Imagine sitting at a desk for hours, going through submitted compositions, that mostly sound the same—muddy vocals, timid production, and mirrored beats-per-minutes with lyrics that do not push original ideas and concepts in the least bit. Then, to your surprise, a ‘Madame Bovary’ comes along: A production, that teaches you about a world apart from your own.
Drawing sonic parallels to the crisp vocals and minimal live instrumentation patterns that Baroque Pop New York City band Vampire Weekend tends to use to their advantage, Malmö, Sweden-native musician Karl Jakob sings a tune that “offers a bittersweet journey through the romantic mind of Emma Bovary, held together by a minimalistic indie-folk-chamber arrangement.”
No illusion is greater than what’s real. No light bigger than what you feel.
Those are the lines that captured me, aside from the master recording inspired by the one hundred-sixty-three years removed from Gustave Flaubert’s masterpiece: a two-hundred fifty-seven-page novel.
Before this moment, Karl Jakob—born Karl Tore Jakob Stenseke—played in a band as a guitarist and a saxophone player in a GRAMMY-nominated band called, Zekes. In 2012, he released his first-self-produced album under a moniker: The Key Key. Currently, he has two albums and two extended plays with a musical duo called, Feelium, which creates under the Psychedelic/Electronic Pop categories. Notably, Jakob has released songs like ‘Apple tree’, ‘On repeat’, and others, but they didn’t quite hit like ‘Madame Bovary’.
When I asked him to make the beautiful record, he replied with these words in a direct message:
The song was originally made to celebrate the 160-year anniversary of Gustave Flaubert’s masterpiece with the same name. It is sort of a journey through the mind of Emma Bovary (main character of Flaubert’s book). It is a commentary and reflection of the book, of the blunt temptations of Emma’s fragile romantic fantasies. My interpretation of the book is that it forces the thesis that something seemingly shallow and naive can be the most — if not the only — meaningful thing for us. And that any interpretation of reality is either enshrouded by an idealistic mist, or there’s simply nothing to it at all. Like being madly in love, and accepting that spell as the only things keeping us going in. Musically speaking, I decided to make a pretty simple chamber-folk arrangement held together by piano, double bass, and saxophones (I don’t own any clarinet no more). I am a big fan of various classical music composers, but cannot pinpoint anyone that inspired this song specifically. I guess that using classical elements in this pop setting is something I got from Vampire Weekend.
Furthermore, it is one of the best-detailed answers I’ve received in my life as a journalist, and for that, my team and I hope to support Karl Jakob’s music forever.
The record comes from a forthcoming EP called, ‘Pippi is dead. And we killed her.’ It has taken seven years to complete it. With an original release date in 2014, it is now that it will see the light of day. The titling takes inspiration from a Friedrich Nietzsche quote: God is dead. If you aren’t familiar with the phrase, Jakob says it is an expression of the idea that the Enlightenment had “killed” the possibility of belief in God. In his version, Pippi Longstocking symbolises the end of “youthful strength” and “adolescent naivety”. It marks the end of a happy childhood and the beginning of real life”, he shares.