• photography Lucia Garcia

    A interview with Minke about working towards success

    Written by Emelie Bodén by Emelie Bodén

    The UK-born singer, songwriter Minke is now based in LA. After a successful debut in 2019 with her Album “The Tearoom” she got her recognition as an artist and became a darling in the indie-pop scene. With the support from various people and companies she was ready for a breakthrough. But then with Covid-19 more obstacles and life changing events appeared. It became a time for healing and now she has just released her new single “Happier Than Me” on May 10, 2024. In the single she is seen playing piano for the first time and baring her soul in the usual emotionally honest fashion we’ve come to expect.

    Has navigating the music industry as an openly queer artist presented any challenges?
    Nothing too crazy so far that I’m aware of! I mean there’s the occasional hateful comment but that’s just the internet. It’s only been this release I’ve presented in my work as openly queer so we’ll see but I do feel like finally there’s been a shift in acceptance, even from when I was last releasing music in 2019. And I wasn’t out then in my life in the way that I am now so it would be disingenuous to not address it at this point.

    How have these experiences shaped your journey, and what impact do you hope it has on the music community?
    I’ve been inspired by so many other artists who are out singing and sharing their truth, so I’m just excited to represent and share mine.

    On May 10th, you released your new single Happier Than Me, Could you explain the background and inspiration behind this song? What is the background of this song and what was your thought process while making it?
    We were working on another song that whole day. It hit 5pm and we had a break and Dan just started playing these chords. Then we wrote the song in an hour, it came so easily. Especially living in LA, it feels like everyone’s always living their perfect lives but that’s not really the case.

    What personal significance does your new single 'Happier Than Me' hold for you, especially in the context of the challenging years marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and other hardships?
    I was in such a whirlwind by the end of 2019 having the best time. I’d just settled into LA, out at shows every night, making new friends, my career was going well. But I probably wasn’t practising a lot of self care and looking back on it, still had some demons to wrestle with. Covid was really helpful in forcing me to be introspective. The line ‘parents still alive and still together holy shit that’s rare’ doesn’t apply anymore but I didn’t want to change anything as it was such an honest expression and I like it as a timestamp of that part of my life.

    At this stage in your life, do you feel a sense of healing from past challenges, or do you find yourself still on the journey toward recovery and self-improvement?
    I definitely do feel a sense of healing. At times in the past few years my life felt like a horror movie so growing from all those experiences has made me wiser and more appreciative of the happier times I find. It’s a never ending journey though and I’m a very curious human so I’m always on the lookout for ways to expand my horizons.

    Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for the future of your music career? Are there any new directions or projects you're particularly excited about pursuing?
    The next single is unlike anything I’ve released before and the songs for the rest of the year all show different sides of me and who I am now, I can’t wait for them to be out in the world!

    Link to spotify and new single “Happier Than Me” here!

    photography Lucia Garcia
    photography Lucia Garcia
  • photography Sandra Myhrberg

    makeup & hair Alicia Hurst

    Psychedelio in The Den of Wolves, 2024

    Issa Salliander and Den Of Wolves

    Written by Rosel Jackson Stern by Sandra Myhrberg

    The game development company 10 Chambers has partnered with Mexico-based Swedish artist Issa Salander to create new work for their upcoming title Den Of Wolves. Issa has produced a series of physical paintings to inspire the game in a collaboration between fine art and digital world-building. The paintings feature a series of character masks, some of which will be featured in the game Den Of Wolves. The idea is to honour the physical craft of storytelling with game development. This is the company's first of many collaborations with creatives ranging from dancers to choreographers and fashion designers.
    Odalisque caught up with Issa this Wednesday at Ericssonhallen in Stockholm, where her work is installed 8-9th of May.

    Rosel: What has been the process of developing these images? Where do you get inspiration from?
    Issa: I’ve grown up in many different places. Right now I’m in Mexico and spent a total of 12 years there. It’s a beautiful and surreal place, full of contradiction. The contrast between light and dark, good and evil is an important part of what inspires me. I like to create work that lies in the spectrum between what society considers opposites to each other.
    I start by creating a digital collage for each painting so that the piece has a frame of reference. One piece features the hair of Andy Warhol, a Second World War gas mask with a gold-plated mask underneath.

