It’s difficult to talk about Luminous Kid, the stage name of Swedish singer-songwriter Olof Grind, without talking about Phoebe Bridgers. The indie phenom has a way of catching the audience’s attention (see: the guitar smash on SNL and her subsequent beef with David Crosby), and in his other calling as a photographer Olof shot the cover art of Bridgers’ instant-classic Punisher. But it does Olof a disservice to reduce him to his collaborators: he’s a strong songwriter in his own right, and “Mountain Crystals,” a new song featuring Bridgers, proves it.
It’s a poppier effort than you might expect, but it wears it well: there are plenty of hooks that stick in the mind, as well as some strong lyrics delivered with obvious sincerity. “Mountain Crystals” is filled with jangly guitar, twee melodies, and some lovely turns of phrases like “our hearts stretched out further than the light.” In his unassuming-yet-earnest delivery, Luminous Kid sounds like a tenor counterpart to Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, and there’s more than enough sweetness to make that comparison feel earned. When Bridgers comes in for some (quite lovely) backing vocals, it almost feels like gilding the lily.
What was the story behind “Mountain Crystals?”
When I found the melody and guitar pattern for the song I did some voice memos of it, but initially I thought it was too cheery and happy, so I continued working on other songs. But a few months later I picked it up again and started writing about a relationship I was contemplating. Around the same time I embarked on the trip to LA to get away from everything in Sweden for a bit and to shoot the cover of Phoebe’s album. The second night after I arrived Phoebe invited me to a party at Conor Oberst’s house, where I ended up having a psychedelic experience where my thoughts kept spinning around my relationship. So already at the party I started to scribble down some lyrics for the song, and it was finished just a few days later. Entering the studio I told my producer that we should go all in with the production to make the soundscape a bit trippy and intense, and I came out with “Mountain Crystals” on the other side. I had sketched up a spoken word outro that I wanted to have as a feature, and while finishing up the record, Phoebe asked me to send it over to her. She gave really sweet feedback and quoted a line from Mountain Crystals. My first thought was to ask if she wanted to contribute with the spoken word part, since the song came to be in it’s form thanks to her. It felt like a really nice way of closing the circle. I hesitated a bit before I asked her, but when she stated in an interview with the Swedish magazine “HYMN” that “Olof Grind makes incredibly beautiful music as Luminous Kid and I just want to tell everyone in America about it”, I took the courage and just texted to see if she was down. And she was!
Is there a meaning behind your stage name, Luminous Kid?
The stage name comes from when I was traveling around in South America to write my album. I met this Colombian guy that I hung out with for a bit, and he told me that I had a luminous aura and started calling me “luminous kid,” I thought it was catchy and also liked the idea of using a name that was given to me while writing my album. My real name felt so connected to my photography, so I wanted to find a fun stage name to go by.
What was it like working with Phoebe Bridgers?
Phoebe is such an amazing person to hang and work with, we’ve had such great times road-tripping and shooting in California and London. For the feature on my song, obviously we couldn’t meet up to work on it together because of the pandemic, so I just sent the project to her and she sent back the recorded lines for the spoken word. She delivered it exactly the way I wanted it, so it was all good and easy.
What are your favorite lyrical themes to work with?
The most fun part of lyrics are to capture a person and a story, but still trying to tangle it up in beautiful sentences and words to have a mixture of poetry and direct storytelling. I mostly write from my own experiences and people surrounding me, but the message is supposed to be universal, so some stories are fictional as well to convey the message I want. I tend to gravitate towards queer love stories a lot, I think that it’s really important for queer stories to take up space in popular culture to continue working towards a completely open and non-judgmental society.
What are your hopes for the future?
My hopes for the future are mostly to be able to continue to create freely within my own space. It’s such a luxury to discover the world through creation, and not to limit yourself to a specific form of expression, but to continue exploring through curiosity. I mostly hope I’ll never lose my infinite curiosity towards the world and the people living in it.