WORLD EXCLUSIVE: How Bono found Lykke Li

I couldn’t believe it when U2 released a complete album yesterday. I didn’t think they had the guts to “pull a Beyonce.” Yeah, there were rumors, but still. I figured we’d get an Apple ad and maybe a new song. That’s it. As the shock was wearing off, I remembered that I had an interview with Lykke Li coming up. The same Lykke Li who contributed vocals to a standout song on “Songs of Innocence,” called “The Troubles.” Serendipity!

Read the full Lykke Li feature here. But I realized I can’t sit on this either, because there’s a lot of hungry U2 fans who are waiting to devour any info they can get on the new album.

Lykke Li

Am I your first post-U2 album interview?

Yeah, you are. I didn’t even know they released it or anything. I was in physical therapy laying on my stomach on a bench getting my shoulder worked on, and my assistant came in and was like, “Hey, I’m sorry to bother you, but you have to answer me really fast. We have to put a quote up.” And I was like, “Whoa, it’s out?” You know what I mean? I didn’t even know if I was going to be on it (the album).

They didn’t tell you for sure that the song made the cut?

I had no idea. You do things, and you just don’t know what’s going on.

When was the song recorded?

I did it twice. First, I did it a year ago, or even further, maybe a year and a half ago, in L.A., and then I think they changed key. And then I did it again in London this summer.

Contributing to other people’s work, is there any less anxiety for you than writing your own?

Yeah, of course. It’s more like, “Hey, you want to come over and work on a song?” It’s like going over and having a cup of tea. It’s really interesting for me to get hired in that way as a singer, and two, it was crazy when I tried to do that song, it was not fully in my key, and I realized that I’m not a real backing singer. That’s actually a pretty hard job to do, backing up Bono. And he was like, “Come on, girl, you can do it!” Kind of like leading me, and I realized, it was very fun to be out of my comfort zone and try to actually deliver professionally.

How did this collaboration come about?

Oh, I don’t know. They asked me if I wanted to be on it, and Danger Mouse was doing it at the time. I like Danger Mouse, and U2 is like the biggest band in the world, so I thought, “Why not?”

Does the song hold any special meaning to you?

Of course. (When) I listened to it for the first time, and I really loved it. It think it’s very deep on an intuitional level. I can relate to the lyrics.


Watch this video I filmed in August. See her when she goes on tour.

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