That Place Where

Despite its humble size, Stockholm is home to some of the world’s most successful artists, music producers and music tech startups. This is a celebration of this talented group of individuals and their history.

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That place where Avicii wrote Levels, or where Lykke Li sang gospel? Stockholm is covered with places of musical relevance. In 2015, six out of the ten top recording artists in the world had a connection to Stockholm. Here’s the story behind some of them.

First Aid Kit

Place: Svedmyra Forest

In 2008 the two sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg walked out into the forest right outside their house and recorded a cover of the Fleet Foxes’ hit Tiger Mountain Peasant Song. "This is for you, Fleet Foxes", they said into the camera, "it’s a little gift from us". Since its recording, their cover has been viewed over 4.5 million times.

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First Aid Kit & Patti Smith

Place: Stockholm Concert Hall

Patti Smith came to Stockholm in 2011 to receive the Polar Music Prize. Being long-time fans of this music legend, First Aid Kit performed a cover of the song Dancing Barefoot during the award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall – a performance so full with emotion that it brought Patti to tears.

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Place: Kammakargatan 12

In 1962 Etta James released Something's Got a Hold on Me, which she sang so loudly during recording that the microphone membrane melted. 49 years later, a teenager named Tim Bergling sat in his tiny apartment on Kammakargatan and puzzled over the vocal track, or "vowel" as he calls it. Tim tried to work the Etta James sample into his songs, without any success. Suddenly one night he got a got it: he added the "vowel" to a new synth loop he had just created, and the global hit Levels was born.

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Mapei & Lykke Li

Place: Tensta Kyrka

Tensta Gospel Choir, with its base in Tensta Kyrka in a northern suburb of Stockholm, has been the breeding ground for numerous succesfull artists, including Lykke Li, Mapei and Sabina Ddumba. For a chance to see the next big star and to be a part of a glorius musical experience be sure to attend one of their concerts.

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Seinabo Sey

Place: Fryshuset

Fryshuset is a high school in Södra Hammarbyhamnen that prepares students for work as professional musicians. The school’s most recent star is Seinabo Sey, who never planned to attend the school but thought the building itself was so cool that she applied to the soul music program. Her massive, soulful voice has earned her first album serious critical acclaim, and her single Younger has topped the charts.

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Zara Larsson

Place: Kulturama

Zara Larsson was attending the Royal Swedish Ballet School when she won ”Sweden’s Got Talent” in 2008. Having spent 25 hours a week practicing ballet, she decided to quit in order to focusing completely on singing and writing. One of her first steps was attending Kulturama School in Södra Hammarbyhamnen saying "I knew all along that I was going to become a singer, and even though I never wanted to be a ballerina it’s good to know how to dance as an artist too".

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Cheiron Studios

Place: Drottningholmsvägen 35

The legendary Cheiron Studios was located right on Drottningholmsvägen 35 on Kungsholmen. When the metal fan Max Martin came to Cheiron Studios for the first time, he got to hear them mixing the world hit The Sign by Ace of Base. There and then he realized there was something to pop music that he hadn’t quite seen before. A couple of years later he and Rami Yacoub created ...Baby One More Time – the mere start of his lifelong Billboard domination.

Sebastian Ingrosso

Place: Grevgatan 5

At an early age, Sebastian Ingrosso first began creating music in his dad Vito’s studios. He had known Steve Angello since they were both eight years old, and they'd meet in these studios, fighting over who had better taste in music. Until one day, when they found a Daft Punk single that blew them both away. This was the start of a musical journey that would give the world Swedish House Mafia. 

Swedish House Mafia

Place: Friends Arena

Friends Arena located north of Stockholm is the largest music venue in Stockholm. It’s where Swedish House Mafia played three sold-out gigs during their last tour as a group. During one performance, they had the whole stadium sit down and, on their signal, jump up in unison and dance together to the song Don’t You Worry Child. Axwell said afterwards that the sight of 40,000 people standing up together as one brought him close to tears.

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Rebecca & Fiona + Robyn

Place: Berns

Berns is a gorgeous entertainment mecca in well-preserved art nouveau style from the 1860s, boasting a vast dining room and numerous bars, clubs, cafés and alfresco areas in summer. This is where Rebecca & Fiona stood was the opening act for fellow Stockholmer Robyn during her Body Talk Tour in 2010. A performance that turned out to be the duos big breakthrough.

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Music Tech

There are over 1,000 people working in the vibrant Stockholm tech and music scene today. Companies like Spotify, Teenage Engineering, ZoundIndustries and a long line of other players are constantly breaking new ground where music and tech meet. Learn about a few of their origin stories here.


Place: Dansens Hus

In one of the offices above Dansens hus, Stockholm’s largest venue for contemporary dance, the two Spotify founders met for the first time. Daniel Ek had contacted the company Tradedoubler to discuss how to earn money optimizing search traffic. This turned out to be something Tradedoubler’s Martin Lorentzon loved to talk about, and though they didn’t know it at the time, this meeting would later mark the start of a revolution in online music streaming.

Teenage Engineering - OP-1

Place: Katarina Bangata 71

In a 550 square meter garage, Jesper Kouthoofd, David Eriksson and Jens Rudberg found the empty space with concrete floors and no windows that they had always been searching for. A space they could treat as an blank canvas for any and every idea. From here came the OP-1, a synthesizer that has changed digital music making forever.

