Swedish Singer Pays Musical Homage to 3D Printed Tumor Models

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The benefits of modeling tumors in 3D are numerous and rarely questioned. With these innovative models, cancer researchers are better able to observe cell-to-cell interactions, growth rates, and gene expressions in 3D than they ever were in a 2D culture. Along with 3D tumor models that use live cells, the popularity of 3D printing has allowed surgeons to better plan out complicated procedures or provide superior education for medical students.

But, apparently, 3D tumor models have musical benefits as well. This incredible technology has been memorialized as part of the musical landscape by one Swedish singer-songwriter who knows the importance of such advancements.

The tune, written by Jens Lekman, serves as tribute to a personal friend who developed a tumor. He eventually had the tumor removed, but he still owns a 3D printed model of the cancerous growth.

The song “Evening Prayer” is surprisingly upbeat, given its subject matter, and is in the style of 70s disco. That contrast is intentional, though. While another artist might have turned the material into a predictably mournful ballad, Lekman wanted the song to have a pop feel, full of vibrancy and life.

Lekman says of the song’s conception to NPR:

The idea of printing out something that’s as scary as a tumor into its concrete form was something that spoke to me — there is something very liberating about that idea. I think a lot of my anxieties and fears are things that are very abstract. Of the times that I’ve been able to overcome a fear, it’s been by making it something that I can understand, that I can hold on to — just something that’s more tangible.

While other musical artists have featured 3D printing in various forms — Björk’s latest world tour included 3D printed elements and Feral Five’s electronic music uses sound bites of operating 3D printers in their songs — Lekman seems to be the first to mention the practice in song lyrics.

“Evening Prayer” appears on Lekman’s just-released fourth album, Life Will See You Now. The singer started touring the U.S. on February 23 with a show in Houston, Texas. Several of his shows have already sold out.

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