After releasing his third record Kæm Va Du, the Norwegian singer-songwriter MODDI is out on the road again. The charismatic curly head is currently touring through Europe and last week he made a stop in the student city Münster to play an acoustic show. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION didn’t hesitate and took the chance to talk with him about his new album, his homeland Norway and also about the important things in life- like showering.
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi my name is Pål MODDI. I’m what you would call singer-songwriter from Norway,currently on tour in Germany.
Your latest album is called “Kæm Va Du”. What does the name mean?
The album is entirely in the Norwegian language and the title means “who were you” in Norwegian.
Is there any special story behind it?
There are many stories behind it. I come from an island far up in the north of Norway which has changed quite a bit the last few decades. When my grandmother came there forty years ago they had no roads, no cars, no television. Most people were self-sustaining fishermen and farmers and during the last twenty/thirty years things have changed completely. I grew up with a television and with internet- just like everybody else. We’re about to loose the culture that we once had so I tried with this album to gather a few texts and melodies from Senja, my island, before they are all forgotten and we have forgotten who we once were.
Can you name some artists who have an impact or an influence on your music, especially on your latest record?
(laughs) I don’t know. I listen to a lot of music all the time. Mostly I don’t get inspired by music. I get more inspired by reading sociology or watching the news or talking to people while we’re out on the road or having long philosophic discussions with my girlfriend. That’s what inspires me and what triggers me. I know that from early on I listened a lot to SIGUR RÓS, RADIOHEAD, DAMIEN RICE, BJÖRK, JOANNA NEWSOM, JEFF BUCKLEY and that sort of stuff. And I know that those were the ones who inspired me and sort of triggered the whole music thing ’cause I tried copying what they did. And then I just ended up making something completely different.
Your music is described as melancholic folk-pop, how would you call it?
Melancholic folk-pop are three good words. In Norwegian you have a genre called Vise which isn’t a word that anybody else uses. But I think that’s a good term. A Vise is basically just a poem with music to it, so that you should be able to remember the lyrics. That’s basically what I write.
Would you say that your musical style has changed during the years?
(thinks) You know, I’m always learning new things. You don’t wanna do the same thing twice. You don’t wanna write the same song twice. So yeah definitely. It’s definitely changing, but changing very slowly. I think people still recognize it.(laughs)
You’re using the accordion quite a lot. What’s your fascination about it? It’s not the most popular instrument nowadays.
I’m not fascinated by the accordion I just happened to have one. My mother used to play it when she was younger. She and my father met in a band- he played the drums and she played the accordion. But when they got children they had too much to do so they couldn’t use their instruments anymore. When I was twenty years old I found my mothers old accordion and I thought it should be used for something good instead of just lying in the basement unused. Its a cool instrument, you can do a lot of things with it that other instruments can’t. It can be a church organ, it can be a piano, you can imitate a harp and a cello at the same time. It goes from the deepest base to the highest peeps. I still feel there’s a lot of sounds to explore in the accordion that haven’t been found yet.
I’ve read some very interesting stuff about your writing process. For example that you’re writing in complete darkness in showers. Can you tell me something more about it?
Well, I have sort of problems concentrating when there’s a lot of stuff going on around me. I can’t concentrate if I’m in a city, I can’t concentrate if I’m in a car, I can’t concentrate if there’s music on anywhere or if two people are talking at the same time. So in order to write music I need complete silence and sometimes you get that from traveling far far away, from the life on tour. And sometimes you just don’t get it. I need to take some time off in order to write. I can’t just do it anywhere.
On your homepage it’s saying that you started rapping at the age of fourteen. How’s it going? Are you still rapping?
On Kæm Va Du I’m digging for a couple of old skills from the past you might say. I don’t know, I’m not into the hiphop genre anymore-obviously. But why shouldn’t I? (laughs)
There is also written that you moved out when you were fifteen. For what reason? And how did it feel? Wasn’t it pretty though?
(laughs very loudly) That’s such a German question. Everybody moves out when they’re fifteen in Norway. Katrine (who will perform on stage with him later on) did as well. You have to. We come from small places, from small villages all around the country. In order to continue your education you have to ’cause there aren’t any big schools in your area. My closest high school was seventy kilometers away. And that’s normal. It’s not a big shock at all. It’s usual. Everybody does that.
How was touring with the folk siblings ANGUS AND JULIA STONE? Any funny anecdotes?
Funny anecdotes? I know that we made them quit smoking weed. Those guys have been touring for so long that they were completely wasted in smoke clouds. And then our “fitness club“ of MODDI came on. We’re all vegetarians, we’re all doing yoga and jogging and drinking nothing but mineral water. After having been touring for one and a half months together they were sort of sober- all of them.(laughs) We saved ANGUS AND JULIA STONE. If they ever release anything again: We saved them. (laughs again)
What are – apart from music – the most important things in your life?
Who says music is a part of my life? (laughs) I would sort of say if I wasn’t doing music then I probably would be some kind of politician or environmentalist, activist. If I could. I don’t sort of have the time now since we’re constantly on the road. You can’t do everything at the same time.
What do hope and passion mean to you?
Hope and passion? I hope in a renewable ans sustainable future where people are solidary towards everybody else living on the planet and the future generations. That’s hope. Passion is doing what you do with pride, doing what you want to do. Or at least doing something that’s needed for our society or for the planet. That’s passion. Is that the right answer? I hope so.
There is no right answer. It’s your answer.
Thank you, that’s my answer.