Patrick Quiring / Dagny Interview

We recently got a chance to sit down and speak to the wonderful Norwegian pop sensation known as Dagny before her sold-out show with LANY at the historic Cain’s Ballroom in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma earlier last month. In it we discuss the difference between the music scenes in Europe and the United States, her current musical obsession, and how she writes her mesmerizing tunes. So sit back, relax, and join us for the ride as we talk to Dagny!

 photo by  Patrick Quiring

photo by Patrick Quiring

Hey there, Dagny! How are you doing today?
I’m very Good. thank you! We’re in Austin at the moment.

Very cool. How is that going?
Very well. I mean we came in the bus last night, or well more in the morning so I haven’t really had a chance to properly check it out yet but so far it’s so good.

Oh great! You’re going to love Austin. Austin is an amazing city.
Oh, that’s what everybody says actually. Like a few guys from the band are from Austin and they’ll just like “oh, it’s such a cool city. You’ll love it”.  

Are you excited to be touring the U.S. by the way? Is this your first time here playing
music and touring around?

It’s the first time touring, but I have been here before quite a bit but like I’ve never done anything like touring the country before. You know? Like we’re going to so many cities. And like some cities that I’m going to, I’ll openly admit that I haven’t even heard about before the tour was planned. So I think I’m psyched that I’m going to get to explore in such a different way, but I’ve actually spent some time in L.A. before, and obviously New York and like some of the bigger cities too.

Since you’ve been going around the U.S. a lot does it differ a lot in your eyes as compared
to Europe? Like crowd or music wise?

Umm, I do think so in general, and this is super generalizing. This would probably not be proven if someone did research on it, but I do feel like people in America respond very well to like more mainstream pop. Well sometimes especially in Norway where I’m from it’s a very big scene of more of electronic and slightly darker more Nordic electronic sound. We don’t have so much like straight up pop. Compared to how we’ve done so far it’s been like a really good response from the audience. People are just so forward and they come up after the show and they’re so excited and you know they just show more appreciation, which is very nice.

So we’re like more open in a way?
Yeah, like more kind of forward in a way, but in a really nice way
 
Well that’s good to hear.
And another difference is obviously the size of it too. I mean I’m from Norway, which is a tiny country.  

I see I see. So, I've been digging into your music for a while now, and I've been wanting to ask
you a couple of questions about it. So I'd really love to learn what inspires you when you write music, and what motivates you? Your music has such a unique feel to it that it really has me curious about it.

Umm you know I get really inspired by the people that I work with. However, like I think that when I go into a session it’s all about the chemistry that you have with the person that you’re in the room with, and so a lot of the time I actually get really inspired by kind of my writing partner or whatever conversation that we have. So I think a lot of the stuff that I’ve been releasing it’s not just like songs that I feel particularly connected with. It’s also sessions that I felt particularly where I would get that extra special chemistry and energy between each other. Where you would leave that session where you would be like “Oh my god, I just made an amazing track with these people”. People I wanna keep in my life. And then I would say traveling as well is something that inspires me a lot. And you know, I’m hoping that we go on tour in the U.S. and then just write my whole fucking album based on this tour.

What is your favorite track you've written, and why? Is it still Backbeat or has it changed?
I mean, again, it’s like every song has its own story, and I’m proud of all of them, but right now I’m really loving “Wearing Nothing”, which was the latest single. I don’t know it was just kind of different, and it was (created) in a really very positive way, like a real challenge. And I feel now when we’re on this tour; whenever that comes up in the set, I’m like “Okay…. this feels good”. So right now I’m having a “Wearing Nothing” day if you could say that.
 
What inspired that song to come about would you say? What inspired that song to happen?
Um, you know we talked about this whole thing with connections between people? Like the chemistry between people. It was actually inspired by that feeling you get when you meet someone that makes you have that feeling where you just want to show them everything, and you just want to be completely bare with them. You just have like this magnetic energy between you both in a way.

Like you can just be completely vulnerable and honest with them?
Yeah! Exactly. Like you can be completely yourself, you can be completely open. You just want to tell them everything and show them everything. And I think we were kind of playing on that. Like that was the emotion, but then obviously playing on that in terms of like where even a simple piece of clothing is like too much space in between two people. Where you’re wanting to be completely bare in every sense of the word. So for us, we always wanted to keep that intimacy in it, and not make it too much in the word of naked, but more of in opening up to someone.

And being completely vulnerable with them and showing them your true self and just being
honest?

Exactly, that’s exactly right.

Wow, that’s so inspiring. I haven’t thought of that yet. It’s kind of inspiring.
Well yeah, it’s an inspiring emotion when you get it.

So whenever you write is there a certain person you write with or is it always changing? Does
that make sense?

Like my co-writers?

Yes! Is there one person you write with all the time, or is it always changing?
I used to, you know go to LA and I would go out there I would write with 60 different people.

Oh my gosh.
You would write with a lot of different people, but I think I’ve reached the point now where I’ve found the people that you connect with. I mean, (when you write with people) it’s like you put your everything on the table, and it’s like… “okay, listen to this story. We’re going to write about this”. And you know you’re a little bit out there when you’re in the sessions so I think when finding those people that can bring out the honesty and all the emotion, and find someone that you feel comfortable to talk about all the things that are going on in your life I think is important. So I’ve kind of found a group of people who I really connect with, and that inspire me and that I feel I can be open and honest with. So there's a group of people I would say that I always try to get in touch with when I have a chance, but I also totally like trying new people too because I obviously shouldn’t be against it.

Like closed off to new ideas?
Yeah, exactly. I write with a lot of Swedish people. It must be a Nordic thing that comes out.

