Hi! Your new album, “Trouble Finding Words,” seems to be a departure from your previous work. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this new direction?

Hi! And thank you for having me! I thought of it as a departure at first as well, but now I see it as more of a further development of my skill set and soundscape – the ability to paint with a broader brush. The reason I started out wanting to do this was that I became aware of the fact that I use more parts of my voice when I am just at home singing doing some casual chore than when I am sitting down to actually write. I noticed so many of my teenage inspirations from the pop music of my childhood shone through to a larger degree and thought to myself “huh, why don’t I use more of this in my own music?” And thus the idea was born. 

You’ve worked with producer Martin Horntveth on this project. How has his influence shaped the sound of the album?

His musical capacity is enormous so he heard more musical possibilities in these songs than I ever could from my starting point – which was what I hoped for when I asked him to be a part of the project. He is like a musical library and has so many references and fun ideas that have shaped these songs into what they have become. He has this awesome old drum machine that we used a lot, and he’s a drummer himself so I think that’s also an aspect of the album where you can really hear his “voice” in the music. 

The album references a lot of 80s and 90s pop and R&B. Can you share some specific artists or songs from these eras that have influenced your work?

I have a hangup on Destiny’s Child’s version of «Emotions» which has stuck with me ever since I heard it the first time, Mariah Carey was the first CD I ever owned so she’s a huge influence, and Lauryn Hill, TLC, early Sugababes. And I wouldn’t be the same kid without growing up with the attitude of No Doubt. 

Your vocals are a distinctive part of your music. How have you used your voice to bridge the gap between your previous work and this new sound?

I feel fortunate to have been singing ever since I was a kid – with both country, jazz, musicals and pop music influencing my voice either continually or at certain times in my life. So now I felt like I had kind of found “my voice”. But of course then I discovered that I was only using parts of “my voice”! And I think that the established voice I carry with me from my earlier works further developed with the new (old) influences is really what bridges it all together. I have trusted that the old voice is one I know, one that fits my songs – and not left that out, just developed it further. So my voice wouldn’t feel like a stranger to either myself or the listener, but like an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time – they’re still the same, but they are also different. 

You’ve collaborated with several artists on this album, including Stefanos Yowhannes and Sofie Tollefsbøl. Can you tell us about these collaborations and how they came about?

Both Martin and I hoped to get some other voices on this project to really explore what lived in these songs. And as I am exploring and trying to learn new things about this music that I haven’t really explored as a creator that much before, we wanted to ask people who do have that competence, who bring their distinct sound to the songs. It was a privilege and I have learned a lot from all of them, and they all left me speechless and in awe. 

How has your urge to explore and make new musical friends influenced the creation of this album?

I think that’s one of the pillars of my art. I mean – I do like the comfort and the challenge of being just me and my guitar. Or playing with people I’ve known for years. But I do have an urge to explore. To learn. To ask questions and see what the answer might be. And I hope that makes the music feel vibrant, timeless and motivated. 

You’ve received a lot of recognition for your work, including a Spellemann Award and praise from major media outlets. How does this recognition influence your approach to creating music?

It is a privilege when your music resonates in someone else’s mind, so I look at recognition from platforms like those as a very concrete example of just that. And it means a lot. Sure does. And knowing how many people lean more towards giving new music a chance if someone else has gone before them and given it a thumbs up – it means something in that way too. But I do not make music for it to resonate with other people, I make it because I have thoughts and ideas I need to communicate to hopefully get an answer back from someone, which would mean I am not alone about having these thoughts. Like a call I hope someone will hear. Sometimes though, it goes the other way and I can write and make music to let other people know they are not alone. I try to be as free as possible from other people’s expectations and taste when I make music and I do that by setting goals etc for my songs and albums that are separated from the world beyond what I want to communicate. 

You’re set to perform at the Øya Festival in 2023. How are you preparing for this performance, and what can fans expect from your set?

Now that I’ve played this show I look back at it with a smile and thankfulness in my heart. I am so glad I got the chance, even before the new album was out. It felt amazing to premiere many of the new songs on the main stage and to finally feel like these songs were on their way out to the listeners to get a life of their own!

With your two releases on Die With Your Boots On Records, you’ve become a popular artist in Norway and internationally. How has this international attention affected your career and your music?

It is a dream to have your music travel across human made borders. Across language, culture and geography. I think it makes me see more opportunities than I would if I solely worked in the country I was born in, but maybe it has also happened because I’ve always tried to look beyond my own geographical position. Meeting new people, traveling, learning new things – that’s one of the most important things in my life and I think it bleeds into my music a lot. 

Looking back at your journey so far, what advice would you give to aspiring artists who are just starting out in their careers?

Don’t be afraid of trying out new things, or things you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time. You can only grow, never really fail! Also – make goals that are important to y o u and set you up for success in reaching them while they also help you grow as an artist and a human. Like – I want to find people to work with who I can grow long lasting working relationships with, I want to get a booking agent, I want to get comfortable playing solo shows, I want to learn a new skill for every album I make. This way when you work to reach these goals you k n o w you are on your way forward towards your ultimate goal which might be “making a living as a musician,” “recording your first album,” etc. Also – be good at recognizing when you reach these goals so that you don’t end up with the empty feeling of feeling like you never reach any goal even though you have. Because artists start working on new projects and goals before they’ve reached others we tend to never feel like we’ve “gotten there”, reaching our goals – even though we have, many times.