Sweden has always been a hotspot for bubbly, melodic fun: from Robyn and producer Max Martin to ABBA, The Cardigans and back again. But never before has the small Scandinavian country birthed such a uniquely magnetic, otherworldly pop creature as Zhala. A&R’s, take note: the former Lykke Li backup singer—who just last week debuted the far-out “Slippin’ Around,” her first and only single and video, via her YouTube channel—is a free agent. Considering she’s released one of the heaviest, trippiest tracks of the year, and did it all on her own with only the help of social media and a few friends’ recommendations, says quite a bit about how little risk the music industry is still willing to take on independent artists, even in a world where Sleigh Bells is being booked for Saturday Night Live and Gotye’s on Glee.
The video, which features the singer in tribal makeup and what appears to be Charles Manson’s beard around her neck, is the stuff of late-night art school experimentation, like Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart” under a Wiccan spell. With its wolf calls and slapping drum echoes, and elements of R&B and dance, the song itself is the perfect backdrop for a go-go dancing rave witch like Zhala to enter the pop sphere with. I speak to the Swedish-born startup on Interview here.