As a financial reporter, journalist Sofia Ek traveled the world, covering economies from Greece to Costa Rica. But not all of her assignments were so scenic; when she was still in her 20s, the Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney magazine sent her to report on Libya under Muammar Gaddafi’s tyrannical regime. Ek chronicled the experience in her harrowing 2017 memoir The Minefield Girl, which she’s rereleasing today as an audiovisual book on Spotify.
Last night, the unique project launched with an immersive audio-visual activation at Midtown’s Lightbox, where some of music’s brightest stars, from Nick Jonas to Hailee Steinfeld, gathered to fete the first lady of Spotify (her husband, Daniel Ek, is the company’s CEO and founder). But her main motivation to create the platform’s first original audiovisual experience was driven more by sight than sound. “I love audiobooks but I always felt like I was slightly distracted,” she says. “I ended up looking at content that had nothing to do with the story and I felt almost bad for the story.”
Accompanying each of the book’s 18 chapters are 2-minute animations by emerging and established artists, whom Ek assembled with the help of digital arts platform Blackdove. After reading the book, each artist selected a chapter to visualize – a process that Ek says went surprisingly smoothly. “It was funny because they all got to choose a chapter, and not one of them chose the same chapter,” she says. “And that really proves their different techniques and interpretation of things.”
These interpretations range from Ukranian artist Matt Yoka’s screen saver-like rendering of Gaddafi’s floating head, to Portland-based Gabriel Barcia Colombo’s depiction of Gaddafi’s daughter Ayesha, whom Ek describes as the “North African Claudia Schiffer.” “They really got to the core of the parts [of the book] that were most emotional for me,” adds Ek.
With her finance reporting days behind her, Ek spends most of her time these days with her husband and two children in Stockholm. Below, see her favorite places to recharge.
Cup of Joe: Café Saturnus in Stockholm. It’s a little coffee shop. It’s very French. It’s a boulangerie.
Cocktail Hour: I very rarely drink. I’m all about the atmosphere. I like loungey places with good music.
Retail Therapy: I must say I mostly shop at Net-A-Porter. I’m a big e-commerce person. And they have such great shipping and can make really fast exchanges. So I love that.
Date Night: It’s called P.A.&Co. It’s an amazing little place and everyone who goes to Stockholm should go there. You can’t book a table. You have to call the same day, and after three o’clock. It’s like, you have to wait by the phone.
Hidden Gem: It’s called Ett Hem. Or “one home.” It’s a hotel. It’s very like… a lot of celebrities go there already. It’s not so hidden anymore. But it’s very nice.
Don’t Miss: Our installation will be showing in Stockholm starting [today]. It’s the biggest photography museum in Europe. It’s called Fotografiska. They’re also opening locations [in New York] and in London.