Photo: Images courtesy of Gregg Greenwood

24 June 2021 | James Porteous | Clipper Media

Stronger Than Jesus

Written By Niclas FriskNina Persson & Nathan Larson

Who told you love is the Alfa and Omega?
And that your heart will lead you to the only one?
It’s a curse, it’s the hammer that will break you,
It’s a poison hidden in a bon bon

Don’t you know love is stronger than Jesus?
Don’t you know love can kill anyone?
Bring it on; wars and diseases
You know that love can do you like a shotgun

Can’t resist them, the sailors and the soldiers
Taking aim, a rabbit on a rifle range
Pay no mind to what your mama told you
You’re the fool who’s chasing down the candy cane

it’s a riddle how lovers can stay alive
but we bloom and breathe in all decline

Don’t you know love is stronger than Jesus?
Don’t you know love can kill anyone?
So bring it on; wars and diseases
You know that love can do you like a shotgun

o, oh no
o, oh no

See the people heading for disaster
standing in line just looking for a little fun
love is a fire, a hot hot blaster
with a vengeance burning in the Kongo sun

We’ll believe there’s trust in strangers
any monkey looking like a saviour
It’s a riddle how
we’re still living now
Oh, how little we know, oh

Don’t you know love is stronger than Jesus?
Don’t you know love can kill anyone?
so bring it on; wars and diseases
You know that love can do you like a shotgun

Eau de Colonia: An Interview with Nina Persson of A Camp

By Anna-Lynne Williams | Published: April 30, 2009

A Camp began as a collaboration between Nina Persson of The Cardigans and Nicolas Frisk of Atomic Swing, but soon snowballed and picked up several notable players, some in temporary and some in permanent roles.

Their debut was released in 2001 and showcased the detailed, spooky production of Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous. It wasn’t until 2007 that The Cardigans’ schedule allowed Persson the time to return to her new project and start composing a second album. With Persson and her husband (film composer) Nathan Larson producing the album themselves, Colonia has a markedly different tone than the folky ballads that filled the eponymous debut. Recorded in New York with the likes of James Iha and Nicolai Dunger making appearances, the album is diverse and glamorous, big and bright.

What was the impetus for your trip to South Africa that ultimately inspired so many of the themes for the new album?

Me and a Swedish girlfriend went to visit our Namibian friend, who now lives in Cape Town. We went with her family on a camping drive through South Africa and through Namibia, so most of the time we spent camping in the Namib desert, and this was really amazing to me.

It was unclear after the release of the first A Camp album if it was a lovely one-off project, or the debut something long-term. And Colonia certainly suggests that there is a full-fledged band at work. Do you already have intentions to work on new A Camp material?

Well, I guess we’d love to do more A Camp music, but at the moment it’s hard to think of what’s next… We’re on a long tour and loving that, and ideas of new music usually don’t come until work has cooled down a bit.

With such a different sound between the two releases, was there ever doubt in whether to rename the project? What are the core ingredients, to you, that the two A Camp albums have in common?

No, in my mind, anything that I do aside from the Cardigans will be called A Camp. It would be too hard and confusing to try to establish another project name at this point. The ingredients that will always be the same are me, and probably Nathan and Niclas, and I feel like we have found a world of music where we always find more when we grab for it.

Was there a particular moment or idea or song that led you to decide to immerse yourself in A Camp a second time around, after a long spell of focusing on The Cardigans?

Not really, the three of us had discussed making a second album for years, we just needed to free up time enough to do it.

Where did you record Colonia? Do you do any of your recordings at home?

We recorded it in a bunch of different studios in NYC, and a tiny bit in Tambourine Studios in Malmö, Sweden. We have a rehearsal space that is also Nathan’s studio for his film music; we did a little bit of recording there as well. By now, we have built a room in our house that’s gonna function as a studio, so in the future we’re hoping to do more at home.

I really enjoy the blend of your voice with Nicolai Dunger’s in “Golden Teeth and Silver Medals.” Had you ever sang with him before?

No, this was the first time. But I have loved his voice for a long time, so I was so happy to finally get to propose to him…!

You have spoken of being inspired by the Swedish melancholy — can you talk about how this affected you growing up, and how you address it in your music?

Melancholy is not really the right word to describe the mentality. Swedes are more… serene and mellow, and not afraid of the dark, and this is something that I still think is a big part of my personality, even though I’ve learned some good stuff from living in the U.S…. I can’t really talk about how my Swedishness affected me growing up. It simply is what I am, and my music is probably really colored by it, I’m just not the person to see it.

How long have you lived in New York, and how has it changed your musical sensibilities?

I have lived there on and off for about ten years, and more permanently for the last three. I feel very liberated there. The multitude of everything has made me more free to do what my instincts tell me. In Sweden things are just more homogenous, which makes you a bit limited and your mind gets walled in a bit.

I am curious about your experience acting in Om God Vill… Did you find that this came naturally after writing songs from the perspective of different characters, and shooting music videos?

Well, I thought that I would be helped by these previous experiences, but I was still a bit shocked at how difficult I found acting. I loved it, but I really realized that it makes sense to get training as an actor. I can naturally act when I’m in the mood, but when you make a movie you simply have to be in the mood every day at four in the morning and whenever you’re told to be.

