“You are being connected to a random Swede somewhere in Sweden.” These are the words you hear when dial the phone number 0046 771 793 336, which has been set up by The Swedish Tourist Association. Members of the entire Swedish population have been invited to download an app that allows people from around the world to call them up on the above number. Go on, try it. It’s great fun, and pot luck who you wind up talking to. According to their website, The Swedish Tourist Association set up the scheme “to spark people’s curiosity about Sweden — our culture, nature and mindset. To help us do this, we have the people of Sweden.” We were pretty curious, so we called up some random Swedes – as it happened, a woman called Stina, a woman called Angelica and a man called Ola – to ask for a musical tip or two.
STINA, 31, STOCKHOLM
Hey Stina, could you give us a musical recommendation, please?
Ebbot. He’s just released a new CD and you need to listen to it. He’s a legend in Sweden, he’s been releasing music for a very long time.
What kind of music does he make?
He’s a bit rock. You should listen to him and you will know.
What’s his best song?
What’s good about that song?
You should just listen to it! It’s good. I just like it.
Okay, okay. What made you want to take part in this scheme?
I saw it on Facebook today and a lot of friends are doing it. I thought it would be a fun thing to talk to other people and see who’s calling. Who wants to call? That’s interesting.
And who else has called you today?
I’ve only had the app for one-and-a-half hours and you are person number three. One was calling from Holland and he talked about his Friday evening – he was gonna go out – and then he asked me about the Syria crisis and asked how it’s going in Sweden with immigrants and stuff like that.
What did you tell him?
I told him that I think it’s a good thing, if we can, to have people coming here. We should.
You’re the best, Stina. And what about the second person?
That was a girl from Paris who is coming to Stockholm in a few weeks. We added each other on Instagram. She was very fun and very cool. I would love to meet her here and just go out partying. She was a cool girl. I’m going on a Tinder date tonight, so we talked about that.
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Thanks Stina, have fun on your date!
ANGELICA, 31 STOCKHOLM
Hey Angelica! What’s your Swedish musical recommendation
I’m listening to a Swedish girl called Laleh. I prefer her older songs and the best one is called ‘Live Tomorrow’. There’s something mysterious about her. She’s about my age and she has a tragic background – her dad drowned when she was very young. She has one song that’s really great that’s called ’Some Die Young’. Her parents are from Iran originally I think. She just has a very interesting voice and she’s quite unique onstage.
What made you want to take this phone call?
I’m very curious in general and I’m a big fan of my own country. I used to work promoting Stockholm and I’m curious to see who will call and what kind of questions I will get. I’m an ambassador of Sweden and if I can convince someone to come here, that would be fun.
Go on, sell Sweden to us…
In Stockholm, it’s about being close to nature even though we live in the city. It’s a very green city, which means we really get to relax because we can spend a lot of time with nature. But when it comes to technology, IT innovations and music, we’re really early adopters, so it’s really fun to live in Sweden because there are so many new companies.
Cool! What’s the music scene in Stockholm like?
It’s a very small city but we always have some kind of concert going on. For example, we have an outdoor concert called Under The Bridge where we have more alternative musicians, but we also have more traditional Philharmonic music schools. We have concerts for free and big international artists come as well. So there’s something for everyone.
Sold! Thanks Angelica, you’ve done Sweden proud.
What’s your Swedish musical recommendation?
Oh, that’s interesting. You’re the fourth person to call me because of this app and just five minutes ago I was on Danish radio. So it’s awesome that you’re calling from another media.
You’re famous, Ola!
Yeah, exactly! [Laughs maniacally] Kent have been a famous Swedish band since the beginning of the ‘90s. They are doing their last tour this summer. They’re gonna stop playing together, so they kept releasing new tickets for their shows and they sold out three times. So that’s the big buzz right now.
What kind of music do Kent make?
Oh… some kind of pop. I can’t really answer that. You should try Wikipedia.
Yes, fair enough. What’s their best song?
Who else has called you today, besides us and the Danish radio station?
There was a Russian guy. He asked if I spoke Russian and I said “No” so he used Google translate. And then he said “Bye”.
A beautiful story. What kind of questions did the radio station ask?
They asked if I like Danish beer.
That’s a strong line of questioning. Do you like, erm, British fish and chips?
Yeah, although the best fish and chips I ate was in Sweden.
Bummer. Have you enjoyed taking these phone calls?
I love it! Swedish people are not supposed to speak to each other on the buses or trams and so on. It’s hard to speak to people you don’t know – people keep themselves to themselves. But I love to talk to people and make new contacts.