The new year brought change for Norway’s Natalie Sandtorv (who you might remember from her mystic pop 2017 album Freedom Nation). As 2020 unfolded she emerged with a new identity, Neon Ion, and a new gleaming, fluid synth-pop style. And now she’s back with the second chapter in the story of Neon Ion, her new single Bring It Back.
Whereas her previous single Neon Dreams functioned as a slick, uptempo intro to the project, Bring It Back sees Sandtorv slow things down. It flows like caramel, kicking off languidly before the vocals come in and Sandtorv lights the song up, with her melodies skittering over the slow groove of the music. In the end, it transforms into a soul ballad in synth-pop clothing, with a chorus that sounds like the stars spinning overhead. Check it out along with an interview below.
So what was your motivation to leave your earlier project behind you and start afresh as Neon Ion?
I really loved touring with my old project, we got to travel and play in incredible places. But the music had a heavy political angle, and touring it for 2 years made me fear the chance of it becoming a gimmick instead of the current matter I wanted to convey. And for many years I wanted a project that had a different direction, and so it felt like a natural transition to evolve into Neon Ion.
Has taking on a new identity helped you find new creative energy as an artist?
Totally! It’s nice to have a sort of alter ego, that I can use to unveil my visions both sonically and visually. In this project I feel very free and I can include all of my ideas.
What are some of things that influence the Neon Ion project?
Living in Berlin and Copenhagen for 4 years, meant a lot for me and my music. Both inspiring, frustrating, and huge learning experiences. The music scenes are so different from the Norwegian one. Berlin is just so independent, and there are so many subcultures and niches, and it’s impossible to get a complete overview. I love knowing that I haven’t seen it all. I can go out any night of the week, and get my mind blown. The Heart Echoes album is very inspired by travelling, me being in new places, in a constant search for meaning, feeling at home everywhere and nowhere. I think I’m a bit manic and naive sometimes… After working in L.A. I really pictured myself living there, and I was pissed off at everyone who told me it was a stupid idea. Also after a couple of month in Copenhagen I almost bought an apartment and thought I would stay there forever. Haha.
But I like having a naive outlook on life, and I think it’s mostly just entertaining to my friends and family!
Tell us about Bring It Back.
It is a self-care slow jam for 21st century living. The lyric opens with a reference to meditation. To breathe, and let out the old stuff, to welcome something new. The intro is a little look back to my previous work. I wanted to wave “goodbye” to it in the intro. Just for a little bit, to focus on something new.
You have a debut album with Neon Ion coming up, where do you want to take it musically with the space of a longer release?
The Heart Echoes album is musically based in a modern R&B genre. Some of the tracks have some jazzy vibes, and some are more towards indie pop. It’s been so inspiring and creatively rewarding working with my two producers and co writers, that we didn’t stop making songs after we finished the Heart Echoes album. I’ve already began working on my next album.
Bring It Back is out on April 3, and Neon Ion’s debut album Heart Echoes is out on May 8.