Zound Industries

Place: Solgrillen

In 2008,  Oscar Axhede helped found Zound Industries (maker of Urbanears, Coloud, Marshall Headphones). Even though the neighborhood of Hornstull has since transformed from a worn out and scruffy part of town into one of the most sought-after places to live, some things have stayed the same. Solgrillen is one. This is the fast food shack that fed Oscar and his partners in the early days of the business. Don’t miss out on Oscar’s favorite – a fish roll with almond potatoes and fried cod wrapped in Swedish flatbread. 


Place: Heleneborgsgatan 3

In the energetic Hornstull area on Södermalm, you find a quiet refuge on the block around Heleneborgsgatan 3, complete with a local Italian place for any coffee need and a traditional Indian place for lunch. Ten years ago, in one of the small offices in the neighborhood, Eric Wahlforss and Alexander Ljung spent day and night planning and testing the early version of their music streaming service later known as SoundCloud.

Zound Industries

Solgrillen, or “The Sun Grill”, is a culinary staple of the Hornstull area of southern Stockholm. This tiny food shack has been around forever, and apart from being a great place to grab lunch, it’s also the birthplace of one of Stockholm’s most successful music tech startups: Zound Industries.

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Humble beginnings

Back in 2008, Oscar Axhede and his friend Konrad Bergström had an idea: What if you could create headphones that merged music and fashion? What if you could move away from the standard black, white or grey and create something much more personal?

Zound Industries emerged as an answer to these questions. And during the first years of being in business, Solgrillen in Hornstull offered the perfect environment to nourish their big ideas: great grub and plenty of relaxation along Hornstull’s sunlit shore.

The company

Zound Industries see themselves as more than just a company. They’re an incubator, currently responsible for four different brands, all focused on sound. Perhaps their most famous creations are the fashionable, now-ubiquitous headphones Urbanears, where awesome design meets smart features and a huge range of colors.

One sun roll, please

Solgrillen’s famous “Sun Rolls”, a one-of-a-kind specialty made with fish, sausage, kebab or veggies, is just one of the many reasons why running your company from inside a food shack might seem like a great idea. However, as Oscar has recently discovered, one of these decadent morsels per week is about as much as he can handle.


What was once considered a worn-down, scruffy part of Stockholm has since transformed into one of the most vibrant areas in the city, with new bars and restaurants popping up by the day. And yet, Solgrillen persists despite this massive growth. As Oscar puts it: “In the middle of all the circus, Solgrillen is still standing strong”.

Guide to Hornstull

Teenage Engineering

Katarina Bangata winds diagonally across Södermalm. Right before it the street finally ends, in the south of the south, lies the office of rebelliously stylish electronics company Teenage Engineering. Here is the birthplace of the OP-1, a revolutionary synthesizer that has changed digital music production forever.

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The creative bunker

They weren’t sure exactly what they were going to do in there, but when Stockholmers Jesper Kouthoofd, David Eriksson and Jens Rudberg first found the place, they fell in love with it straight away. The 550 square meter space used to be a car garage; there were no windows, and both the floors and the walls were made of cold concrete. For some, this would be the most uninviting place imaginable. But for the founders of Teenage Engineering, it was what they’d always been looking for: a blank canvas. According to Jens: ”It felt like an unlimited space to us back then, where we could create anything”.

A new icon

The portable synthesizer OP-1 was an instant hit. Upon its release, they sold hundreds of thousands of copies almost instantly. It’s no surprise why. The OP-1 looks a bit like a video game console – its grey plastic frame and colorful buttons remind you what it was like to hold a Game Boy back in the day. But it’s not just a toy. This powerful synthesizer is used by both professional musicians and DJs, along with the bedroom amateurs.

No room for Lamborghinis

Their blank canvas has changed over the years. A big skylight was installed to let in some daylight, and 30 designers, engineers and creatives from several countries now work together in a real office landscape. But it wasn’t always like that. ”At first, Jesper had his Lamborghini collection here, and David also brought his cars”, explains Jens, who used the space to keep a record collection matching that used up by the cars. As the company grew, they had to make space for other things. But you can still find a few electric cars parked around the desks, used for transporting employees around the city for meetings and deliveries. They also demand less space and attention than old sports cars.


Just off a high-end shopping street lies the little jewelry shop, Antikt gammalt och nytt– one of Stockholm’s hidden treasures. Owned by two brothers, the shop sells an eclectic collection of jewelry and trinkets, both new and old. This place has also been a part of singer and songwriter Mapei’s life and influenced her ever since her early teenage years.

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A place for celebrities and gemstones

Inside the store, masks, hats and golden mannequins make you feel like you’re in a Jeunet film. All in all, thousands of unique pieces of jewelry decorate the store’s racks. Many Stockholm celebrities come here for just as many reasons. But if you ask the owners whether this or that artist has been seen there, the answer is bound to be cryptic; they never reveal the names of their customers. When Mapei walks through the door, however, their eyes betray a happy recognition before she is left to browse like any other customer.

New ideas from old styles

Mapei has been shopping here for as long as she can remember. As a teenager she would dress up like her idols in the hip hop and R&B scene. Inspired by the samples from old jazz songs by legendary musicians like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, she turned to the antique shop to copy the styles of the greats. "In a way," Mapei said, "hip hop is a lot like vintage clothing. You reuse the old things that deserve another life."

Keeping it cool

One day while Mapei was at the shop, she witnessed a girl acting very disrespectfully to one of the owners. Mapei overheard the owner asking the girl to leave – with the same dignity and class as always. This experience made an impression on her, so much that she wrote a song about it: ”Keep It Cool”. The song is about various characters in Stockholm that, for whatever reason, are able to keep their cool instead of lashing out. ”I don’t know if it’s the climate or what, but I like that about Stockholmers,” she says. “They always keep their cool."

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