What are three things that you love?

My husband, Spikemats, and music

What are three things that you hate?

Can’t even think of one!

Who are some artists you are currently enjoying?

Frida Hyvönen and Nina Simone.

Images courtesy of Gregg Greenwood

Visit Nina Persson of A Camp on MySpace:

Identity Theory’s recommended listening: “Elephant” and “Golden Teeth and Silver Medals” by A Camp

This is a great demo version of the song but it won’t let me load it here. See here

Colonia is the second studio album by A Camp, the collaborative side project between The Cardigans vocalist Nina Persson, her husband, composer Nathan Larson and former Atomic Swing guitarist Niclas Frisk. The album was released on 28 January 2009 in Scandinavia by Universal and in the UK and mainland Europe by independent British label Reveal Records on 2 February and 20 March respectively, while in the United States the album was released through Nettwerk on 28 April 2009.[1]

“Stronger Than Jesus” was released as the first single from Colonia on 19 January 2009. In Sweden, the song spent eleven weeks on the Sverigetopplistan chart, eventually peaking at number 8, making it their most successful single to date in the region.[2] “Love Has Left the Room” was released as the second single in the UK and Ireland, while “My America” became the second Swedish single.[3]

An EP of outtakes, Covers, was released in digital format on 9 June 2009 in support of the album.

Following the release of A Camp’s self-titled debut album in 2001 and subsequent tours, Persson returned to her position as front-woman with The Cardigans for the release of Long Gone Before Daylight (2003) and Super Extra Gravity (2005). When the band ceased all promotional activities following a South American festival tour in September 2006, Persson decided to revisit the A Camp project with the view of releasing a new studio album by 2008.”We were talking about the strange phenomenon of colonialism, with Europeans going around the world claiming every place as their own. We were obsessing about that, interested in the aesthetic—it’s grossly alluring. I’ve been to Africa, but never in my life have I thought it would be an inspiration. We thought of the word “colonia” because we had a fantasy that the record would provide a smell for each song—like a cologne. Like how some people see colors when they hear music. All of our fantasies would somehow be summed up in a word.”[4]

—Nina Persson on the meaning behind the title Colonia.

The initial demo sessions were met with frustration, however, when Persson struggled to find the right framework to produce a new A Camp record, with Persson admitting “[the first A Camp album] was like my perfect country record. I didn’t want this one to sound anything like the first, because that would have cheapened it. And I didn’t want it to sound like a Cardigans album. It took a long time to work out what to do next and figure out what songs would be suitable. I ended up going back in time for the answer.”[5]

Inspiration came following a safari trip to South Africa in early 2007. “I went there specifically to get away from writing songs, but being among the lions made me think of an old-fashioned empire – and that led to the idea of the decadence of old kings and queens.”[5]

The recording of a second A Camp album was officially confirmed by Persson in an interview with Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in May 2007. The interview stated that, mere weeks after recording had started, half a dozen backing tracks were completed and that these were “going to get lyrics about everything from Chinatown in New York to animals in Africa,”[16] while the sound of the album was said to be inspired by “girl-pop from the 60’s, 80’s punk and David Bowie,” but Persson made particular mention of Adam Ant, indicating that a cover of his song “Prince Charming” may be included.[16]

The process of recording was undertaken by more that of “a proper band” [in comparison to the first A Camp record],[1] as Persson “realised touring the first A Camp that I hate being thought of as a solo artist. It’s too lonely. I’ve grown up in a band, and I need people around me.”[5] Persson, along with Atomic Swing founder Niclas Frisk and Persson’s husband, former Shudder To Think guitarist Nathan Larson, constructed the majority of the backing tracks. “I made Nathan audition,” Persson once said jokingly in an interview.[5] The core group of musicians was rounded out by Kevin March, who performed drums on the majority of the album, and whom Nathan had worked with previously as a member of Shudder To Think.

Of the duet with Swedish singer Nicolai Dunger, Persson has said “I love the idea of duets, but too many are simple love songs. I don’t understand that – you know the singers aren’t going to fuck, so it feels fake and cheesy. But I’d thought for a long time my voice would work well with Nicolai.”[5]

Among the many notable guest musicians who contributed to the album are Joan Wasser, former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and classically trained cello player Jane Scarpantoni, who had previously worked with artists such as Bruce SpringsteenPatti SmithSheryl CrowR.E.M.Lou Reed and 10,000 ManiacsSparklehorse’s Mark Linkous, who produced the majority of the first A Camp record, makes an appearance on slide guitar on album closer “The Weed Had Got There First.” When asked why he wasn’t at the helm of this record also, Persson replied, “because he didn’t need to. Once the songs finally came, we wanted to get going. I love Mark, but obviously he’s a busy man. And with the three of us producing, it helps send out the message: A Camp is now a band. A fucking great one too.”[5]

Backing Vocals Anna Ternheim & Cat Martino

Horns Kelly Pratt & Jon Natchez

BassNathan Larson

VocalsNina Persson

Mastered by Fred Kevorkian

Recorded ByGeoff Sanoff

Mix Nathan Larson & Al Weatherhead

Release Date 2009