    R: You come from a fine art background. What appealed to you about collaborating with a gaming company?
    I: I enjoy a challenge and the chance to develop my practice. This project was an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. In fine art, we talk about the artist, the work, and the viewer. With this project, there’s a fourth actor: the user. That’s a novel concept for me and I want to incorporate new experiences and points of view in my work.
    I was never interested in AI art. When I was approached with this idea, it felt like a push beyond the limitations of AI; I got to make the work I wanted and have it introduced into a digital world by extremely talented artists. It’s incredibly exciting.

    R: What’s it like to hand over your work to be interpreted by others, in this case, game designers?
    I: It’s nerve-racking but deeply inspiring. Game designers are artists and they possess skills that I admire. I’ve always loved gaming aesthetics so this project felt like a no-brainer. 10 Chambers has given me the space to come up with my vision and total creative freedom.

    R: What do you hope fellow artists can take away from this project?
    I: I hope it broadens their horizons to what commercial partnerships can look like. I hope companies invest in artists while giving them the freedom to create. Partnerships like this can open up your work to a new audience and the opportunity to play in their world. 10 Chambers have been generous enough to surrender artistic control to be inspired. That’s how we end up with something beautiful.

    Den Of Wolves does not yet have a release date.

    Psychedelio in The Den of Wolves, 2024
    Writ of Detinue on The Den of Wolves, 2024
    photography Sandra Myhrberg

    makeup & hair Alicia Hurst

    Spiel mit Mir in the Den of Wolves, 2024
  • photography Sandra Myhrberg

    “It’s Our Time to Be Nurtured”: How Mia Bonhomme Is Creating a Haven for Black Women in Stockholm

    Written by Rosel Jackson Stern by Emelie Bodén

    In 2020, Mia Bonhomme took a chance. She rented a yoga studio in Stockholm at the height of the pandemic and 12 Black women, who didn’t know each other, showed up. As they dropped in, each person was greeted with the bright smiles and warm familiarity of seeing a long-lost cousin. “Oh, do y’all know each other?” Mia asked one of the participants. “No, we don’t, we’re just happy to see each other” they replied. This is when Mia knew she had stumbled upon something special. “All I wanted was for a Black girl to walk into a room and five other Black girls to say: ‘Hey!’ It’s something we do without thinking back home”, she explains, “I didn’t know how much it fed my soul until it stopped happening to me.”

    This sense of connection, of kindred spirits, of community, is inherent to Mia’s origins in Mobile, Alabama. She grew up in all Black communities and the gifts therein. “It’s the feeling of being seen and immediately identified. There is safety in that” she reflects in a dingy but delicious sushi restaurant in Stockholm. Having moved here in 2018, Mia struggled to feel like she belonged in a culture so far from where she came from. “In the States, when you see another Black person, you always give them the nod,” Mia explains, “You throw positive energy their way.”

    Upon arriving in Sweden, she quickly realised she was a far cry from her home town. “People would always tell me that Black people [in Sweden] don’t really get together like that” Mia explains when recounting her experience. When she would walk down the street, see a fellow Black girl with cute braids and let her know, the person would always look at her in confusion. Repeatedly losing this sense of connection with other Black women in a new country confused her. “It makes you feel like you don’t know how to operate in the culture you’re in”, she reflects. Despite meeting a community of mostly expat American Black women, Mia felt lonely. Sweden’s been ranked one of the worst places on the planet for making new friends by InterNations.  We’re one of the world’s most individualistic countries, according to the global research project the World Values Survey (WVS) and over half of all households consist of a single person, according to Eurostat. On top of that, these stats don’t reflect the impact of systemic racism in workplaces, dating scenes and public spaces. Sweden can be a lonely place.

    Where many of us would conform and make do, Mia went against the grain. “There’s no way Black people don’t kiki here. I refuse to believe it” she states, eyes twinkling. And she’s right. Afroswedes have been living full and rich lives in Sweden since at least the 70s, organised politically and socially through initiatives like Afrosvenskarnas Riksförbund and Black Coffee and made their mark in arts and culture. As an immigrant, it can be difficult to find these spaces and traditions. When I ask her where this tenacity comes from, she giggles with a sense of mischief. “I will ask the same question five times in different ways to get the answer that I want. I’ve been like that my whole life.” When speaking to Afroswedes around her, Mia started to understand that the will to connect was there. It just needed an outlet. 

