Swedish artist Mats Dernánd's new single 'Joybells' is a 60's gospel that’s been transformed into a modern singer / songwriter song about exclusion and belonging and about growing up.
"It's a true story from my own teenage years", says Mats. "I was bullied at school, but meeting with a specific gospel choir was the beginning of a change in my life."
The choir in question is Joybells, Sweden's first gospel choir, which is still active. A new generation of singers participates in the song. The choir took its name from a 60's gospel that was for a long time the choir's signature tune. In Mat's version however, it has been extensively redesigned.
"I really like the original, a slightly hysterical old school gospel that is quite odd in its structure. It really has no verses but is more like an ongoing chorus with variations. I have kept parts of the chorus, but most of the rest is written by me."
Mats tells in "Joybells" about bullying and Sunday anxiety but also how the meeting with the choir and the congregation gave him a new community and a renewed faith in himself.
"The original song is about the joy bells ringing after the meeting with Jesus. It's great, but my song is also about something else, about my own journey as a teenager. The bells that ring in the text become a metaphor for change in my own life."
Joybells is released on all streaming platforms and is available in a Swedish and an English version.