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Meet eee gee, the singer who refuses to put her music in one box

eee gee, real name Emma Grankvist, pairs whip-smart lyrics against kaleidoscopic sounds.

By Nick Reilly

Eee Gee (Picture: Press)

“It’s a ghost house, dating’s haunted, everyone’s scared, to catch feelings,” comes the snappy chorus of ‘Ghost House’, the commitment issues synth pop banger that marks the first taste of She Rex, the latest album from Danish star eee gee.

The singer, real name Emma Grankvist, deals in whip-smart lyrics and striking melodies that offer a refreshing perspective on the world around her, all wrapped up in a package that’s brilliantly tough to pigeonhole.

“There was a big moment for me when I started realising that I could write songs in different genres, because I love Banks, but I also love Joni Mitchell,” she tells Rolling Stone UK.

Now, She-Rex will take that sound in further directions, with the singer promising a disco-tinged element too.

Check out our whole Q&A with eee gee below.

We first you saw supporting in Arlo Parks on the Rolling Stone UK stage at The Great Escape earlier this year. How was that experience for you?

It was amazing, because it was our first show outside of Denmark where we didn’t bring all of our equipment, so that presented the challenge of having to play on a smaller setup which was really fun. We’ve always been curious about that was going to work, but it’s a fun way to do things.

You were raised in Denmark and you’ve said that singing in your native tongue could help you go to the top there? Why didn’t you choose to take that path?

Phonetically it suits my personality better to sing in a language that’s a little softer, Danish can sound a little harsher on the syllables and the vowels. It’s a beautiful language, but singing in your own language means there’s no filters between you and the audience. Personality wise I’m more of an introvert so having a small sense of a cloak between me and the audience helps a little bit. But now I’ve lived in New York for two years, I actually feel more connected to the language which is interesting as I’m growing a little bit more mature and a bit more confident in music. That cloak is starting to fade away, so I do feel that I’m beginning to connect with people even though it’s not my native tongue.

There’s multiple sides to your sound. Some parts are full pop whereas others are perhaps a bit folkier. How did you land on these sounds when first writing?

It’s funny because I had a project before this one with a producer that was definitely leaning way more towards like alternative pop. And I remember we started out writing and sounding like acts like Beach House, but we really wanted to start writing more commercial pop and I listened a lot to Banks in that time and I was really into like that very melancholic dark electronic pop thing.

But when we started playing live – I don’t know if it was a combination of the key and the chords and the production and the melody – I just, it just didn’t feel like it was vibrating with me.

So when we ended that project, I just knew that I had to start over again and really investigate what genre felt authentic to me and where I’m from and really make sure that it felt like an extension of me instead of just being something that was trending or felt cool. There was a big moment for me when I started realising that I could write songs in different genres, because I love Banks, but I also love Joni Mitchell.

Also, I started thinking about how Copenhagen and Denmark takes in so many global influences, because we love Beyonce and Frank Ocean and Adele. We’re so influenced by all of these genres that are not really authentic to where we’re actually from culturally.

So I just really felt the need to, to investigate more of like the folk genre which I feel like is way more, you know, authentic to where we’re actually from.

It’s funny that people have been saying it sounds like Lana Del Rey because I I love Lana but it was never like a thing I was going for.

Do your live shows help that connection to grow?

Yeah. I’d played my first shows and festivals for a year and it’s very easy for me to feel a strong connection when I’m on stage. Look, I wouldn’t necessarily put my music on for like, you know, going out and the peak of the party, but it definitely could be there at a pre party or coming down from a party. That’s the same vibe I’m really going for at festivals.

Your second album She-Rex arrives in September. Where does it take your sound and what can you tell us about the title?

It’s interesting because on my new album I’ve experimented with disco, so maybe I am getting closer to the songs that get played at the peak of the party and the peak of festivals!

The title is a rather sarcastic response to my first album, that was a very emotional record and about never really knowing where you’re standing with yourself. You know, trying to work with all the self care and self awareness in a world that is trying to pull you apart.

It’s an extension of that and, you know, T-Rex represents a primal and aggressive instinct. There’s a softer touch on the record too, but it has that I want to conquer the world feel, which felt very appropriate for a second album.

It’s also funny that Rex in Latin is king, because of course they had to give the biggest dinosaur male characteristics. I thought it was funny to make it into a She-Rex. The She King! It’s a fun word play and it has a strong base in humour and tongue in cheek lyrics.

Does that humour go through like a lot of your songwriting?

I like putting a very healthy amount of humour in my songs because I feel like if it’s just like the right amount, it can really open up some very, like, heavy and dark like subjects.

There’s definitely a tendency in music that if you touch melancholic or like dark themes, it’s always very heavy. So I thought it’s great to find that perfect balance of having a little bit of self awareness, about where you are in your darkest path, then it’s easy to unravel those subjects.

It’s the same on ‘Killing It’, which is taken from my first album. It was at the time where I was moving to New York and I had just got signed to a label.

I had just gotten my first boyfriend in a decade and I hadn’t really begun like a serious career in music and everyone was just rooting for me, but I was so anxious about this whole thing just falling apart. So I really had to manifest it and in Denmark you don’t really have that, you know, I’m killing it, you know, attitude. So I thought it was really funny to take something very American like, ‘girl, you’re killing it!’ and then sing it from there.

What’s the go-to mindset in Denmark if that sense of praise isn’t there?

There’s more of the idea of almost like staying in your lane and a little bit, kind of more modest and reserved. It’s very much like never hoping for too much. But in America it’s just like you just go ahead, you’re gonna win it. I think it’s because we have so much security in Denmark, we have funding and support and we have such a good health care system. We don’t really have to take big chances or big risks because if it doesn’t work out, we can always just find another way.

After moving to New York, it really hit me that people don’t have a a good health care system. There’s not like big supports for art or culture in the same way there is in Denmark. So they really have to go for it. And I really, really find that inspiring.

Is there anything else you can tell us about the new album?

I do really like how we’re experimenting with folk meeting rock and meeting disco. That says a lot about where I’m at emotionally, wanting to go from the quirky naive side of songwriting. There’s a very big emotional width and I love how that reflects in the choices of genre and colours. There’s notes of ABBA and Phoebe Bridgers and old school country rock in there too. I’m just really proud of going through a lot of colours to deliver this album.