    The yoga class she set up in 2020 was a huge success. It became the first Altar Space event, the start of a separatist collective for Black women in Stockholm. It’s a chance for the community to get together for wellness events like yoga, reiki and book clubs. “It’s not just a network,” Mia explains, “There needs to be more — someone tasked with making sure we meet up, hug on each other, read together and yell on each other's kids. That’s a job.” Altar Space could just be a group chat but Mia has built a tangible way for Black women to show up for each other.

    I’ve felt this personally, from Mia and the wider Altar Space community. During my first art show, I was so nervous to put myself out there. I had mentioned it at one of the Altar Space events and Mia jumped into action. She sent out emails to all the Altar Space members and low and behold, my show was filled with beautiful and loving people cheering me on. “We are going to pull up,” Mia states as I recount how special that memory is to me. She shows me a photo from the show, now on the Altar Space official website. I scream in joy, much to the dismay of the white couple also sitting in the restaurant.

    The urgency of this work is not lost on Mia. When I ask about the labour of love I and many of my peers have enjoyed, she says: “It is 100% rooted in Blackness, in Black women and femmes and my life experience. I’ve always needed a Black feminine nurturer.” A study from 2014 that Afroswedes are the minority most likely to be subject to racially motivated physical violence in public places. As of 2022, anti-black hate crimes are the second most common type to occur. Anecdotally, workplace discrimination and burnout are not uncommon experiences in our community. “A lot of us grow up without safety”, Mia reflects.

    In light of this bleak reality, separatist spaces like Altar Space are needed more than ever.  “It’s our time to be nurtured,” Mia says. This community isn’t simply about staying in touch but playing an active role in each other's lives. For Mia, community is about building an ecosystem with all the reciprocity that life needs to sustain itself. This means encouraging growth beyond each event. “I can bring us together for an after-work every quarter”, she points out, “but are you following up? Are you meeting up? Are you checking on each other's kids?” Altar Space centralises the mechanics of care, of checking up on our peers in an intimate and meaningful way. Being in a community is not an easy task, especially in Sweden. Loneliness coupled with an individualistic and anti-black culture makes community building an intentional practice.

    While rewarding, this work comes at a price that Mia is keenly aware of. There is joy in providing people with a much-needed community space. Equally, the stress of managing people's expectations, setting up logistics and finances takes its toll. “Making sure is exhausting,” she admits, “A lot of the time I’m exhausted but fueled by people's gratitude and connection.”
    Separatist spaces are not free. Activities cost money, especially when it’s a space for only Black women. “If we’re gonna kiki, we need to pay for that”, Mia laughs. A child of COVID-19, Altar Space was born out of a need to feel connected. “When it comes to asking for anything back, I haven’t been able to figure out a model for that that doesn’t leave me with guilt. That is a personal problem of mine,” she says.

    A woman of persistence, Mia is learning how to nurture herself as well as her community. “I do have a very toxic trait where I only give and I become depleted very easily,” she reflects. It was important for Mia that she was able to pay for any help she received and she set very clear boundaries with her now assistant Zoe Bergvall. She is taking care of herself in real ways by quitting an unfulfilling job, investing in therapy and setting aside time for herself.  “I wanna figure out what a me era looks like,” she says. This feels like a significant shift because love and being loved is how we stay sane.

    As we leave the restaurant, it’s clear that Mia knows how to love in extraordinary ways. It shows up in her insistence that she pay for my meal, the advice she gives me about an important business meeting and the warmth with which she hugs me goodbye. For me, she continues a the legacy of love of Black women in my life have blessed me with. It’s a deep, considerate and fortifying love. It’s a love that shows up, that puts you on and puts you back together when life breaks you apart. It’s a lineage of love that’s set the pace for how I want to contribute to this world.

    photography Sandra Myhrberg

    makeup Emelie Olsson

    toner Lumene

    moisturiser Mili cosmetics mugwort face cream

    primer All I Am

    skintint Glossier, Ami Cole

    concealer Mili Cosmetics

    shading Madara skin equal

    blush Glossier cloud paint

    highlight Anastasia Beverly Hills stick highlighter

    brows Mili Cosmetics 3 way brow

    mascara Isadora

    lips Dries van noten