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Léon is definitely not tired of talking

After her 2016 summer breakout hit, the Swedish singer-songwriter is ready for her full-length debut.
Catie Laffoon

When Sweden’s Léon posted “Tired of Talking” to Soundcloud last summer, the singer-songwriter didn’t know it would strike a nerve with empowered-female crowds. It was the first track she worked on with producing partner Agrin Rahmani and that contagiously melodic tune won the immediate attention of Columbia Records, which swooped-in and signed them.

Now, eight months and three more singles — “Nobody Cares,” “Liar” and the new “Sleep Deprived” — later, Léon is a buzzworthy artist. Her debut album is due shortly, and she and Rahmani gear up for their first huge tour that brings them to the East Coast this week. Léon phoned from Stockholm on a breezy Friday evening to discuss all of the above.

You’ve been writing songs since childhood and playing cello, and your folks come from the classical world as instrumentalists and composers. Did they absolutely shriek when you expressed an interest in pop?
Well, I played the cello, as well as my mom, and I wrote songs in all genres growing up, so there was this tear between the classical world and pop. I think they got used to me listening and loving soul music then singing in classical choirs and such. It wasn’t as though my going pop came up overnight. Plus, I think they thought it was fun.
It probably can’t hurt that you’re making money at making pop?
Well ... [laugh] that’s the goal. And my mom has played cello on some of my songs. My uncle too.
You went to school for pop music writing and production in Sweden, which I can’t help but think must have included ABBA and Max Martin in the syllabus. Was that cool?
It was. [The courses were] more of a post-high school set of classes than a college curriculum. I already had a sound, which was this soul-jazz thing, so I went to learn about the business, the studio and the art of collaboration.
And you met your producing partner there. What did you guys like about each other?
There were like 30 people in our classes, and we had as much similar about us as we had different. I was about jazz and soul with a classical background. He has an indie background.
We actually got put together by a teacher for a project. The songs that we have now were some we wrote in those classes. That’s funny to think about. “Liar” and “Tired of Talking” are both 2 years old this month.
Do you pay attention to women protesting Donald Trump and his anti-feminist, anti-abortion politics? Your work is very self-possessed when it comes to displaying a woman’s strength, and your songs are very much like anthems to this movement.
I am very aware of the woman’s movement in America, and throughout the globe. It’s natural to be a feminist in Sweden and we don’t take equality for granted. It’s great that people are taking a stand, but no one had to tell me to be feminist. Whether you’re black, white, gay, straight — equality should be a given.
So are you allowed to say where you are with the album, its title, the way the rest of the tunes sound?
I was done with it, but then suddenly, I wasn’t. I can’t say much obviously, but I am beyond excited. Honestly, I hate being secretive as you know from my songs, but it’s not just about me anymore.

If you go:

Wed. Feb 1, 9 p.m., The Sinclair, 52 Church St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. $15 www.sinclaircaimbridge.com

Thurs. Feb 2, 8:30 p.m., Boot & Saddle,1131 S Broad St., Philadelphia, PA. $12-$14, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com

Sat. Feb 4, 9 p.m., Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancy St., New York, NY. $17-$20, www.boweryballroom.com

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