northern exposure

Everyone with fully functioning ears knows that all the good music can be found in Scandinavia. While it's typically always been Sweden the world has turned to for interesting new pop music, or melodic indie bands, or oddball dance bangers, that spotlight has started to shift a little further north over to Norway.

So we didn't feel left out of the loop, we hopped on a plane to By:Larm and saw as many things as was humanly possible (bands, mostly, but also some comedy sculptures carved out of snow), while also chatting to five diverse female artists that sum up what a creative hub Norway is becoming. First up there's 20-year-old Sigrid, whose debut single Don't Kill My Vibe is basically how you want all pop music to sound from now on. Then there's Miss Tati, aka Tatiana Palanca, whose brand of fresh R&B and captivating soul is best encapsulated on 2015's Shakedown, while PURPURRPURPLE, or Annette Kvithyll to her friends, is one of Scandinavia's biggest and brightest DJs and producers. On the flip side is Emma Jensen, who only started her career a couple of months ago and has one song online, the lovely, self-produced Closer. Then there's Anna Lotterud, aka one half of crystalline pop duo Anna of the North, whose delicate songs have already captivated most of the world's best blogs.

I want to break some boundaries and purify some souls - PURPURRPURPLE

What is it about Scandinavia that produces so many amazing female musicians?

Sigrid: There are a lot of supportive systems for cultural things here. In Bergen we have Brak, which promotes new artists. We also have AKKS, which is for girls only and involves lots of band camps and things. Doing music here is encouraged.

Miss Tati: It has something to do with Norwegian history and vikings and women being the tough person in the household. It has to do with dating history too and women coming onto men and being hands on – they know what they want and they go and get it. That's a massive part of it. Creativity is also encouraged in our culture, more generally.

PURPURRPURPLE: It's really amazing, there are a lot of groundbreaking and forward-thinking artists in Scandinavia. I think we've been left aside to chose our own lane and we've had to start a scene ourselves, so we have to work harder to prove ourselves.

Emma Jensen: I think we're good at melodies and lyrics. Also you're encouraged to do music at school – I've been playing the violin since I was six, then I started playing guitar and writing songs. I've always been quite shy about my music, but I'm getting there.

Anna of the North: I think we've always been this good but now people are paying more attention. I lived in Melbourne about four years ago and around then people started paying attention to Norway and Norwegian design. It's so crisp and so clean here.

Who were your female musical icons growing up?

Sigrid: Definitely Joni Mitchell because my parents loved her. Adele was the first artist I discovered by myself, so she's really important to me. I remember hearing Rolling In The Deep on iTunes and then I got her album as a present. It was a special moment hearing that song.

Miss Tati: So many! To begin with, Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu, just her sassiness and independence. I love Sade. Also, Sarah Vaughan for being that tough women in the jazz world and not conforming.

Emma Jensen: I always loved Emmylou Harris and Eva Cassidy. Also, Amy Winehouse. My biggest inspiration growing up was Johnny Cash though.

Anna of the North: Celine Dion. When I had to get emotions out I'd put on Celine Dion's Because You Loved Me and Beauty & The Beast.

Most of my lyrics are about my sad feelings and that helps get those emotions out - Emma Jensen

Does Norway as a country inspire your creativity?

Sigrid: Definitely, the nature is really important to me. Not that I write about nature, but it's more that when you're in the country you lose service on your phone and that's the best feeling in the world. You have to think and reflect on what's actually happening in your life at that moment.

Miss Tati: It inspires me because I can see fellow musicians doing their thing and we have that respect between us. In Bergen, my town, we have so many different musical scenes and we all know each other and support each other.

PURPURRPURPLE: Not really. To me, it's a place I don't really see myself in – I always like to look outside and think more internationally. I've recently been inspired by a lot of Swedish artists.

Emma Jensen: It does, but I'm also really inspired when I travel. Maybe in the future I'd like to live in LA.

Anna of the North: Yeah. To be honest, I haven't really paid enough attention to it. It was embarrassing when I was in Melbourne people would ask if I'd been to all these places in Norway and I hadn't seen any of it. That's part of growing up because you just care about boys or whatever, but now I'm growing up I want to go and see more.

