Icelander Guðbjörg Bubba Tómasdóttir and Swede My Larsdotter grew up close to each other in the southern part of Sweden, but never met until Bubba responded to My’s “roommate wanted” ad in Copenhagen ten years ago. Bubba moved in right away, and started eavesdropping on My as she sang while doing the dishes. Neither one of them had a music career in mind, but they started playing and singing every night after that. It was the beginning of a meaningful friendship and their journey as the established Scandinavian folk duo My Bubba.
“It was all a coincidence and feels a bit like it was meant to be, considering everything that have happened since,” My says. “Playing folk music was nothing we actively choose to do either. Bubba sang a lot of Swedish folk music when we first met, and I was listening a lot to American country and bluegrass. It came naturally that we started singing and writing songs based on those two worlds.”
My Bubba have been called this generation’s Simon & Garfunkel, and others describe their music as lullabies from the countryside. Asked how they themselves would put their work into words, they refer to a friend’s description of their music as milk from another planet—strange, but familiar. “I think that’s a very beautiful way to put it, and that’s how it feels for us as well. Something very safe and sound, but yet a bit mysterious,” Bubba says.
Like a warm hug
Folk music has traditional roots, and My Bubba like to express these timeless values in an intimate way. “We’re not trained in traditional folk music in that sense, but have adapted the American folk music perspective and its homeyness. It’s about everyday people and the music that exists in their homes with families and friends.
The expression is very simple, direct and down to earth, and we find our rendering still relevant because it’s so personal and based on our connection,” My explains.
Their soon-to-be-released self-produced album ‘My Bubba & Elsa Sing Swedish Folk Songs’, started as a hobby project with Bubba’s childhood friend Elsa Håkansson. “It’s been something we wanted to do for a long time—for our future grandchildren,” says Bubba. “But when we started recording we felt the power of the songs and wanted to share this love project with everyone.” With acoustic melodies blended with harmonic and soft voices, the songs feels like a warm hug.
Touring life and unexpected meetings
My Bubba is already at work on their next record, but they’re currently on tour in the USA. For them, life on tour differs from the stereotypical picture. Since they’re only two travelling it goes quite smoothly getting from one place to another, and allows them to be spontaneous. They’ve replaced hard liquor with coconut water, and prefer finding a yoga retreat, swimming or hiking to partying into the early hours.
The duo seem to value a balanced and relaxed life for body and soul. “It’s mostly about finding something healthy to eat, that’s still tasty. And we take turns on kneading each other’s shoulders during long waiting hours at airports”, My says while Bubba adds: “Sometimes it can of course be hectic, but we’ve a pretty good time.”
That’s not to say that My Bubba don’t get their share of craziness when out and about. “Most of the time we meet exciting people, and unexpected things tend to happen almost every day,” Bubba avers. We end up talking about when they were touring in the English countryside, and got a text message asking if Bryan Adams could call them.
“We thought it couldn’t be that Bryan Adams. But it was,” My recalls. The Canadian adult-contemporary godhead wanted to play a song with My Bubba at a surprise party. My continues the story: “There were no secret areas at the location, so we squeezed ourselves into a kitchen to practise a song to perform together. Our bassist had a major crush on Bryan Adams, and when I glance over to her I see her giant boot placed over Bryan Adams’s foot—that was in flip-flops. I whisper to her that she was literally standing on Bryan Adams’s toes. She shouted out loud, terrified over that she hadn’t noticed anything. It was quite awkward.” Turns out Bryan Adams was too polite to say anything, but he thanked My for saving his ass (read: toes). “And we didn’t learn the song, so he got to play it himself,” she finishes, laughing.
Photos by: Jamie Goodsell, Terri Loewenthal and My Bubba