At this year’s BERLIN MUSIC WEEK, we met SANDRA KOLSTAD and talked with her about the german capital and the special week that was taking place, the Northern sound, the way she wrote her new album (Nothing Lasts) Forever, her special live shows and or course hope and passion.
Three years ago the Norwegian electropop artist SANDRA KOLSTAD moved from Oslo to Berlin because of “art and love.” She met her boyfriend in Copenhagen, Denmark – both wanted to move and “Berlin seemed to be a good option.” After a long talk about the advantages of Berlin and why this city for people who do music or are into the music scene could be the deal – at least in Europe. In short words: Berlin is big, central, a melting pot and it is – for a European capital city – still pretty cheap. A lot of important people can be met and if you need to go somewhere else: just take the plane.
Sandra, would you say that there is a special Northern sound?
It’s a question that I’ve given a lot of thoughts, because I think it’s really interesting. I used to answer that question with a “no”, but now that I am outside of Scandinavia, I can see that there are some characteristics about at least some parts of the Scandinavian music scene or the Northern music scene. And some features – both musically as well as visually. The aesthetics around the music and the style. So I think that at least some parts of the Scandinavian scene is quite characteristic.
And which parts especially?
Well, I can see it when people write about my music. For instance in Germany. They often talk about the dark side of the music. Often I get these metaphors like “as if I can see her standing in the middle of a forest by a small lake in Norway.” Yeah, I mean for instance take an artist like BJÖRK – whom I admire a lot – and she is very aware of the way she uses everything. She really works with that nature part of music from the very start on. Like her music videos being filmed on Iceland. The whole style and the whole sound – I mean not at least now on her latest album which is about nature. So I think how people see music that is coming from Scandinavia is also much about melancholy, which is also this dark flavor, too.
So we are here at the Berlin Music Week – something special for you or just a show in Berlin?
Well, it is something special. Many people are here who usually would not come to my concerts, and many people from the media. So it is a special situation. It’s a showcase.
Your new album “(Nothing Lasts) Forever” will be released over here in February (in Norway the album is already released), can you tell something about the album?
My first record was called Crux and with this second one I wanted to explore more about the way I make music and go deeper into certain genres. So, I think it does more things in a more daring way than the last one. More in-depth and that of course in different directions. So you both find even more dark dark and experimental things on this record than on the previous one but also more pop related pieces. Yeah, and that has been very nice to explore these genres even more in-depth.
I think the same. What of course also differs this album from the other is that this is actually a conceptual album where I wanted to describe some things. Water has been my inspiration both for the music and for the lyrics. This water concept was actually to work quiet. I composed the record in a house on the west coast of Norway by the ocean – totally alone in this big house. The neighbors where very far away. Maybe that’s why the album became dark, because it was quite scary. I worked for 12 hours a day – I was living there for four months, just composing. And I wanted to work quite intuitively with making both the music and the lyrics together in a way. So I was sort of sitting with my synthesizer or piano or drum-machine or whatever – just playing melodies or rhythmical patterns. Almost just making sounds that where just gibberish. And then it started to make sense and certain words just came out of it as well as certain melodies that I really liked and in that way I wanted to create these songs. You know, they grew out of nothing. They they grew together, the music and the lyrics are very close to each other.
How did you do it on your last record “Crux”?
I didn’t have this concept behind it. I guess every musician works intuitively at a certain level, but this time I really sort of made it very clear of myself – just how I wanted to work. SO it was more systematic in a way – my approach to write this record.
What is special about your show?
I think I’ve always wanted to make something special out of my shows, because I’m very interested in exploring a concert as a ceremony. Like making it to one big experience for the audience and for me. It is not about “Here is this song…and here is the next one”…it is just about more than music. Like making the concert a room where people come in and think like “Ph shit, what’s happening here?” – So, I’ve done a lot of different things. When I played the Øya Festival last year I had a bodybuilder on stage, which was actually very much inspired by Berlin’s club Berghain. I wanted to recreate that atmosphere of being in there – in Oslo…with a bodybuilder. And I also worked very closely with different artists, like video artists. I do different things. Right now I’m working with a designer who makes latex-cloths – so that’s what I’ll wear tonight on stage for instances.
So is it that you switch into another mode when you are on stage and then you are the stage person?
Yes, I’m a bit like that I guess. That’s why I used the word “ceremony” or “ritual” – I always wanted to be like a shaman. Like entering this special state of mind. I think you don’t need huge light shows, I’m more about making an atmosphere…in one way or another. And that can happen in many ways.
Last question: What do “hope” and “passion” mean to you?
I have to say first that when my manager wrote me that you want to talk with me I thought that the name “Nothing But Hope And Passion” is so beautiful. I think that “hope and passion” pretty much describes how I want to live actually. I think if you have a lot of hope in your life and a lot of passion, then you are able to have a very good life. Hope is really important…and passion, too. Both. Yeah, both. I think if you have these two then you’re quite well-off. Hope keeps you moving in dark times … and also in good times.
from Oslo, Norway / Berlin, Germany