Emma Jensen
Emma Jensen

Do you prefer being in nature or in the city?

Sigrid: Nature, definitely. I do like the city though. I like people too much to run off to the country.

Miss Tati: Now more being in nature, but I live in the city. We have a mountain in Bergen so I always take weekly hikes there to clear my mind and remind myself what's important.

PURPURRPURPLE: The city. I like subcultures and the edgy, darker stuff. I'm more into the city life, definitely. I'm actually a country girl from birth, so I've done that side already.

Emma Jensen: Depends. I love being in the country but I also like it when there's a lot happening. I can get restless otherwise. I write all the time anyway – on a bus, when I'm walking along the street, anywhere I get an idea.

Anna of the North: Both. We have a cabin up in the mountains so it's nice to go there and take a break. I went there recently and just hiked alone. It was beautiful. I do get restless though, so I need the city too.

If you could collaborate with one other Norwegian act who would it be and why?

Sigrid: Definitely Aurora. We've been talking about it too, we'll have to do that sometime. Astrid S would be nice too. Susanne Sundfør too.

PURPURRPURPLE: I would definitely like to work with some singers and there are a lot of them in Norway.

Emma Jensen: Probably Cashmere Cat, I think.

Anna of the North: I really love Sigrid. Before she released this songs she'd been doing music for a little while, so I've always been a fan of her energy and who she is as a person.

I want my music to move people – to either hit them in the heart or the hips - Miss Tati

If music were banned tomorrow what would you do instead?

Sigrid: Maybe I'd apply to law school. I was supposed to be a lawyer, that was my dream. I never thought about becoming a musician – it just felt too unsafe, in a way. Now I'm here and I love it.

Miss Tati: Good question...I would move to a farm, look after animals and grow my own food.

PURPURRPURPLE: Play drums. Oh all music is banned? I would be a painter. I do a lot of sewing and making clothes, so I might do that too.

Emma Jensen: I've only just started! Probably be a radio host, but then I wouldn't be able to play any music. I'd just talk, it's fine.

Anna of the North: I would probably do graphic design, because that's what I do on the side.

When did a song last make you cry?

Miss Tati: So many songs make me cry, but in a good way. When I really love something then I'll cry. There's a song called Don't Fall Into The Dark So Quick, which hit my heart because I know a lot of people who have struggled with depression.  

PURPURRPURPLE: A couple of years ago. Nowadays I'm getting more aggressive, so I've kind of changed my vibe; less crying, more action.

Emma Jensen: If I'm emotional then I'll cry at any song to be honest.

Anna of the North: I've been listening to this song a lot called Karma Krys, by Young M.A. It really moved me. It's so honest. 

Miss Tati
Miss Tati

Would you say you're quite in tune with your senses?

Sigrid: Yes definitely. You don't have to be to be a songwriter, but to write personal songs it makes it easier. You have to be comfortable having feelings. It's tricky with all of this happening to me so fast, you can get a bit stressed, but I'm completely okay with knowing that it's alright to have feelings. It's alright to be stressed, or have a down day, or be super happy.

Miss Tati: I guess so. I think artists have to be open and in tune in order to create. You have to have an overview of what's happening around you.

Emma Jensen: I'm quite extreme. I think you need to be to be able to write songs. Most of my lyrics are about my sad feelings and that helps get those emotions out. I don't have a good happy song yet.

Anna of the North: Yes, I think so. When the bees started dying I got really sad about that. I can cry when I see a cute dog, or anything really. There's a guy that plays the accordion in a tunnel near my house and I'm afraid one day he won't be there. Everything makes me emotional.

I think we've always been this good but now people are paying more attention - Anna of the North

What are you trying to communicate with your music?

Sigrid: I never thought I had something important to say. I hope people can see something of themselves in my songs. I just write about my own thoughts and my thoughts are very relatable. I'm 20-years-old and I'm writing a lot about things that happened in high school. It's easier to write about growing up and what I'm writing about is how it is to be 20-years-old and everything that comes with that – being discriminated against because of your age, because of your sex, all these things I've experienced.

Miss Tati: First and foremost, joy. I want my music to move people – to either hit them in the heart or the hips.

