So I know there´s been a lot of music posting today. Haha. But I cant help it. So here is another beautiful song by the great norwegian artist Susanne Sundfør. She has an amazing voice! Before here last record came out I interviewed her in Norway for smug.no. I have now translated it to english. So here you are. Hope you enjoy it!
SUSANNE SUNDFØR INTERVIEW
She has been called an angry feminist and criticized for being to reserved on stage. But Susanne Sundfør proved a be very nice, down to earth and bubbly when RUDE visited her to talk about her new album. It ended with coffee, wine, smoking and philosophical thoughts about the world and life on her balcony.
In 2007 she had her debut with the album Susanne Sundfør, which later same year was awarded Grammy in the category of Best Female Artist. “I am first and foremost an artist – not a woman” was her response. This created debate and consequently she was later described as an angry feminist. The following year she released the album Take One (2008) and two years later came The Brothel (2010).
Can you tell us a bit about the new album?
– The title of the album is The Silicone Veil, and I have tried to find images on the veil that I always feel is between humans, but also the difference between life and death. Sometimes you can feel that you are not fully present here on earth, that you are in an intermediate stage. This is interesting because all religions imagine a sort of division between life and death. In Catholicism you have purgatory, and in Hinduism they see life itself as a contrast to nirvana. You need to find some sort of transition to the other life, and that is a bit of what the disc is about. It is quite unpopular to talk about this on a such a philosophical way. But all aspects surrounding this transformation is very beautiful, I think.
How has the collaboration with Lars Horntveth (Jaga Jazzist, The National Bank) and Jørgen Træen (Jaga Jazzist, Data Rock, Kaizers Orchestra) affected the sound of the new album?
– Lars and I have produced the album together, and Jørgen has mixed it. I have worked with them on two albums now because I think they are insanely good! They are both absolutely wonderful artists. There has been some discussions and some bickering, but I like to work with people who are so involved in what they do that they are willing to argue to get what they want. That’s how you get the best results.
The new album sounds a bit more upbeat than the previous one. How would you describe the musical expression?
– The album is perhaps a bit in the same genre as The Brothel, although there are some changes; like warmer sound and a bit more electronic feel. There is more bass and the expression is perhaps a little more contemporary. I have listened a lot to dub-step and electronica, so it´s probably been affected by that. Lars has helped me develop the sound on the last two albums. He has taken them to a new level and there’s nothing better than a producer that does exactly that.
How important is it for you to make a good stage performance?
– As a musician there are two different parts of your job. It´s the making of the music, and then it ´s how to perform it. When I’m on stage I want it to be perfect. If I play a note wrong, which I do too often, I’m thinking, “Oh no, hell, now all goes to hell” and then I have to build myself up during the concert to get my confidence back. It is challenging, but also very fun when you see that it works and when you see that the audience appreciates it. Then it’s just fantastic.
You have stated that your lyrics in brief is about the apocalypse, death, love and snow. What is the apocalyptic element on your new album?
– It is very relevant. After all the world is supposedly going under in 2012, huh, but thats more the mythological side of it. Many aspects of the present situation is very much pointing downwards, especially when regarding the climate, and I think art should reflect it and comment on it somehow. Not necessarily saying “this is wrong,” or “that we have to change,” but rather what it does to us humans.
How do the songs about snow contribute to the album?
– I love The Dead from the short story collection The Dubliners by James Joyce. It’s from the beginning of the 19th. century, where we are acquainted with a shy and insecure middle-class man who is invited to a dinner party. The last part is very beautiful because you are presented with clear class distinctions, but it ends with Joyce writing that snow falls all over Ireland and covers everyone, the dead and the living. And it is as if he says that in the whole picture we are all the same, we are even similar to the dead. And this I find beautiful. The image of the snow is very strong and gives you many associations. It’s cold, eternal, inhuman, yet it has a strong presence, at least in Norway.
– Since you are so into James Joyce, are you yourself particularly interested in and tied to this time that he describes? And do you have a special love for authors writing from his time?
– I like many kinds of authors, but I think that a lot of the themes that were present at that time are still relevant today. There is a sense of alienation in these earlier texts, a feeling of not understanding society. I think many people have that feeling today, not least after the Oslo terror bombing with the systematic killing of young people at Utøya in Norway. You become insecure and frustrated and unable to grasp the proportions of evil. This is a theme that comes up again and again, also in World War I. How can millions of soldiers die for nothing, for a war without meaning? I like authors that try to find words for this perplexing estrangement.
How does love come into this otherwise pessimistic description?
– Love is a central theme in this universe. How close can you get to another person, and how can you protect yourself if you get too close? It is an incredibly complex game. Some of my lyrics are about that, the game.
The fact that you can never get close to another human being, is that this veil you talked about earlier?
– Yes, that’s right!
– Are you like the Norwegian poet Wergeland who just wrote a text once, and was finished, or do you work a lot back and forth with your formulations?
– I like the combination of Wergeland and his contemporary Welhaven because I think both teach us important things. It is important to let the ink flow, but it is also important to edit. Often I have a certain picture in mind and write down something without it being generally well formulated. Then I tend to formulate it well afterwards and put it into context.
– “White Foxes” from your latest album has already become a big hit. How do you relate to reviews and sales figures?
– I think that “White Foxes” isn’t representative of the rest of the album, so people are perhaps a little surprised. The rest of the album is possibly a bit similar to “The Brothel”, although there are some changes. “White Foxes” differs from the rest in that it contains less tensions arrangement-wise; everything follows the dynamic of the composition, while on the album it’s a bit more complicated.
– Do you use such tensions to get people to listen?
– If so, I don’t think it’s deliberate. It’s really very trivial to make music. I think more like “here is a verse, now there has to be something interesting, it must have a dynamic development, and here it must be toned down a little.” It’s more about turning it into a good composition, so I am not as conscious about how the public should interpret it. I think that much of it is going to be very strange, and those who have heard the album say that you need to listen to it several times to grasp it.
– What are your future plans?
– I have no concrete plans, but I’m considering traveling abroad next year to get some new input, and then I will of course be touring with this album in Norway and Europe. And then we’ll see.