If you imagine international pop music as a landscape, you may well envision an idealised California – sunny skies, palm trees swaying in the wind, the warm glow of Coachella at night. What you may not immediately picture is Sweden, a country which for long stretches of the year is buried under the kind of brutal, snow drenched winter that black metal bands live for. But the Scandinavian nation has an outsized influence on global popular music. Abba is one of the biggest selling bands of all time, while contemporary super-producer Max Martin has written a gargantuan 22 Billboard number-one hits! And that’s not even taking into account its substantial contributions to electronic and heavy metal music.
A flourishing live music scene, and generous public culture funding, also allows all kinds of interesting underground micro-genre scenes to proliferate. It’s against this backdrop that Filip Johnson aka Jelly Crystal has been releasing a stream of hypnotic music, which he describes as ‘‘glam pop”.
Johnson was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city and home to a big, university-centred live scene. As a young artist, he was inspired by psychedelic rock artists like Tame Impala, hazy memories of pop classics and the romantic allure of the nightlife. A few years ago, he began making bedroom recordings, raw songs to capture the swirling, hallucinogenic feel of a slalom of bars and after parties.
His skills on the bass guitar got him noticed in the capital city Stockholm, where he moved to, to play in the bands Vacation Forever and HOLY. Along with these collaborative projects he saved some money for recording and began releasing tracks under the moniker Jelly Crystal. “I named it after the disgusting jelly cake”.
In contrast to that dreaded concoction, Jelly Crystal’s music goes down smoothly. 2018’s single “Now Awake” has a Scott Walker torch song swoon, while new release “Beverly Hills” is a yacht rock fever dream. Complete with a Michael Mann influenced music video, it’s the first release from an upcoming album project. It promises to be an opulent feast for the ears.