Winona Oak Talks Sharing Grief on Heartbreaking EP ‘Void,’ the Reign of Swede Pop & More (Exclusive Interview)

Winona Oak provides an unflinching look at the grief that she’s experienced since the death of her mother on her new EP Void.

Out Friday (May 3), the project is the latest from the Swedish songstress, who fans will recognize from her duet “Hope” with The Chainsmokers.

On it, her wistful voice and evocative lyrics are at their most heart-wrenching as she processes the loss of one of the closest people in her life to cancer.

For instance, focus track “Who Would I Be” is a soaring anthem that finds her dreaming of a chance to leave her nightmares behind in favor of a happier story. Poignant and relatable, it’s quality music with the most heart.

“I am really proud of this EP. It’s been the worst year of my life. So I can’t believe I put it all together somehow. I don’t understand how I did it sometimes,” she told us in an exclusive interview.

Ahead of the EP’s release, we caught up with Winona to talk about her creative process and how it felt to share such an intimate body of work.

She also spoke about the reign of Swedish hitmakers in the music industry and weighed in on if she was interested in working with The Chainsmokers again while discussing a foray deeper into dance music under the moniker Oaks. It’s already yielded collaborations with the likes of Martin Garix and Robin Schulz. Could a “Hope” sequel be in the future?

Head inside to read Winona Oak’s interview with Just Jared…

Just Jared: It is incredible that you’ve created something so beautiful with all the trauma that you experienced.

Winona Oak: That means so much. It’s been really, really, really hard. But I think music is so healing in so many ways. It’s like a therapy session, almost… Writing and just getting it all out there.

Everything that you keep on the inside, just getting it out and venting. So I think it’s also a good way of like, processing all the emotions and all the heavy stuff.

JJ: Does it feel healing for you to have released the music?

WO: I think so. I feel like I am sharing parts of me with the world. And I feel like a lot of people that are going through the same things have been reaching out to me. It’s just, it’s beautiful to share something that other people can connect with. And we can kind of carry all this darkness, like we can carry it together in a way. We share it.

JJ: Was it ever difficult to imagine releasing the EP since it is so intimate and kind of fragile?

WO: I mean, both yes and no. I’d rather just write about what I’m going through and keep it authentic and keep it real than just writing about stuff that I can’t relate to right now. And right now I’m just in such crisis; like everything’s kind of upside down. And so it would feel weird for me to [write about anything not authentic]. So I think it’s beautiful to share both the light and the heavy. I have so many things on my mind all the time that I just want to get, get out there.

But it’s hard because it’s so fragile. Like you said, it’s like being so completely vulnerable and, and almost like naked, you know? Showing your rawest emotions and all the deepest traumas with the world. It’s scary because people will always like find things and judge you, but they will do that either way.

JJ: Is there a song that you’re most excited for people to hear on Void?

WO: Oh, it’s so hard. I was very, very excited to share “If I Were to Die” with people. I’m just very, very happy that it’s out in the world. But I think everything is… it’s just all the songs on it.

JJ: There’s a cinematic quality to the music. I read that you imagined it like the soundtrack to a scene in a movie. Is that something that you often do with your music? Do you picture scenes for them for them?

WO: Yeah. If I listen to a song… When I write it, and I listen to it, and I can see what kind of movie it would be in, or like a movie scene in front of me… That’s when I know that I love the song. It’s like a test almost – if I don’t get any images, I know the song isn’t good enough. I actually also love writing songs with movies on silent.

Just sometimes, you know, just having beautiful movies in the background while I’m writing for inspiration.

JJ: Was there anything in particular that you found yourself watching frequently while you were working on the EP?

WO: I love Perks of Being a Wallflower. The movie is so beautiful. And even The Notebook. And Euphoria, just having Euphoria on the background.

JJ: When you listen to a song, the first thing that you notice are the lyrics? Who would you say you are some of the lyricists that you find the most inspiring right now?

WO: There’s so many good writers. I love Billie Eilish, the way that she and her brother write songs. They’re so like so raw and like metaphoric. I think Lana Del Rey is an excellent writer. She’s incredible.

And then Christine and the Queens, Tove Lo… And so many incredible writers.

When I was younger… I still am obsessed with Leonard Cohen. His writing is very poetic. I just love that storytelling writing. It’s when you can feel the lyrics in your soul, and you know that the writers feel what they write about.

JJ: Would you say that being back home in Sweden has changed the way you approach your music at all?

WO: Definitely because I feel like writing in LA is different. I have incredible producers and writers in LA that I love working with. But I think here it’s just more relaxed. And it just comes more naturally.

In LA, I think it was more like, let’s write a hit. Like what’s popular right now,

JJ: So much so much good pop music comes from Sweden.

WO: Yeah, it’s crazy. And maybe we’re so bored here because of the weather [laughs]. Or maybe, like the melancholic… It’s very Swedish. The darkness and melancholic vibe.

JJ: You’ve launched another artist project and are releasing dance songs under the name Oaks. Can you imagine doing another collaboration with The Chainsmokers?

WO: I would definitely do another song with them. It’s been five years. I think you can do as many songs as you want if you find a collaboration that works. Yeah, I would definitely do another song with them. That’s on my list.

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