By Abi Scaife
Jenny Rossander, better known as Lydmor, is a self-described “creator of avant-garde pop”. Based in Denmark, she is an independent musician who aims to create heartfelt experiences out of her music and live performances. Her credits include singer, songwriter, producer, composer and all-around rockstar. But more than that, has Lydmor become the voice of independent musicians?
Throughout the pandemic, she has been incredibly vocal about how independent artists are struggling to survive and how now, more than ever, they need the support of their fans. In October of 2021, she wrote a guest article for Nothing But Hope and Passion entitled ‘Back To Normal’, detailing just exactly what it is like to be a musician today without the ability to perform.
When COVID-19 hit the world as a whole, live performance was put on hold. While it was the right decision, for independent musicians, in particular, their world came to a terrifying halt. “I think for a lot of musicians everybody was so used to having such an exciting life and when you just suddenly get that taken away from you it’s brutal. Because you’re like sitting [there] like ‘Okay, who the fuck am I?’”
For many independent musicians, playing live shows means much more than money in the bank. Performances are a way to attract new fans, connect with the ones you already have – they are new and exciting experiences that fuel creativity. For Rossander, performing is not just for financial gain: “It’s a very tangible, physical, semi-spiritual experience.”
Before the pandemic, Rossander spent a year working on a performance that she described as “a philosophical exploration of sensuality”. This, like many other projects and events meant to take place in early 2020, was cancelled just a week before the event. It was just one in a series of letdowns in what would become an all too familiar consequence of the pandemic for musicians all around the world.
“I was stuck in my apartment and…everything just got cancelled, like every single time I would get a call it would be something getting cancelled.” She spoke of Denmark’s first lockdown that occurred in March 2020. “And it’s not just you, it’s everybody. It was such a weird time”. Rossander coped with the lockdowns by learning and studying. She took online classes in sheet music and philosophy to deepen her understanding of her chosen artistry, and now applies the lessons and knowledge to her music and live performances.
For many artists, the COVID lockdowns and repeated isolation meant that being creative was almost impossible. For Rossander, things were a little different. During the lockdowns, she began broadcasting live streams during which she played music, sang and talked to her fans to connect with them from a distance. Thanks to this, she was asked to compose the scores for multiple different projects, including the Danish film Venuseffekkten (the Venus Effect), November 18th 2021.
“Suddenly I was actually busier than I’d ever been but in this totally different way,” Rossander explained. “Which for me was extremely nice but also like ‘okay I just completely changed my entire life in one year’ and none of it was … my own decision.’”
Even as the world opens up again in the wake of vaccinations, live performances are harder to play than ever. Concert venues, gear and session musicians are all completely booked up as record labels, both major and independent, scramble to get their artists back on stage. Unfortunately, for smaller artists, returning to the stage remains a challenge.
“When you have a music industry that’s under pressure … the small players get cut away.” Rossander admits, with a disappointed shrug. “Huge festivals, labels … they don’t take risks because they can’t. You don’t have a venue going “oh let’s book this small, cool artist because we think she’s really cool and then we’ll see how it goes with ticket sales’ they go ‘no, we’ll book whatever sells”.
Dedicated fans are the lifeblood of independent artists. During the lockdown, the only real way to maintain that relationship was via social media and live streams. Now that the world has begun to open up, any in-person interactions can feel like a minefield. “What I do is quite emotional, it’s a violent defence of fragility, so I’ve always had very emotional fans at shows,” Rossander explained. “Most shows … fans come up to me and they hug me and some of them cry into my shoulder. And I’m going, to be honest here, I don’t stop it. I know it’s risky and it’s on my mind and it is so difficult because having that moment where people can actually get to just be held for a while, it’s very special.”
Rossander’s perseverance as an indie artist is commendable. Her desire to stay connected with her fans against all odds shows us just how important that relationship is to independent musicians across the globe. Whether she’s wearing fluorescent body paint and climbing on bars, or alone on stage with her piano, she approaches the world as a well-rounded, multifaceted artist.