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Video Feature: Lina Tullgren Offers Intimacy to the Alienated

September 12, 2019
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer
Photos Credited and Courtesy of Lina Tullgren

Through sailing guitars and strings filled with reverb, chorus, and a sense of lonesomeness, Lina Tullgren puts forward their isolation in a lush and emphatic live video for Free Cell

Aptly named after a game of solitaire, Lina Tullgren (who uses they/them pronouns) explores themes of alienation and a search for order on their sophomore effort, Free Cell, released by Captured Tracks in August. While on tour for their debut album, Won, in 2017, Tullgren found a comparison between the game and writing music: it’s an introverted process in which, at the end, everything falls into place.

Credit: Kayhl Cooper

Originally from Maine but now based in Queens, New York, Tullgren wrote Free Cell while in a transitional period, starting in between tours while living at their parents’ home in New England, and fully materializing as they moved to Queens to be closer to their music community.  

Credit: Laura Bartczak

Tullgren self-produced Free Cell with help from friends, stating that the production was a “combination of intuiting my friends super powers, learning how to best communicate with them in order to extract the sounds I wanted to hear, mania, fun, and also learning to let go at the proper junctures.” 

Along with the album, Tullgren filmed four songs from Free Cell in their bedroom. With the help of friend and collaborator, Ty Ueda, who directed and shot the videos, Tullgren visually portrays the intimacy of the album:

“This series captures an integral part of my creative process: writing and conceptualizing music in my room or in solitude. I don’t intend to make music that is universal, but often times I end up doing just that—writing music about coping mechanisms, retreat, communication, isolation… all things we experience in our day to day whether we want to face them or not.”

Lina Tullgren

In the live video for “Free Cell,” everyday noises from the street seep in among images from Tullgren’s home: art on the wall, DVDs, a spice rack, and a friend pensively listening as Tullgren’s strumming breaks through the noise. “The addition of another person in each video takes music that I write for only myself and offers it to the intentional listener,” says Tullgren. “I struggle a lot with the idea of audience and their purpose—why give away music so personal to strangers who know nothing about my life? Why play shows on stages to people staring at their phones? It’s complicated… This series finds a happy medium where I’m in my room (the place I feel most comfortable) with my friends (the people I feel most comfortable sharing music with).”

This month, Tullgren will be supporting Frankie Cosmos on a North American tour. Check out the dates below!

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