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Story / Catherine Santino

Photo / Peter St. James

There’s something in the air in Sweden. Skott is yet another immeasurable talent to emerge from the Scandinavian nation, but her story is a bit different. Raised in a small village called Vikarbyn, Pauline Skott grew up playing violin and learning from other folk musicians in her community. Music was closely tied to storytelling, which is why Skott was drawn to Greek mythology when creating her new single, “Midas”. 

“It is first and foremost about mythical undying love, the struggle in daring to let your walls down, opening up your heart and becoming mortal,” Skott says of her intention behind the song. “You can build your life in solid gold, but it might come at the great cost of starving your heart through isolation, like King Midas did in the legend.”

The track is anchored by the same four chords repeated, an unusual structure for an experienced composer like Skott. “This song kind of just happened,” she tells LADYGUNN. “It was probably the fastest song I’ve ever written, melody wise. Usually I try and use tons of different chords, but this track is just four chords and they go over and over again. So I think that put me in what felt like a trance, and that has a feeling of time and eternity.”

The melodies on “Midas” are certainly entrancing, but equally hypnotic are Skott’s vocals, which soar to unearthly octaves as she laments, “Always live for always / til we die together / say you want to be here / you want to be young.” It’s shocking to learn that singing happened somewhat accidentally for Skott. Though she grew up singing and humming around the house, the musician says she only really began exploring vocals when she started playing piano. “When I became a teenager I was more interested in the arrangement of songs,” she says. “When I was 15 I got a piano. I taught myself to play and then I started to sing, because it’s just really natural.” 

Her teen years are when Skott also became interested in video games and their soundtracks. After downloading tools online to help her, she began producing and composing her own music. When I ask what attracted her to video game music, Skott points to its storytelling aspects. Like film music, she says, “it always has to tell a story, but because it’s part of the story.” “I think in a way, it wasn’t a big step,” she continues. “It’s so connected to folk music, but also it has more cinematic, dramatic elements. So I think I got a little but of the epic style from video game music.” Skott continued to hone her skills at the prestigious Musikmakarna school in Sweden, where she trained as a composer.

Armed with innate musical sensibility and newfound producing chops, Skott began carving a path for herself in the pop music scene. Along with a series of singles and a debut album in the works, Skott has received co-signs from mega-artists like Katy Perry and Lorde, and toured with both MØ and Phantogram. But given her upbringing, Skott continues to experience a bit of culture shock as she explores the mainstream music scene.

“There’s so much focus on the vocals and the person in pop music,” she says when I ask what surprised her the most. “It’s not so much about the writers or even the songs really sometimes.” The business of music was also a huge learning curve. “It was a shock when I realized how much about being an artist is really not about the music at all. That’s the thing I’m still struggling with,” she continues. “Society wants you to be more of an influencer than a musician. Sometimes I fantasize about being an artist in the 90s and just doing shows and not having to show your daily life always.”

Skott is hardly alone in these concerns, but her approach to tempering them is what sets her apart from other artists. “[To the industry] I would like to bring in more focus on the whole,” she says. “For example, in my [song] Bloodhound, I don’t even have words in the chorus. I wanted to use my voice as the instrument.”

To combat the pressure to be an influencer, Skott views her social media platforms as a companion to her work. “I want my Instagram to also be about the songs,” she says. “I try to think about the color and mood, and as long as I focus on the songs, it’s easier for me to see it as fun. You have to do it in a way that’s inspiring to you.”



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