Spirituality and pop can go hand in hand. Norwegian singer SUSANNA is a perfect example for this. We recently already pointed your attention towards her debut album Triangle which arrives this Friday, April 22nd. Now, we give the crafted songwriter the chance to talk a bit about the beliefs and the intention behind her ambitious new full-length.

Susanna - photo by Anne Valeur/Signe Fuglesteg Luksengard

Susanna – photo by Anne Valeur/Signe Fuglesteg Luksengard

I am standing in a bathroom with turquoise walls, a bathtub and there’s 60’s linoleum on the floor. The sound of birds going about with their daily matters coming through the half open window. I find myself in a state that varies from frustration, my mind is unsettled, and these moments of deep inspiration. Words come to me, a melody, ideas, chords, I can escape for a while, dig into the matter of creating something new.

I do not think that the pieces of words and music is created because of the frustration. I surely know that to be expecting something brand new to arrive is somehow nerve wrecking, and when it doesn’t show up right away, I am always wondering if this is it, I can’t write, compose, create (whatever you call it) music anymore. Like I am empty and unable. That is a dreadful feeling- throw me away, I am no good no more! Even though I have experienced many of these periods so far, I am still blown over by the heavy load of nothingness that does appear. I was about to write ‘can appear’, but I have to face that it does in fact happen.

So there you go: It is hard to accept how much time and space the creative process actually needs.

Back to the bathroom in this house I really love. Melody and words started to hit me ‘There’s a sacred revolution coming’, and I need to document it, bring my phone with Voice Memos to the piano and record the first ideas.

These days it is within the creative process I find the strongest experiences with an undefined force, something that resembles a religious encounter. Trust me, the sensible and rational SUSANNA finds it very hard to actually describe parts of the creative process in such a spiritual way as I am doing now. I also know that the idea of a poet or painter, artist, to be in contact with God to create is hardly new. Not to mention the ancient ideas of ‘Gods and Goddesses of Creativity’.

Yet still there are parts of the inspired conditions that I need to create, things which are mystic and spiritual. I want to understand this aspect, I want to pick it apart.

I grew up in a christian family and I was taught from early on about the soul and spirit, so that has always been a part of my perception of what humans consists of; flesh, spirit and soul. My personal struggle to break free of the pre-defined truths that permeate these religious environments is absolutely the backdrop for my interest in the spiritual world. It is a wonderful freedom to have, to investigate something through art, in a non-scientific way.

Facing the frightening sides of devotion

Much like I have a strong memory of what kind of room I was in when I had a certain idea, the mental room I was in also plays a big part in creation. And for my new album, Triangle I explored entering new rooms in my mind, where the different aspects of my fascination for the spiritual world could flourish. There are so many very frightening sides to devotion, giving yourself totally to beliefs, and when it happens in groups of people, there is so much room for exploitation of power.

Susanna - Photo by Anne Valuer

Photo by Anne Valuer

It is also very seductive, to be swallowed by a belief, be taken over by something that can fill you, maybe with a certainty you can’t experience any other way. I find it highly interesting that believing contains the contrasts between the light and the dark. How different religious environments provide a safety, something good and fulfilling, and at the same time nourishes the ideas of sin, shame, ‘us’ and ‘them’, heaven and hell, appear to be including but really is separating humans from each other. How the church, the house of God, which obviously has contained a lot of deeply felt spiritually encounters for many people, also have been a place where terrible abuse of power has happened, in all it’s glory.

Seems like the dark undercurrents are lurking wherever people go.

So I have tried to stay in these rooms of devotion and subjection, fear and surrender. To let me be swallowed by the process of creating, to eagerly wait for the spiritual connection that allows me to pursue my ambition of pushing boundaries with my writing and music. The songs are filled with mystery, questions, doubt, darkness, vibrating fires and flashes of wisdom and blinding lights. I wanted to make even the shapes of the pieces, and the form of the album, to break free of conventions, and draw the streams of the dark and the light at the same time. My experience is that something interesting happens between the borders of what we see and what we feel, what we sense and what we know. There’s life in the texture of contrasts.