Hanna Larsson and Andrea Kallström, aka lennixx, are challenging the long-held, clichéd notions of Scandi-pop with their unapologetic stance. Adopting their new moniker after two years of silence (previously they were just Hanna & Andrea), the duo’s latest EP, hapap, is a powerful manifesto that poignantly fuses jazz and R&B innuendos with electronica, all through a pop scope.
The six-track EP candidly reflects on Sweden’s urban culture, showcasing the pair’s youth and ambition maturely whilst uncannily yet freshly tapping into ‘00s and ‘80s nostalgia. From start to finish in hapap, Hanna and Andrea’s voice perfectly harmonize, as if made for each other. We catch up with the duo to talk about their genre-blending approach, breaking the box, and offering something fresh from a rather traditional standpoint.
How did you both get started in music? I know it runs in the family for you, Hanna, being Zara Larsson’s sister…
We’ve both been interested in music since we were really young, inspired and touched by the creativity. Our parents encouraged us from early ages to express ourselves through dance and singing, which is pretty much where it started for both for us, meeting each other. Neither of our parents or siblings – except for Zara, of course – have been especially interested in music.
How did you guys link up as a duo?
We met at a dance school where we quickly became best friends and, as best friends, we shared interests, so we would often sing with each other and in front of each other. After a while, we had the idea to do a cover together, seeing as we already were really comfortable singing with each other. The rest is history.
Previously, you went for simply Hanna & Andrea. What made you change your name to lennixx?
We’ve always wanted to share a group name, something more than just our first names, that defines us as a duo. We brainstormed a lot of different names a few years ago, but nothing really stuck, and it felt meaningless to go by a name that we didn’t connect with. We’ve both, for years now, had our own alter egos and Andrea’s is called ‘Lennox’. One day, we were reflecting on it and felt an immediate connection to the name. Given that it was her name and that many other artists go by the same name, we chose to twist it a bit and came out with lennixx. It was our own and felt like it fitted the music we were and are still making. The two x’s are also the woman’s biological chromosomes.
Your latest EP, hapap, has been out for a minute now. How has the reaction been so far?
The reaction has been unbelievable. We really feel like people are getting an idea of what’s coming next for us and how it’s going to sound since we've been away for so long.
 What does hapap mean?
‘hapap’ is sort of an inside joke for us, it’s what we call ourselves and have called ourselves for over four years now! It’s basically our names together, something we came up with on the search for our group name, but it didn’t really stick. Saying that, we always call ourselves it when we refer to our music and our friendship, and that’s why we wanted to name our first mixtape ‘hapap’ because it holds special meaning for us both. It means to never give up on what you really want to do and to always stay true to yourself. The most important thing for us was to follow our hearts and never lose track of what ‘hapap’ is and what it means to us as a group.
It has been two years since you released your debut single. What has been the process of working on this EP over that time? Any revelations?
The thought of an EP or a mixtape wasn’t really why we started writing songs. We wanted to write a single but when we got in the studio, we realised that we couldn’t only release one song after a quiet two years. We needed more than just the one song to show our new sound and the different sides to our songwriting; just releasing a single wouldn’t have done us justice.
We’d already written a number of other songs, so had enough to put out there and really get the chance to showcase the new sound we’d come up with and which direction we were heading musically. A revelation we had during the process was how much we enjoy writing our own songs and being apart of the creative side of our music.
This EP sounds quite different from your previous music, offering a much more nurtured side of emotion. How would you say you have matured as a duo with hapap?
We wouldn’t say we’ve necessarily matured, but we’ve certainly come to realise and discover exactly what we like to write. When we released our first single, our vision of what we wanted to create wasn’t as clear as it is now. When we started writing, we really found ourselves and learned how to express ourselves through our music. Since we hadn’t managed that before, you could say we’ve matured in a sense – that we write our own music now, allowing more of our own emotions to flow through the music since we actually experience and feel all the things we produce.
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In the EP, you fuse ‘00s vibes with ‘80s synthesisers, down-tempos and soulful vocals seamlessly. What have been the main influences, both musical and otherwise?
When we started writing, we weren’t focused on finding a specific genre or anything like that – we just wrote whatever came out, it all just came naturally to us. We didn’t consciously try to replicate the nostalgia of the ‘00s and ‘80s, though we do listen to a lot of music from that era ourselves. Our main influences are pretty much artists like SZA, Frank Ocean and Amy Winehouse. But we generally tried to create something of our own, incorporating jazz chords, R&B beats and everything in between, trying to create something new.
Even if unconsciously, the early-‘00s sound is a common denominator of your music. What is it about this era that speaks to you musically?
We don’t really listen to that much commercial pop, the kind of stuff dominating the industry at the moment. We listen to artists, prominent in the ‘00s, that are influenced themselves by more traditional genres of music, like jazz and R&B. We want to create a timeless sound that’ll stay relevant. Our songwriting involves a lot of harmonies; something we feel is a distinctive element of our music.
What story did you hope to tell throughout the progression of the six tracks – from selfless to efforts?
We had more of a musical thread throughout the mixtape. But lyrically and theme wise, we didn’t really put it in an order to tell a story – though the songs do tell a story musically in that there’s a running stylistic theme. Lyrically, it’s more about realisations about yourself and your surroundings, but we don’t really have a red thread throughout the mixtape.
Though inspired by jazz, you are usually put under the R&B umbrella. Do you feel it is the only extent of your scope?
We don’t feel it is our only genre. We try to avoid limiting ourselves to a category of music as we don’t want to minimise our possibilities to branch out into different sounds and vibes. We really just want to mash sounds together and do what we think works well. If people want to put a label on it, we feel it could sort of be described as R&B/Soul. It’s pretty interesting actually because in Sweden, we are often described as a pop duo, yet in London, we’re labelled an R&B one!
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Well, you fit into Stockholm’s urban aesthetic, challenging the pre-established and quasi-clichéd notions of Scandi-pop. How would you describe this scene? What do you feel you offer that’s fresh?
Sweden is mainly known for its pop and Swedes are really, really good at it, so when we started out as a duo, we were generally encouraged to make pop music. We have worked with a lot of people in the pop genre, but we always felt a bit out of place, the scene has never fully resonated with us, whereas R&B/Soul really has.
It’s pretty unusual, making this kind of music in Sweden. We’ve gained attention for doing something that doesn’t necessarily fit in with the standard in Sweden; it’s unique! A lot of our friends love to listen to this type of music, but don’t typically write anything R&B-orientated themselves. We try and offer an alternative to your typical Scandi-pop – something people may not expect us to do, we go our own way musically.
Are you planning on performing the EP live sometime soon?
We have performed a couple of times doing both a short set of like one or two songs and the full mixtape, but we'd love to go to other countries and check out different scenes – more festivals and clubs and so on. The most important thing for us when performing live is to put on a good show, but also to show that we’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating hapap. People should be surprised when they come to a show. During a performance, we really want to focus on appreciating the audience, and to relax, take it in and realise that we’re doing what we love.
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
We are currently writing a lot of music; exploring, establishing and expanding on our style. We really want to test our creative abilities and boundaries, additionally applying ourselves to some of the production stages we were previously not involved in. But our main goal is to release more music and perform as much as possible.
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