’s ambient second single “Spider” dives into the artist’s childhood and “the sleeping problems I still struggle with to this day,” Ågren explains. “The song has become like a safety blanket for me, it makes my nightmares and the darkness seem much less scary.”
The record’s newest addition is a eulogy for the artist’s childhood pet, entitled “Hamster Cancer.” Moody and slow, the song gives Ågren the space she needs to grieve a loved animal who “went too soon,” a repetition achingly sung over a rising synths and falling keys.
Lastly, Cuntrie’s third and final EP single “Oh Boy” is disquietingly in-your-face, featuring a fat and meaty bass tone that transform from focal point to primary support as the song progresses and grows. In a moment of pure empathy, Ågren examines male fragility and sensitivity, asserting that men need as much emotional validation and support as everyone else. “Men don’t want to fight; they just want to cry, so let them cry,” she sings. “Oh Boy” closes out the EP with somber grace, leaving listeners to question gender stereotypes and the reasons we allow these roles to perpetuate within each generation.
In our introductory feature, Ågren described liking her striking name “because it’s cute and a little offensive at the same time.” The word “Cuntrie” automatically turns heads in her direction, but a single listen to her music shows Ebba Ågren to be even more provocative and cunning an artist than she is on paper. Her music is intimate and universal, fragile and daring.
“The EP is a collage of a lot of things,” Cuntrie tells Atwood Magazine. “The themes range from childhood nostalgia and nightmares, to fragile masculinity and dead hamsters. It’s a very honest record, even though some of the subjects may seem small and trivial. I often use trivial references to talk about bigger subjects when writing my songs. I like the balance between being playful and silly on one hand, and being very serious on another. Everything I write needs to be true, because I don’t like to lie.”
There you have it: Scrapbooking is an intimate, honest, and raw outpouring from Sweden’s deep countryside.
Stream Cuntrie’s debut EP exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and dive into both the record and Ågren’s curious mind in our feature interview!
I didn’t have any idea or plan about the outcome when I started; I just made things. And that’s the whole point of this project, for it to be free of rules.
Stream: ‘Scrapbooking’ – Cuntrie
A CONVERSATION WITH CUNTRIE
Atwood Magazine: To those who might be put off by your name the first time they hear it, what would you say to them?
Cuntrie: If someone doesn’t like my name it’s probably because they are jealous they didn’t think of it first.
For those who are just getting to know Cuntrie, how would you describe yourself as an artist?
Cuntrie: It’s a blown-up version of myself who is not afraid to go there.
What are the overarching stories and concepts of this debut EP for you?
Cuntrie: It ended up being a lot of songs about nostalgia, which wasn’t really my plan. It’s a subject I haven’t yet explored with my other project, Wy, so it all just came pouring out of me when I started. Of course there are other themes and stories scattered throughout the EP, like “Oh Boy,” which is about the expectations upon men when it comes to showing softer emotions.
What are you most proud of about your debut?
Cuntrie: The fact that I decided not to be scared and therefore ended up trying so many new things. I didn’t have any idea or plan about the outcome when I started; I just made things. And that’s the whole point of this project, for it to be free of rules.
What did you learn throughout the recording process? How do you feel you've grown as an individual through this process of creating Cuntrie, or rather this artistic identity?
Cuntrie: I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that not everything you create has to have the same level of seriousness or impact. You can make something you’re proud of without it having to be completely world-changing. It’s equally okay to explore your smallest feelings as it is to explore your deepest ones.
How old are these songs? When did the first Cuntrie song really take shape?
Cuntrie: I basically wrote all the songs during a few weeks in the beginning of summer last year. The first song I started on was Oh Boy, which used to be a dance track. I finished it last, turning it into more of a pop ballad. I like it much more that way. I think the riff in “The Singer” has been recorded since like spring last year, and I never did something with it until I started writing “Oh Boy” and realised these two songs were meant for another project than Wy.
You open the EP with single “Spider.” What does this song mean to you?
Cuntrie: “Spider” means a lot to me. It’s a deep dive into my childhood and the sleeping problems I still struggle with to this day. The song has become like a safety blanket for me, it makes my nightmares and the darkness seem much less scary.
Musically, who are your inspirations?
Cuntrie: So many! I’m very eclectic. For this EP I’ve been really inspired by Chairlift, Porches and Joji.
You describe your EP as a very honest record. Can you talk about what honesty in music looks like, to you?
Cuntrie: For me it’s hard to write about something that isn’t grounded in very personal thoughts and feelings. The words I write don’t mean anything to me unless they feel true to me. You often end up regretting the times when you don’t really act like yourself, and I think that’s a very important thing to keep in mind with all artistic expression.
“You are awful to your friends, and more awful to yourself,” you sing in “Oh Boy.” Can you dive deeper into this song?
Cuntrie: This line makes me so sad. But I think there’s a lot of truth to it when it comes to how men treat each other and themselves. I mean, most people are probably being too hard on themselves, but among men it’s like it’s not seen as a real problem. Men need to support each other more emotionally. I wish everyone would tell their male friends that they look pretty, smell good, and are valid as often as you would say it to women.
I wish everyone would tell their male friends that they look pretty, smell good, and are valid as often as you would say it to women.
“Hamster Cancer” features as the final unreleased song on your debut EP. How did you find yourself writing this song, and what went through your mind during this process?
Cuntrie: I wanted at least one song to have a very clear and simple concept. This is a dramatic song about a hamster’s premature death. It’s a basic story about loss, with the deeper meaning being that bad stuff will always happen to the best of people (or animals).
What can we expect from Cuntrie now that this EP is out? What are your goals for 2020: Is this the beginning of a longer project, or a one-off for you?
Cuntrie: I want to do more collabs. I have written a song with my label sister Elsa Carmona that I’m suuuper excited about. We will probably do some gigs together this spring. Otherwise I actually don’t know what the future is for Cuntrie. I know it will always be there for me when I want to create something apart from Wy.
Finally, what other artists are you listening to right now, and who would you recommend to our readers and listeners?
Cuntrie: Right now I’m listening a lot to Smidley and Devon Welsh which are both amazing solo projects from bands that I hold very dear (Foxing and Majical Cloudz).
Stream: ‘Scrapbooking’ – Cuntrie
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? © Ebba G. Ågren
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