The Norwegian pop star opens up about her childhood, loving pop music, dealing with fame, and more.
In the world of music exists the dreaded second album curse or the sophomore slump. It’s basically the belief that following a successful debut album, the second album wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype. But if Heartbreak In The Making, Norwegian pop star Dagny’s first single off her second studio album coming later this year, is any indication, then she’s dodging all those flop allegations.
Dagny Norvoll Sandvik, who goes by her first name of Dagny, has been in the industry since the late 2000s. But it was only in 2016 that the Tromsø, Norway-born artist achieved her breakthrough as she dropped a string of successful singles and collaborations. With her talent of sonically capturing topics with a unique sound, through smart pop hooks, big choruses, and songs that stick, she established herself as one of Europe’s best pop imports.
Her acclaimed 2020 debut album Strangers / Lovers deserved a spot in pop playlists, and with her second full-length effort coming later this year, Dagny is set to solidify her reputation as a pop maestro. We recently got the chance to chat with Dagny as the Norwegian musician opened up about her life, the new chapter that awaits her, and more. Read on below for what she had to say.
How would you like describe growing up in Norway?
I had a really nice childhood. It was very, very, very musical. I grew up with two parents that were are doing music as well. My parents are jazz musicians and bossa nova. I think that probably influenced my music quite a lot or just my love for music.
How did you end up falling into the pop genre?
When I was growing up, we didn’t really have any pop in the house, and not really rock. I didn’t know a lot about the kind of history and pop-rock because we just didn’t have a lot of it at home. But I would say, being a child of the 90s, it was where a lot of the very melodic pop music came in. I will say it’s a very vivid memory from growing up was listening to the Spice Girls and dressing up as them and so I think that was kind of my first meeting with pop music And then just like discovering the guitar and wanting to write, I think I just naturally did pop melodies.
From where you began as a musician to being a global pop star, has the way you approached your music changed?
I think I’m very much the same person but I would say that my style of music has changed. A lot of my music was very singer-songwriter, more mellow and I was playing a lot more guitar. Once I discovered electric guitars and drums, that’s when I made music that was more energetic and I think it felt more in line with my personality. So I would say that it’s gone from being more vulnerable, melancholic, to be like, empowering in a way.
How do you manage to balance that line between your public and private persona?
I do wonder sometimes whether like, that pressure on artists to kind of share everything and to be so public about every single thing in your life through social media, whether that’s part of why it’s easy to lose yourself and feel like you don’t really have anything that just is private. I grew up in a time when we didn’t have iPhones. So for me, social media doesn’t come as natural as it does for a lot of people that grew up today.
And actually, I feel like that’s also naturally given me a sense of division between sharing and being personal, but not oversharing. By the time people started listening to my music and getting familiar with me as an artist, I’d already had a lot of experience, and I’ve learned to deal with things better. I always say to young artists to spend some time figuring out who you are and how you deal with situations and what you want and don’t want to share.
I met this young girl that was 16 years old, and we were talking about music. And she said to me, yeah, I really want to be a musician, but I feel like it’s too late for me. And I was like, Oh, my God, you’re 16. Like, you’re just getting started. And I think that it’s okay to take your time and learn your craft. I was really lucky to have a lot of time to kind of discover who I was as an artist, before anyone else discovered it. We fall for the pressure to do what everyone tells you. But just trust yourself and then find your own limits to who you are and what you want to do.
When you are in the studio, how do you know when a song is ready?
I don’t think songs are ever ready. I think you can continue on a song forever. And you just always think, Oh, I just need to tweak it a little bit. When you write a song, at least for me, I can feel when it’s a song that I’m just very connected to, and when it’s not. I just don’t believe in perfection. I don’t think there exists such a thing. So sometimes you just have to not overthink it and not think that you know, you have to tweak the song to make it right.
If you feel something when you listen to it, then maybe it is right. And at some point, you just have to learn to let go and let everyone else hopefully connect with it. It’s always a really fine line because you don’t want to release something before you feel like it’s ready. But then you don’t want to get to the point where you overthink it.
Do you ever have regrets when it comes to your music?
Yeah, definitely. It’s good to listen back to the stuff that you did earlier and maybe think, Oh, if I did this today, I will do it like this and this and this because that means that you’ve grown and it means that you’ve developed. At the same time, I think that it’s really nice to listen back to stuff that you’ve done earlier because it’s like a print and image of the time you were in. It’s nice to have a catalog to look back and be like, Oh yeah, that was that period where I was feeling like this or I was really inspired by this and this artist.
But there’s been times where I’ve release a thing and think, Oh, I should have done this and this and this, but then it’s kind of too late because the single is out. But I never feel like pressure to release music just to release music. I’d rather not release music for a moment, while I’m making songs that I’m really happy with, and allow myself that space of creativity.
Did you ever imagine your life or career would take you to where you are now?
I don’t know. I’m a horrible long term planner, so I never imagined like, Oh, where am I going to be in five years? In a way, I didn’t really have an idea of where I was going to be at the age that I’m now. And I think there’s something really nice about that, because you’re just present where you are and you do your best with what you’ve got at the time. And you just hope that that’s going to lead you to whatever comes next.
But I guess if you’ve asked me at like 15 if my only dream was to be become a songwriter. Then I probably would have thought it was crazy to like, fast forward 15 years and seeing that I actually get to live that dream and I really don’t take it for granted. I feel so happy that I get to do this job. I love it so much and I love everything about it.
By the time 2023 comes to an end, what are you hoping to achieve?
I want to put out another album. I don’t want to end this year without having released an album that’s for sure. I’m also doing my biggest show to date in November and I just really want to make an amazing pop show. I went to see Dua Lipa last year and she was just so badass. She was so amazing on stage and so ideally, I would love to make as great of a show as she did. And then I would love to travel, a kind that’s got nothing to do with music. I would love to go somewhere in Asia or South America.