A Song of Old Goodbyes
Kristina Issa crafts her latest single out of the deep sea of memories. “Can’t Stay” is a song of departures in different forms: From a distant childhood friend, from the universe you built together… but maybe also from yourself. The song’s longing spirit and bouncy instrumental richness remind you of Laura Mvula or St Vincent’s early albums.
“Can’t Stay” starts in full-immersion mode, with a nostalgic voice from far away and the pureness of a steady saxophone. “The story is about two kids that are friends that build up this world and bury all their secrets in the ocean.”, Issa explains. “Then suddenly, one of them grows up.”
The recurring nostalgia of the song adds deeper layers as the instruments appear one by one. Playful synthesizer melodies seem to say that the only estranged child isn’t your friend. “Maybe the song is somehow about myself missing that kid who loved to be in her own world, and now I can’t really find her anymore.”, Issa reflects.
A choir makes its appearance towards the end, featuring several musicians from Gothenburg’s music scene. The band has a background in jazz and folk music, and Issa herself is a composer for media and theater. But in “Can’t Stay” they’ve decided to keep it to the basics, with instrumentation and simple melodies that seem to come from the lost child’s daydreaming.
Kristina Issa has become a household name in the Swedish indie music scene. As a composer, she has worked on audiovisual shows like “Arabic Spring” and “Queen Zenobia” in venues like Stora Teatern (Gothenburg) and Södra Teatern (Stockholm).
Her songs about exclusion and longing are deeply rooted in her cultural identity and have been performed on stages all over Europe. Issa is currently preparing for the release of an album in late 2021, an exploration of the different forms of goodbye. “Can’t Stay” will be released on June 11th.
Pop sounds of exile, departures, and longing are stitched together in Kristina Issa’s pop project. The Swedish/Syrian artist and her band have brought their mix of jazz and folk influences to stages across Europe. Eloquent synthesizers, bouncy drums and saxophones, and even an occasional touch of rock bringing musicians like Kate Bush and Regina Spektor to mind.
Music has been Issa’s “first thing in life” since childhood. She met her band members while studying at Gothenburg’s Music College. The project went through different experiments before releasing their first album “Afraid of Whales” in 2014.
“Mostly I write about hope, and maybe feeling a bit left out in this world.”, Issa tells us. “After seeing a war going down in my home country and living with a lot of fear, I think that’s why I wrote about this stuff.”
Her music combines these difficult, intimate subjects with colorful instruments that feel almost childlike. Songs like “This Little Heart” (2018) heal you through dance, while her album “Ocean” (2017) makes you stay quiet and listen through the resonant sea of feelings.
Kristina Issa has become a household name in the Swedish indie music scene. An active composer since her music academy years, she has worked on audiovisual shows like “Arabic Spring” and “Queen Zenobia” in venues like Stora Teatern (Gothenburg) and Södra Teatern (Stockholm).
Issa is preparing for the release of an album in November 2021, an exploration of the different forms of goodbye. The album singles “Can’t Stay” and “You’re Not Mine” got featured on Swedish outlets like Djungeltrumman, HYMN, and Popmuzik.
Photo by Nadim Elazzeh