That The 405 is a supporter of iamamiwhoami is old news. What makes for newer news, if you like, is that Claes Björklund, the heretofore hidden-by-choice half of the Swedish audiovisual act, will - in two weeks' time - be bringing out his first solo project, under the moniker Barbelle.

After a fairly long period of silence, during which the mystery of iamamiwhoami grew and evolved, Björklund's partner, Jonna Lee, eventually began to open up to interviewers about iam's work and vision. Björklund, however, chose to remain firmly behind the scenes, present only in the quintessentially Scandi-electro production of his and Lee's three albums, bounty, kin and BLUE, over which he presided.

That is, until now. To mark the forthcoming release of Barbelle's debut single, 'OHWHYYEAH', Björklund has agreed to a chat with The 405 for his first ever interview and to unveil the project's artwork (designed by Russian artist, Nikita Kolomin), which you can see below. The track had its first, unofficial airing yesterday, at Björklund and Lee's label, To whom it may concern.'s one-off Pop-Up Store event in Stockholm but we'll be bringing you its formal premiere here on The 405 in the first week of April.

Hello Claes. How are you?

I'm very well, thank you.

Congratulations on your forthcoming solo debut, 'OHWHYYEAH'. Does it feel odd or daunting to step out from behind the scenes as producer to the forefront as an artist in your own right?

No, not at all. It feels great and exciting.

When did you first start thinking of Barbelle as a project you'd like to pursue?

This project has developed during the little free time I've had through the past year. The process has been kind of a sanctuary where I can explore my personal musical ideas and moods.

You chose the very lagom way of sort-of/kind-of announcing Barbelle in the small-print of the first necessities video...

Yes. I prefer a low-key appearance in all aspects, including my artistry.

Can you tell me a bit about the name Barbelle?

I wanted a name that had a softer, more stereotypically feminine ring to it and thought of it. As the English translation of it is completely the opposite, it made for an interesting paradox.

When writing and producing your solo material, have you found yourself approaching the process differently than when working on music for iamamiwhoami or your collaborations with Tobias Isaksson or Zoo Brazil, for example?

Yes, absolutely. The process is more direct and driven by spontaneous impulses. When collaborating, one needs to adapt and respect the collaborators' ideas and wishes, which can be good thing, but sometimes it's great to just let your own ideas flow free as just expressing what's in your head.

What is your vision for Barbelle, in terms of the soundscapes you'd like to explore with the music?

My vision is to create a contemporary reminiscence of Satie's 'Musique D'ameublement', which is music that doesn't chafe, but still creates a distinct mood, like Scritti Politti did in the 80's.

You've contributed some vocals to a couple of iamamiwhoami tracks in the past. Will we get you singing more frequently on Barbelle material?

Yes, my attempt at singing will emerge from the vast abyss of Barbelle. Maybe there will be other vocalists too!

'OHWHYYEAH' is coming out on your and Jonna's label, To whom it may concern., which straddles the audiovisual format. Do you intend for your tracks to have a visual counterpart in the same way that iamamiwhoami songs do?

Visuals are great for enhancing soundscapes, so yes, in some form there will always be visuals.

One of the striking things about To whom it may concern. and its operation is that it embraces and helps to push the digital revolution in the music industry, rather than trying to resist it. Where do you see the industry heading in, say, 5 years?

I believe that streaming and subscription-based using of content is the current and future way of distributing digital media. No way around that. We are currently in the middle of the maturing process, where the old business model of ownership is being replaced by usage rights.

Do you reckon most artists will move on to self-releasing, like you do, instead of relying on major labels?

I see no reason why artists shouldn't be independent from major labels.

You didn't take iamamiwhoami's last album, BLUE, on the road. Instead, you created an acclaimed online concert streamed to fans worldwide for free on your website. Do you think touring can be a sustainable venture?

Yes, absolutely, but not necessarily. Touring can be a great way of bringing your music to the audience. But not all music is meant to be performed on stage. In the case of CONCERT IN BLUE we felt that the streamed format we used allowed us to connect with all [our] followers and be able to create the concert we wanted, instead of taking a stripped-down version of it to a few countries and exclude many.

And, finally, I've got to ask - what's next for you and Jonna as iamamiwhoami?

As always, when it comes to iamamiwhoami: who knows.


Barbelle's 'OHWHYYEAH' comes out on 8 April on To whom it may concern. and will be premiered exclusively on The 405 on 6 April. You can pre-order the track here. The illustration found at the top of the page was created by Mark Belan.