I mean, they’re pretty great. Especially that one guy from the 90’s who wrote a ton of hit songs
from Sweden. If I remember correctly?

Yeah, Max Martin, right??

Yeah, Max Martin! He’s amazing at writing pop songs.
He’s like the songwriting guru, and his team is amazing. I’ve actually written with a ton of
people who work for him.

Oh, really?
Oh, yes. They have an amazing sense of pop music.

So, what makes a good pop song? Like, what are the parts that make an amazing pop song to
you? Is it lyrics or melody?

Ooooo, that’s a big question. If it makes me want to cry, or get up and dance I think we’re pretty much there. It’s either one or the other. Yeah, I don’t know. If I hear a song that makes me just want to fucking run down the street and feels like invisible and goes crazy in some weird musical way then that’s a good song.
 
Like it makes you want to just dance, and let loose but there’s still some melancholy behind it?
Yeah, absolutely. I love that mix of the melancholy and happy pop song that is mixed together. I think that is something I always try and achieve in my songs. That like really happy, uplifting or powerful thing, but with that slight touch of madness to it.
 
It kind of like touches your soul in that weird way of emotions?
Yeah, it does. It has kind of a hopeful sense to it. I always know when I found a new favorite pop song because I would listen to it non-stop for the next period of time, and then I’d wished I
wrote it of course. (laughs)

What are some songs you can’t get enough of right now?
Good question because the last week has been nothing but rehearsing and playing shows. Right now I’m on tour with LANY so I think there’s a good chance to say that I’m really loving their live show with having seen them now. What else have I been listening to? Let me picture my Spotify playlist. You know! Right now I’ve been having a throwback. You know Lana Del Ray? You know for some reason I never really caught on to her wave at first, but I saw her this summer and I’ve been listening to her loads. I’m a like a newborn Lana Del Ray fan.

Well there you go. So, what song are you listening to the most by her right now?
I’m really loving the song “Ride” right now. It’s like one of the songs I’ve listened to a million times, and I’m never sick of it. I saw her live in Oslo at the Øya Festival, and I was just like Holy Shit, what is this? What is this song?

Was just that good?
Yeah, it was like love at first listen.

Do you have a move you when do when you perform live?
Oh I have a move! I actually have a few moves. They’re very uncool, but for some reason, they kind of just work like the band would make fun of it, It’s like a weird thing I air drum a lot. Like I’ve always done it. Even when I was starting at 16 I’ve done it. I had a friend who used to play guitar, and I would just sing. There were only a few songs, but in my head, I could see the whole production.  So I would air drum while he would like be singing these acoustic ballads. So I’ve got a lot of weird moves.

Why'd you cover more, more, more? What drew you to cover that? It’s such a classic, but it’s
not Norwegian or Swedish so what made you want to cover it?

No, it’s not at all. Well when we made the Target commercial, which is what it was for
originally.

Ohh really? I had no idea.
So we kind of got this challenge to make this cover for the Target commercial, and it was really fun to work with something in that way because obviously, the result is so different from my own stuff. But then the fun part of it was trying to get this Target vision across in the music, and something that represents their brand. It was such a different way to go about making music that it was really fun, and it was something I really enjoyed by doing such a different challenge. You know? Sometimes it’s nice to take yourself out of your comfort zone, and outside of what you’re used to and what you normally do. And so I think we came out with a really fun and disco-inspired version of a great song.

And yeah, it totally makes sense with the whole “buying more items, and things.” that makes total sense now, and it’s kind of ingenious in a way, I remember that you said that you used to write more in the acoustic world, but now it seems like you’re doing mainly electronic stuff. What inspired that change, or did it just naturally happen?
I think it was natural. Like as I said I’m always kind of a little bit late to the party in every a sense of the word. I would like to just say before I say that I still think we make music that is quite organic and band driven in many ways. Like some of the recent recordings have been more electronic, but if you see us live it’s still very much like a band vibe with lots of energy, and real instruments because that’s what I love. So, I don’t know. I’m always discovering new ways to make music and like this more electronic approach to it has just expanded my world of sounds in the last two years since I’ve been able to write so much, and meet so many new people and producers and stuff. But in terms of this more singer-songwriter thing, I did before. I think that the reason why I wanted to go bigger sounding, more energetic, and more kind of punchy was it just kind of was more true to me. Like I’m not a really quiet, sit still person, and so it felt weird to  me to be on the stage and just sitting there with your acoustic guitar, and not get to move around.
 
It more was like a reflection of your personality then? Does that make sense??
Yeah, I mean I fucking love going to acoustic shows. I mean I still love going to singer-songwriter nights. Trying to discover new music and new songs. I would say the biggest transformation hasn’t really been going from an organic band driven to electronic. It’s just more been like going from a very, very small soundscape of like just an acoustic guitar to like making big, big pop songs, you know? and trying to make something that I can go on stage and let myself loose in a way. Because that’s what I want to do. I want to go up on stage, and for 40 minutes I just want to rock out, jump around, and sing and forget everything else

Now I'm going to give the mic to you so you can tell us anything you want to tell us. We are all
ears. What should we know from Dagny, herself? Is there anything that we didn't cover?

The most prudent thing I can say right now is if we’re coming to a city nearby, fucking come down to the show. We’re in America now, and we’re not in two months or in 3 months so if people want to come to the show then they should. I want to meet as many of them as I can on this tour.

 photo by  Patrick Quiring

photo by Patrick Quiring

Make sure you check out Dagny on the rest of her tour across the U.S.! She
continues her tour at the Filmore in LA!

Patrick Quiring