Sound Off: DAGNY
Jun 28, 2020
The Scandinavian pop-scene has produced music sensations from Robyn and ABBA to new emerging artists such as Icona Pop and Zara Larsson. Norwegian pop-princess, Dagny, is one of the many talented stars to arise from the Northern part of Europe, now adding a compelling debut album to her discography.
Pop-fanatics have longly anticipated a complete album release from this powerhouse darling. Since 2016, Dagny has been trickling out addictive anthems such as ‘Wearing Nothing,’ ‘Backbeat,’ and ‘Love You Like That,’ which heavily inspired Katy Perry’s 2019 single ‘Never Really Over.’
The new album, Strangers / Lovers, is to be released in two parts. The first installment arrived in late May, and the second half will reveal in the Fall. Part one renders infectious dance-pop tunes like ‘Come Over’ and ‘Somebody,’ that perfectly encapsulate those early, euphoric stages of falling hard for someone. In contrast, part two concludes with the tragic collapse of love once all the shimmer and sheen dwindles away.
Offering the most irresistible lineup of pop songs for Summer 2020, Popular had the chance to chat with the masterful creator behind Strangers / Lovers. This Sound Off feature is not one to dismiss as Dagny dishes on what fans can expect from Side B, *almost* opening for Dua Lipa on the Future Nostalgia tour (curse you, coronavirus), and what she describes as her “semi-stage dive” experience.
1. You previously noted that Strangers / Lovers is a life-cycle of love. We’ve heard the first stages from Side A. What can fans expect to hear during the downfall on Side B?
On Side B, you’ll get the late stages of a relationship, and also when the relationship is over. It’s a bit more thoughtful in a way – and it was harder to write. I find it quite easy to write about being in love and what a euphoric feeling that is. It takes longer to put words on something sad or something that’s been difficult. I’m more cautious when it comes to what I say and which words I use.
2. You were initially set to play on Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia tour on May 13th. Unfortunately due to the coronavirus, this wasn’t able to come to fruition. Can you still tell us how the opportunity came about?
I think there might have been some “inside connections” there, haha. We got an email about it, and I was like, “um, YESSS.” I think she’s amazing and I love that latest album, so I was pretty gutted when it didn’t happen. But hey, maybe our roads will meet again at a later point.
3. You’re originally from Norway. For those who have never been, what’s your advice on experiencing the “True Norway”?
If I were to visit Norway for the first time, I would definitely fly up to the North, rent a car and make my way down Norway through the West Coast. Norway is a stunning and peaceful country. There are so many secret spots and such amazing countrysides that you’d never get to experience if you just flew into one of the bigger cities. So get a car or get on a bike, and off you go.
4. What’s the difference between the music scene in the UK vs. Norway vs. the US?
I think the biggest difference is the size and the tempo, but also musical references and music history. Obviously, the scene in Norway is smaller, so it feels like everyone knows each other. While living in the UK, I realized just how much it takes to make a name for yourself. Bands and artists were out gigging six nights a week. I’ve also spent a lot of time in the US, and people are doing one-two sessions a day. Those things inspired me a lot, so I always try to push forward and never give up.
5. Do you find touring in those countries to be different as well?
Obviously, in Norway, I’m doing a lot bigger stages now versus in other territories. This means that we’re able to make bigger productions and bring more musicians, which I love. I think the audiences in all three countries are amazing. In the US, people are very enthusiastic – and not afraid to show it, which is quite fun. The UK has a special place in my heart because I spent so much of my 20s there. I grew a lot both as a musician and as a person. I’ve had some really memorable shows in all three countries.
6. As I was creeping your Instagram (no shame), I noticed you completed your first stage dive in 2018. As someone who has always wanted to do this – I will just have to live vicariously through your experience. What was that like?
Lol. Luckily, I made it look just a little bit cooler on Instagram than it probably looked in real life. I’ve always wanted to do it too, and there was an opening, so I took it. But I was a bit of a coward, so instead of doing a proper jump into the audience, I stood on the fence in front of the stage and just…laid down. You could say it was a semi-stage dive, but it made me want to do it all the time. It was so fun. So I have 2021 to look forward to when it comes to stage-diving.
7. In 2016 after the release of ‘Backbeat,’ you described your sound as ‘pleasant melancholia.’ How do you think your music has evolved since then?
Wow, did I really? I guess that’s our proof that it’s changed quite a bit. I loved doing acoustic singer-songwriter music, but Backbeat was the start of a new era. Since then, the music is way more upbeat, and I’ve discovered synths. I still think there’s a sense of melancholia to some of the songs, but it’s more a “hopeful, nostalgic undertone” rather than “sadness.”
8. There is no doubt that some of the best dance-pop/electronic music has emerged from the Nordic countries in the past decade. How easy do you find it to differentiate yourself from other artists coming from this part of the world?
I never really think of references and other people’s music compared to how I make music. I just try to make something that feels good to me. We build sounds around the song based on whatever makes sense for that particular song. I’m sure that is “what feels good” to me, however, is still somehow inspired by all the music I’ve listened to over the years. I think it’s inspiring to see how many great songwriters and artists there are from the Nordics.
9. If you could’ve had any artist featured on Strangers / Lovers, who would it be and why?
Robyn. Just because she’s awesome and also, how mad would that be? I can already picture our music video and stage performances together. She’s just cool, and innovative and classic – all at once.
10. You previously had a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Landslide’ featured on ‘The Bold Type.’ How does an opportunity like that come about?
They actually reached out and asked if I was up for doing it. I spent the 17th of May, Norway’s National Day, in the studio with the producer. My sister, friend, and drummer stopped by with prosecco and cake, and we ate it outside the studio on the pavement before heading back in to finish it. It was such a cool feeling watching in on the actual show – I’m a big fan of the series.
11. Has life in quarantine affected the way you write music?
Honestly, I don’t think it has. Quarantine came at a time when I needed a little bit of a breather. We’d been working intensely on the album, and it had been a busy few years before that. So when the whole world stood still for a moment, I took that opportunity to reconnect with some other things, like spending time in nature, sewing, and plants—very hipster of me, but what the heck.
12. Who or what initially inspired you to pursue a career in music?
My parents, first of all. They’re musicians too. But up until I was around 15/16, I wasn’t really making music on my own. Then I saw this clip on TV of Eva Cassidy, a beautiful singer. She was sitting in this dark pub somewhere in Brooklyn, just singing and playing an acoustic guitar. I remember thinking that I wanted to do the same. So I borrowed a guitar from my dad, started writing some words, and haven’t looked back since.
13. What has music given you?
Music has given me a truly exciting and beautiful journey. However cliché that sounds. I’ve met AMAZING people that I connect with. I get to express something through music. I’ve traveled the world and been part of exciting projects. It’s given me everything. I find so much joy in music, both listening to other people’s music and making it myself.
14. And lastly, tell us something fans would be shocked to learn about you.
When I was in primary school, I was the biggest Destiny’s Child fan. One of my biggest dreams was to be one of those back-up dancers behind big stars in their music videos. Everyone had dancers in their videos back then. I’m 180cm, though, so I’m pretty sure I would stand out in the wrong way. Lol.
- Photographers Sandrine and Michael