For years, Jon Strand has shared his music with Indianapolis listeners, playing stages large and small as a member of the electronic pop duo COASTL. But now, through the most unexpected of circumstances, the Hoosier native has found himself gaining a new audience of fans overseas, thanks to his participation in the much-loved Swedish reality TV show Allt för Sverige.
Currently five episodes into Season 10, Allt för Sverige documents the experiences and stories of 10 Americans of Swedish descent as they trace their family roots all over Sweden. While the show concentrates on place and ancestral origins, it does still contain a competitive element, where one person is sent home each episode after competing in challenges that range from memory puzzle games to racing cars on an offroad mud track.
Still on the show through Episode 5, Strand is looking to advance to the Allt för Sverige finale, which airs on March 6. As a grand prize, the winner of the Emmy Award–winning show receives a Swedish family reunion, where the show hunts down all of their living relatives in Sweden and brings them in for a party. (Although the show has already been filmed, Strand cannot contractually disclose how far he makes it in Season 10 of Allt för Sverige until the final episode has aired.)
With a father who worked for famed evangelist Billy Graham, Strand and his family moved a great deal during his childhood, with Strand attending three different middle schools and three different high schools. A graduate of Hamilton Southeastern High School, he humorously recalls the first time he decided to try playing music.
“When I was 16, I saw an Abercrombie ad with a guy playing guitar surrounded by girls,” he says with a laugh. “I was like, ‘That’s how you do it!’ Quickly, it became all about the guitar, and I didn’t care about the girls. I just fell in love with writing music.”
In the coming years, Strand gave the singer-songwriter and alt-rock paths a try, before eventually landing in the arena of electronic pop music. Both producers in their own right, Strand and Dustin Franklin teamed up in 2014 to start his current project, COASTL, who have opened for such marquee names as Ludacris and Panic! at the Disco. Recently, Strand has also begun collaborating with other local artists like Etta Marie and Jason Aaron Coons, inviting them into a studio he built near Thunderbird in Fountain Square to work out songs.
“The best investment is if you invest in other people,” Strand says. “Invest in yourself and invest in people you really believe in. It’ll have far greater return than the stock market. So we’ve used this studio to develop a couple artists that we think are really good.”
Sweden’s most popular reality TV show, Allt för Sverige had over 1.5 million people tune in for its Season 10 debut, an episode in which Indianapolis is displayed prominently thanks to Strand. With this in mind, the Indy artist intends to continue showcasing the music he’s been working on to this new set of interested ears.
“I’m just used to flying under the radar in Indianapolis,” Strand says. “Not that it’s crazy fame, but it now takes me a while every day just to respond to all the Facebook and Instagram messages I get. It’s just been this really incredible outpouring of love from the country.”
While the show has given his music career a boost, Strand also admits he came back home to Indianapolis after his Allt för Sverige experience feeling more at peace with himself as well.
“I came away having a deeper understanding of who I am in finding out there are things about me that go back generations, like some of these character traits of persistence,” Strand says. “It hasn’t been an easy road for me in life as far as losing loved ones, and even with music. But I found out that people in my family…they just persist. They keep pushing and keep moving forward. That is me to a T. I just won’t give up.”