“I went to a year of art school before I quit to join the Cardigans,” Nina Persson tells us from her home in Sweden. “I never thought music would last forever; I thought I would go back to that.” Persson, of course, stuck with the band. The Cardigans shot to fame with the 1996 single “Lovefool” and has had a long, successful run, even if it took a few years to feel just right.
“I was a couple of years into playing with The Cardigans when I realized this is truly what I wanted to do,” Persson says. “For a really long time, I thought it would be something fun and temporary and then I would go back to school. We had probably been working together for almost five years before I was like, Oh, shit, this is what I do now.”
And she kept doing it—first with The Cardigans, then with the group A Camp and now for her first solo effort, Animal Heart, out this week. The warm, melodic and imminently listenable collection of 13 songs makes clear just why she’s had such longevity.
“I felt like it was time for me to do something again,” she says of the album’s genesis. “My life has changed recently—I had a kid—so I realized I had to figure out a different way to work. Previously, when I made a record with A Camp or The Cardigans, I gave my whole life to a project and now it has to work with everything else. I thought a solo record would make me more flexible.”
Persson’s not the only one who’s changed, however. Her fanbase has evolved as well.
“The Cardigans had one kind of crowd that we got around ‘Lovefool,’ but they dropped off quickly after,” she says. “Now when I look out from stage, I always expect to see people my own age—I expect a lot of 40-year-olds, but it’s not always like that; there a lot of young, cool people there too.”