Hooja: Never been epadunk

Facts: Whoa

Secret duo from Gällivare consisting of singer and rapper Hooja and producer DJ Mårdhund. They themselves describe their music as forest disco.

Hit big last year. Made his first concert in front of an audience of 10,000 people at Brännbollsyran in Umeå this summer. Became last year’s most wanted artist in “Musikhjälpen”.

Songs in selection: “Donkey Kong”, “Banana melon kiwi & lemon”, “At the disco”, “Deliver”, “Where the pike swims”, “Into the fog”.

Current: Performs on P3 Guld which is broadcast from Partille Arena in Gothenburg on January 27. Goes out with own tour package “Hoojafest” with premiere in Härnösand February 17.

One of the country’s biggest pop stars right now wears a fur hat, a scooter mask and a rural jacket from Helly Hansen, and he’s got half the population raving about different fruits as a mantra.

But the Hooja fever does not seem to have infected the guards at Radiohuset in Stockholm. Instead, they brusquely wonder who would dare to step into a nationally protected object with a mask over their face.

– I do not know. It was you who invited us, mutters he, who calls himself Hooja, when he later tells about the meeting.

Together with his equally secretive friend DJ Mårdhund, he forms the duo Hooja and now they are on a quick visit to talk about P3 Guld. There they will play at the same time, as they are nominated in the category artist/group of the year.

Hooja and DJ Mårdhund want to keep their true real identities secret. “You don’t want that spotlight when you go to Coop alone and buy ideal macarons,” says Mårdhund.

Started with rock

In 2022, they were responsible for one of the country’s biggest breakthroughs. The successes have come faster than they themselves have had time to grasp, says Hooja. As recently as last year, he was sitting at home in Gällivare and watching the gala on TV.

— And a year later, you’re standing there yourself. It’s crazy.

DJ Mårdhund, or “Mårdis”, as he is just as often called, agrees.

“Sometimes it’s like we don’t have time to think, and that’s probably a good thing,” he says.

At the same time, they are not beginners. The producer Mardhund and the rapper and singer Hooja have been together for a long time. From the beginning they found themselves in the “rock quagmire”, with a great shared love of Smashing Pumpkins. Over time, they have been drawn towards electronic dance music with clear roots in their home regions in the Malmfälten.

They are also well aware that the hype around them can die out just as quickly, Hooja explains.

— You’re still a bit realistic. Everything goes in cycles. Each thing has its time. We understand that this won’t last forever.

Hooja has had a big hit with the song “Banana melon kiwi & lemon”, which like most of their other works is about alcohol. “I think it’s part of the culture. At home you don’t go out and just have a beer,” says Mårdhund.

Anonymous existence

They keep their real identities secret. Not that they have had to sweep up the tracks very thoroughly. The fans usually leave them alone anyway.

— You don’t want that spotlight when you’re just by yourself and go to Coop and buy ideal macarons. People are actually pretty cool who respect that. Then there are those who don’t, but it’s up to them and there are a hell of a lot of people who have our backs and understand why we do the whole thing, says Mårdhund.

TT: But how much of the success lies in the masks do you think?

— That it’s sort of a little mysterious? Well, it can be, says Hooja.

DJ Mårdhund adds that the masks and anonymity also allow them to vent sides they didn’t really dare to show before.

– You have never been one to dance at the dance. And that’s perhaps historically not done where we’re from. There you stand along the wall. But now with this, I think we have gained good momentum. And you like it, you’re not ashamed to say that. It’s really fun to keep dancing and stuff, he says.

Same without a mask

Their alter egos are also not very different from their real selves, Hooja attests. Although it’s hard to party that much when you usually have to get up and get things done the next day.

— Our loved ones say that it’s not far from how we are if you remove the mask, he says.

A large part of the success lies in people recognizing themselves in the music, they believe. The lyrics have a distinct Norrbothnian perspective, but after a few tour laps around Sweden, they note that life in the sparsely populated areas is quite similar to what it looks like in small towns and in the countryside pretty much everywhere in the country.

But the genre description “epadunk” seems to be a bit difficult for them.

– Our Poles don’t seem to think it fits, they say we are not and have never been epadunk. I don’t know what the definition is or what criteria you have to meet, says Hooja.

The Gällivare duo Hooja had their big breakthrough last year.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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