Benjamin Reichwald, the Swedish musician known as Bladee and a founding member of the online music collective Drain Gang, is adept at sending memes. According to his countryman Jonas Rönnberg, who also performs as Varg2™, Bladee sends out the best memes of anyone he’s ever known.
“Every time Benjamin sends me a meme, I say, ‘No, really.’ Because the thing is, he’s fast,” Varg said. “We can chat in the studio and then an hour later, I’m lying in bed smoking, I’m going to open my phone and Benjamin sends a meme, which is totally a low shot of exactly what I’m doing. speak. And I was like, ‘Damn it. What the hell? Where do you keep this?’ That’s something that can translate well to us doing art and making music. That’s Benjamin’s quickness.”
Bladee met Varg through Stockholm’s graffiti scenes and tight knightly music, which also spawned rapper Yung Lean and his band Sadboys, as well as Bladee’s childhood classmate and Drain Gang member Eco2k. All of these artists have racked up millions of streams with fantastical, super-processed music about the dreary misery (and sometimes beauty) of growing up in Sweden— has an international appeal, thanks to the dull misery (and sometimes beauty) of growing up in most places.
Although Drain Gang was founded in 2013, their popularity skyrocketed during the pandemic, when from the firestorm of Reddit, Discord and TikTok emerged. a new generation by Drainers, which are largely considered bored teenage and 20-year-old boys. For Drain Gang, Sad Boys and their ilk, what began with sharing challenging, high-pitched songs on Soundcloud has become, in the shadow of Abba, Robyn and Max Martin, a continuation. Sweden’s great tradition of creating pop music in English music is enjoyed all over the world.
Bladee herself appeared on two tracks with EDM superstar Skrillex earlier this year, and now seems to be on the cusp of being a true pop star — or at least as close to any fiendish artist as possible. What can be achieved in the streaming era. But when Bladee and Varg’s label asked them to record an album a year ago, they started painting together instead. Now, they hold a joint show in The Hole’s Tribeca fashion gallery.