Last month danish pop-princess Nanna Øland Fabricius aka OH LAND released her fourth studio album Earth Sick and is ready to conquer our planet with it! Just in time for New Year’s, the sweet singer caught up with NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION to talk a bit about feeling sad for earth, singing kids and how a forgotten song became a hit.
You seem quite busy at the moment. Promotion dates here and there, gigs. Not to forget your participation as a judge on Denmark’s edition of The Voice Kids. How’s the experience to be part of such a project?
It’s been really challenging and fun. But mostly I’ve been just inspired by all those kids who have no idea what they are doing. They are just singing, like they way they were doing back in their room at home. Then they come out on this big stage and it’s just so genuine and sometimes very emotional to watch. It was very interesting to watch and find out what makes them unique and try to encourage them to keep doing that.
You have a very positive position towards it, although casting shows on television have always been on the radar for massive criticism. Can you think of any reasons why many people that suspicious or pessimistic about them?
Well, maybe some of those shows are a little bit destructive. I chose The Voice Kids because we do not want to make anyone a superstar. There will be no record deal at the end of it. No one is going to be sign to a label. The only thing they win is a vacation with the family. There is no focus on anyone becoming famous. The focus is on this kids. Get better self esteem. Some of those kids didn’t even sing to their family before. It’s not like other competitions, where there is the one with the long blonde hair. There are also kids who get mocked in school. So there’s really something beautiful about encouraging them, I think.
Speaking about long, blonde hair. You’ve lost yours when you put out the first single of your new album in November, Head Up High. In the video we can see you with short, brown hairstyle, destroying a room like some kind of warrior. The song itself is quite an anthem for independency and the strength of a human being. What’s the story behind it?
The story behind Head Up High is very specific. A really close friend of mine was going trough a rough breakup. She called me in the middle of the night in New York, she was back in Denmark and we talked a lot about it. She was devastated and had no idea what to do. I tried to figure out what I could do to help her because I wasn’t there. So I wrote her this song about staying strong, not letting this to drag her down or to get too depressed. Like, she should keep her head up all the time. Take it, you know, step by step. I send it to her. Then I pretty much forgot about the song because the only purpose of the song was to be an encouragement for her. A year later she came to Portugal where I was finishing the album, it was this summer, asking me if I would record and finish it or not. I completely forgot about it. I didn’t even have it! So she pulled up her phone and played it for me. She was like “You have to record it. This could be a hit.” So I did it. I recorded it on the same day and it became the first single.
Sounds like a very spontaneous move, but it became a hit in your country. Not bad!
(laughs) Yes, thank you.
Let’s talk about your new album, ‘Earth Sick‘. Compared to you previous work, it reminds of your first record, Fauna. Less pop, but more experimental. You even recorded it on your own in your flat in Brooklyn with just a few people and released it through your own label. Why did you decide this time against a bigger record company?
Because I wanted to know how it feels like to be in this completely safe and creative environment. Without being influenced by all this A&R’s and marketing or label people. People who wanted to tell my story better than I can. I started out as a producer. I started out producing a lot of the music on Fauna. Then I got kind of away from it, because I was signed by a big label, busy singing and finding my own voice. Songwriting and all of that. So I wanted to come back to producing and create an atmosphere around my songs the way I did in the beginning. That was always very important to me.
In an article there was written that you wanted to ‘envision the feelings of a lonely astronaut’ on ‘Earth Sick’. That it is about the thoughts you might get while looking down on this planet from space. Thinking about what could be better. Are you sick sometimes of earth?
I’d rather say I’m sick for our earth. I love living here, but sometimes I get really sad when I see the way earth is being treated by all those big industrial companies. Like they all are drilling the Arctic, it just makes me sad. You know, it’s all a big circle and we are all part of its chain. I would like our earth to be healthier than it is right now.
You seem very sad about the nature. What about the people and our society. Is there anything you would change, if you could?
I’m mostly sad about the fact that a lot of people have very little patience. Very little for each other and results. They always want results and results! With earth, they kind of forget it has been here now for so long. Hopefully, it lasts for longer and humans last that long either. There’s also the thing about us having only black and white opinions. A lot of conflicts in the world are because people get stuck in one truth and do not see the other side of it.
So what would be your advice for people to be happy, even when everything is not as perfect as everyone kind of expects?
I don’t have a simple answer for that. I think in any conflict it’s good to take a step back and look at it from the other side. Look a bit away on it from your own emotions. See it more as an alien from out of space. Looking back on earth, it would be like ‘that is the lion, that is the cheetah!’ (laughs). You know, that is why I love animal documentaries! You can see a lot of human behaviour in the ways animals interact.
Definitely! Would you describe those things as the themes on ‘Earth Sick’? Animals, aliens?
[thinks] Yeah, maybe when it comes to the song. Earth Sick is a very lonely song. About coming and feeling lost. The way an alien would not fit in on earth if it came here. It is a song about knowing what you want but not being able to embrace it or living it.
Quite a heavy topic. Maybe we should think a bit more positive, especially when it is near Christmas time! You just released a video for your single ‘Nothing Is Over’. The lyrics are very optimistic and you really get into holiday mood while watching it. What are your plans for Christmas this year?
My plans are to go to San Francisco where my brother lives with his family. I’m gonna be there. Maybe we’re going skying in Lake Tahoe. Afterwards I’m going to Tahiti for a week, for New Year’s. I’m going to swim with sea turtles and I can’t wait!
Adventurous! And what then in 2015? Will there be a tour?
For the spring I’m going to tour a lot. Both in Europe and in America.
One last question: what do hope and passion mean to you?
That means never giving up. Fighting for something you believe in and not shy away from it just because people think otherwise.