Laleh Pourkarim ( born 10 June 1982) is a Swedish singer-songwriter and former actress. Following a short acting career, she entered the music industry in 2005 with her self-titled debut album which peaked at number one in Sweden and went on to become the highest selling album of the year.
Singer, producer, songwriter, and musician Laleh Pourkarim has a back-story that could be the plot of a sprawling war-time novel. She was born in Iran to democratic activist parents, including a journalist/artist father. The family lived in hiding before fleeing, after Laleh’s birth, to Azerbaijan, then to Minsk, where Laleh has memories of Soviet bread lines and squat government housing. When she was nine, the Pourkarims moved to Sweden (family lore has it that her mother chose Sweden because she was a fan of ABBA), where Laleh spent several years crammed into a house with other political refugees. “I actually remember the day we went to the police station, reported ourselves, and requested citizenship,” she says. “It was this moment of, ‘What are they going to do? Are they going to be angry? Are they going to take care of us?’”
But despite everything she’s been through, Laleh insists her story doesn’t dictate her songs. “It’s a talent, writing the songs,” she says. “I didn’t want to diminish myself as a person because I don’t want to be just my story. I want to be myself. I am a human being first, then my story — not the opposite. I always want the freedom to reinvent myself, to give myself a second chance, or rewrite the story in another way. That freedom to redefine oneself, that is what I’m always writing about.”
Her ability to transcend her experiences, in addition to the thoughtful and elegant way she expresses herself, is what makes Laleh a true artist. Her soaring, richly textured pop songs, like “Elephant,” “Colors,” and the haunting “Boom,” are filled with evocative imagery and recall the lyrical and sonic adventurousness of artists like Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, and Björk — inventive boundary pushers whose work manages to remain both grounded and uplifting.
American audiences will get their first taste of Laleh’s artistry with the release of her five-song debut EP on Island Records. She writes, plays, records, produces, and engineers every note of her music herself in her studio in Stockholm. She built the studio with money from her advance from her deal with Warner Sweden, which she signe