PURPURRPURPLE: I want to break some boundaries and purify some souls. I don't want to make them feel comfortable, I want to push the limit a bit. I use sounds that aren't typical.

Anna of the North: Is there an answer to that? I don't know what I'm trying to communicate. I'd like to make a song you could enjoy when you're sad and when you're happy.

What colour is your music?

Sigrid: My vocal teacher told me that my voice is purple, because I have the red core, which is warm, but then I have the blue crisp on it. Maybe my music is purple too.

Miss Tati: Burgundy.

PURPURRPURPLE: Now it's red. Before it was purple.

Emma Jensen: Maybe a sort of blue, pink, pastel mix.

Anna of the North: It feels pink, but that sounds horrible. I'd hope it was a bit blue, but like in-between white and blue. Not like light baby blue, like a dark turquoise.

Anna of the North
Anna of the North

What possession would you save from a burning building?

Sigrid: Embarrassingly, it would be my phone. I want to say something really poetic, but everything is in my phone.

Miss Tati: It's terrible to say it but my phone. Actually, my computer because that has all my music and lyrics on it.

PURPURRPURPLE: My laptop. It's my life.

Emma Jensen: Probably my MacBook. All my music is in there. My dog and my MacBook, basically.

Anna of the North: I've got this bird called Frank, but he's not a real bird (laughs). He's a plastic figure that I got from a friend. I put it on my head sometimes. Actually it would be my hard drive.

What smells remind you of home?

Sigrid: Seaweed. It reminds me of being in the sea as a child.

Miss Tati: Cinnamon because my mum makes a mean apple cake.

PURPURRPURPLE: Wood and coal. I'm from a small place in the north of Norway called Hell, so that's where the burning comes from (laughs).

Emma Jensen: How my mum smells. We moved a lot, but she'd always make it feel like home.

It's tricky with all of this happening to me so fast, you can get a bit stressed, but I'm completely okay with knowing that it's alright to have feelings - Sigrid

What are your three favourite smells?

Sigrid: My parents home-cooked meals, specifically mushrooms and pancakes. The ocean, again. Also, the crisp Norway air.

Miss Tati: Mint, and all the refreshing smells that clean out my sinuses.

Emma Jensen: There's this soap that you wash your floor with that in Norwegian translates as Green Soup. It's so good! Probably nail polish and diesel, too.

Anna of the North: There's a guy's perfume that I really love. I feel like all the guys I've ever met have the same one actually. The crisp, clean air of Norway.


Is there a specific smell that takes you back to childhood?

Sigrid: Sometimes in British airports, in the toilets, they have this smell that's a special type of gum that my mum and I bought together. It was sugar free. That reminds me of my childhood.

Miss Tati: My mum had a Chanel perfume and she worked overseas, on a boat from Bergen to Newcastle, so while she was away I'd go inside her closet and smell her clothes.

PURPURRPURPLE: The sea. Also the perfumes people had in the 90s, those cheap, teenage perfumes.

Emma Jensen: Wood. I grew up while my parents were building our house from scratch, so the smell of something in construction.

Anna of the North: Pollen.

If you had to lose one sense - so either sight, hearing, smell, taste or touch - which one would it be?

Sigrid: I've actually thought about this because we're so damned lucky. Probably sight, although I'm afraid of the dark (laughs). Although actually maybe I'd lose my sense of touch.

Miss Tati: None! If it had to be one then maybe touch.


Emma Jensen: I have to be able to hear and see...If you can't smell you can't taste, right? Maybe I'd lose taste.

Anna of the North: Probably taste, but then I wouldn't eat so maybe I'd die. I couldn't lose touch.

Where would you like to be in two years' time?

Sigrid: Either on tour with my best friends and my band. I'd like to have an album out too.

Miss Tati: Touring around the world.

PURPURRPURPLE: I want to have released some music and have travelled.

Emma Jensen: I want to be able to only do music. I'd also like to travel and go on tour. I'd like to have released an album by then too.

Anna of the North: It would be amazing to be out there going round the world and meeting new people. We're aiming to release an album in the summer so maybe that could happen.

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