Ulriqa Fernqvist is a Swedish multi-disciplinary artist, who strongest forms of expression have always been dance, theater and singing. Over the course of two-plus decade career, she has worked on an experimental, improvisational concerts, musical installations, theater and dance performances. Along with producer and collaborator Don Gog, she runs the performing arts company Art of Spectra, a company that has been invited to perform at numerous festivals, theaters and art centers around Europe.
As a pop artist, Fernqvist is the creative mastermind behind solo recording project Uma E. Her latest single, sees Fernqvist and her longtime producer and collaborator tackling a-ha‘s 1985 song “The Sun Always Shines On TV.” The original begins with a dramatic introduction featuring twinkling keys and atmospheric synths before quickly morphing into a hook-driven, prog rock-like anthem reminiscent of Yes‘ “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and Duran Duran. Clocking in at a little under six minutes, the Uma E. rendition sees the Swedish collaborators stripping the song down to the bare bones, transforming the song into a brooding and uneasy, Portishead and Massive Attack-like bit of trip hop built around thumping kick drum beats, gently twinkling synth arpeggios, grainy bass synths and atmospheric electronics paired with Uma E.’s ethereal and plaintive delivery.
“I worked in the theatre play TOUCH by Falk Richter in Germany at Münchner Kammerspiele during the pandemic. I was asked to perform the A-ha song, ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’ and it started off quite close to the original,” Fernqvist says. “I realised after a while I wanted to express the song in a different way to make it feel right. I got very attached to this song and the lyrics as it was a song I heard a lot growing up. I felt that I wanted to express it more like a poem – slower and more intimate.”
Changing the style of the song was planted in the Swedish artist’s mind, and came to fruition later that summer, when she returned to Sweden. “Me and my producer Don Gog started to experiment with what that change could be. It developed to what we came to call ‘a techno prayer’ and we started building this track with the idea that it was to be performed in this play. Later we reworked that version to make it more like a track without the theatrical context – even though those memories still live in the track. The challenging thing with the vocals was to keep it very fragile and honest even if we wanted the music to have this constant rise. It was also very interesting to blend the electronica with elements from techno.
Directed by Fofo Altinell, the accompanying video for “The Sun Always Shines On TV” is a hazy fever dream, following the Swedish artist in the countryside during golden hour.