Norwegian pop singer Dagny chats about the making of her new album and explains why the ‘great pause’ of the pandemic helped her to escape the hamster wheel of modern life
While it might be a stretch to say there are silver linings to this pandemic, there’s no doubt that the ‘great pause’ has offered up some golden opportunities.
Being housebound has given us some much-needed breathing space, and for artists and creators in particular, it has led to lots of new insights and ideas.
Here, Norwegian pop singer Dagny chats about the unexpected joys of lockdown, her renewed creative focus and the release of her much-anticipated debut album.
Where are you in lockdown?
I’m in my apartment in Oslo. I live with my sister and my drummer — who is also my sister’s boyfriend. So I think that probably helped because I am definitely a very social creature and I like to be able to be active and working but I will say that this lockdown — if we look away from the fact that it’s a very serious thing — it did come at a very good time for me personally.
What do you mean by that?
It was just getting… I think I had worked myself into a stress mindset and I was going on holiday just a week before everything happened and then when I came back from holiday all of Norway had locked down. So instead of going straight into work-work-work-work, it kind of felt like I could ease into it a bit more.
And I realised how many other things I enjoy doing. You know, being out in nature and sewing and just being able to sit at home and write and play piano without constantly feeling like I’m on some deadline.
So I think I’ve really enjoyed it and probably, like a lot of other people, it’s just been a less pressured time. For a lot of people it’s been lonely and they’ve been very worried but if you look at normal life, there’s been a lot less social pressure: you don’t have to be so efficient all the time and do 10,000 things at once — I think I’ve made the most of it and tried to enjoy it as much as possible.
Have you been more or less creative during lockdown?
I think I would say more. I’ve been more focussed in a way because you have the whole day without being able to go anywhere so you kind of focus on one thing at a time. And I think also I’ve been kind of able to sit and kind of enjoy it without thinking that something has to come out of this or this has to become this great song.
I feel like I did when I was 16, you know, sitting on my bed, strumming on the guitar without necessarily thinking about it.
Have you discovered any new music — or rediscovered any old music — during lockdown?
I’ve had a dive into nineties again — I’m a child of the nineties so that will probably never go away. I’ve also discovered Lennon Stella and I’ve really been enjoying listening to her. And we’ve been listening to Sade and getting a bit inspired by that whole vibe.
How do you come up with the look and feel of your music videos?
That is something that I particularly enjoy doing — the whole visual side of it. I could spend hours on Pinterest finding old styles and looking back to the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and picking up inspiration. That’s been particularly fun with this project. And I’m lucky I’m with a team now who I can sit with for hours and hours finding inspiration — and with them I can put it into action.
Both of your parents are musicians — did they encourage you to take up instruments when you were young?
The first time I remember thinking ‘I want to do that’ was drums — and now my drummer is sitting here looking at me thinking I’m crazy!
We were exposed to a lot of different music when we were in the car going on some road trip holiday. We were listening to everything from Britney Spears and the Spice Girls to super intricate jazz and Brazilian music. I would sit in the back and just drum along to everything and my parents said ‘maybe you’re a drummer’ and I said ‘yeah, maybe I’m a drummer’.
And then it was actually the acoustic guitar that caught my interest. I guess it was when I picked up the guitar and started making songs that music caught my interest — singing was just something I did to be able to do the songs. I’ve never been a singer who’s been particularly interested in singing. It’s just a way of expressing yourself I guess.
What effects do you think the pandemic will have on the music industry in the long run?
I think we’ve already seen the business side of it — how we’re now doing all these meetings over Zoom and how easy that is compared to having to travel somewhere. Obviously what I think is really good about it is there is less travelling and therefore less pollution and I think that has been a really positive thing.
You see how much you are able to do even if you’re not in the same room but then, being someone who really loves people and who really enjoys live music especially, I would be very, very sad if we were going to start to consume music only online and not going out and playing and going to festivals and going to live shows.
I don't want everything to just be technology all the time because you lose such an important part of being human, which is human interaction.
I think at the same time, there are a lot of things to take away from this quarantine life that I hope doesn't disappear. I think as a human it’s important that you at least try to find acceptance of just being on your own or being by yourself and enjoying your own company. And sometimes that’s something you have to learn — it’s not something you naturally do.
If anything this might make us realise that you can sit at home on a Friday night and actually enjoy it and be okay with it.
Dagny's debut album will be split into two parts. The first 6 tracks 'Side A' is available for streaming now and the full album (Side B) will arrive in September.
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