In our third installment of Sounds of Scandinavia, we take a look at 20 of the best music acts coming out of Norway.
In this third installment of our Sounds of Scandinavia series feature, we showcase the eclectic talent that’s emerging out of Norway. At present, the country’s particularly known for acts such as Röyksopp, Todd Terje, Kygo and Cashmere Cat. In the list below, Lindstrøm and Pandreas uphold the country’s reputation in electronic brilliance. The accolade of Norway’s Next Big Thing(s) goes to Highaskite and Team Me while electro-pop chanteuse Mr. Little Jeans and singer-songwriters Aurora Aknses and Emilie Nicolas represent powerful women in the field of pop music. In alphabetical order, these acts prove that what the country may lack in population it makes up in its dense musical experimentations and endeavors. Once you're through with this one, check out our recommendations of Danish and Swedish music acts.
Describing herself as a “dreamer and a thinker,” Aurora started making music when she was just nine years old. Now 18, she’s dropped a number of wonderfully delicate tracks since 2012. “Puppet” is an astonishing debut effort and “Awakening” released earlier this year garnered her wider attention. There’s fragility within the music, certainly, but the maturity and subject matter of her lyrics belie her young age. Listing Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen as her inspirations, she’s delivered a cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” and put her own spin on Miley’s “Wrecking Ball.” This year saw her play at a number of important showcasing events and festivals – First We Take Berlin, Ja Ja Ja and Øya – and she’s also been working on her full-length album, set to be released very soon. Visit her SoundCloud for more.
The rap scene in Norway may not be hugely established but it is there. Well-know rappers include Karpe Diem, LidoLido and Diaz. Awill - who describes himself as a “boom bapper”- is slowly making a name for himself in the scene and has received notable online praise. He started rapping at the age of 14, spent some of his teenage years in the States and relocated back to Oslo to focus on his career. He dropped his debut mixtape, The Human Society, in 2012, which was followed by “Right Or Wrong." The EP can be heard via WhyBe Collective’s SoundCloud. The young rapper impresses with his lo-fi sound, choppy beats and meticulous delivery – his talent landed him a showcasing slot at this year’s SXSW - just listen to his track "Aristocracy." He’s also released a series of well-produced videos for the majority of his tracks; check them here.
Combining folk and pop, four-piece Comet Kid are creating a sound that is carefree and heartfelt. Describing himself as the “dancing, songwriting, bearded vocalist” frontman Andreas Kjøll started up a fundraiser on Indiegogo to help them produce their debut album. They may not have got the financial result they needed, but Roots –released early this year - was nonetheless written, recorded and produced. It presents a collection of catchy tracks that combine soul and blues with indie folk. It’s a solid first effort and landed them a strong following in a short amount of time. Watch their acoustic rendition of “Psychopath” and the official video for the lovely “Diamonds." You can purchase their album Roots via iTunes.
A mere two years ago, Emilie Nicolas was studying music in Oslo, now she’s being celebrated as one of Norway’s talents to watch. She (unintentionally) started her career with a cover of Dumdum Boys “Pstereo” – commissioned by a Norwegian festival as part of their marketing campaign; it garnered widespread attention and was nominated for at P3 Gull (the award show of the Norwegian Public Broadcaster). Her own debut track “Grown Up” is much more the sound she wanted to create for her project; it’s a heartfelt and honest account of her relationship with her father. The track “Nobody Knows” is another enchanting display of her gorgeous, glossy voice. The singer-songwriter spent this year touring various festivals and shows (plus opening for CHVRCHES) and most crucially, working on her debut album. We’re hugely eager to see what the result yields in January 2015.
A singer from an early age and contributor to a number of bands, Kari Jahnsen has now turned her hand to her own solo singer-songwriting project Farao. The Norwegian multi-instrumentalist is producing compelling folk-pop; despite feeling at home in cold climates there’s warmth to be found in the vocals and lyrics. “The Hours” is accompanied by a hypnotizing stop-motion video made up of shots of Norway (her homeland), Iceland (where she’d like to live and marry a bearded Viking) and London (birthplace of the EP, produced by Tunng’s Mike Lindsay). Her self-titled four-track EP was released this February and can be found on her SoundCloud. Pick up her self-titled EP via iTunes.
Highasakite are Norway’s current musical darlings. They’ve received both national and international success – critical and commercial – and avid fan Justin Vernon invited them on tour with Bon Iver. Their debut album All That Floats Will Rain was released in 2012, followed by two EPs. Her sophomore album Silent Treatment reached #1 on Norway’s album chart and won Dagbladet’s Norwegian Album of The Year. Each single release is accompanied by a moving visual account, like the official video for "My Soldier," and "Indian Summer," proving that Norwegians are well aware that music is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears. The group’s music is full of contrasts; it’s spacious and dense, eccentric and accessible. It’s a stark dreamy affair of drums, percussions and synths with Ingrid Helene Håvik’s vocals moving graciously through it all. Purchase their recent album Silent Treatment.
Eclectic vocalist Jenny Hval writes, sings and produces under her real name as well as under the alias Rockettothesky. Her body of work is mesmerizing – both sonically and conceptually. Her debut album Cigars was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy in the Best Newcomer category. She then released two studio albums under Rockettothesky and has since returned to her birth name and released full-lengths Viscera in 2011 and Innocence Is Kinky (2013). The video for the album’s title track offers a provocative and sensual look at the female body; it’s the perfect visual partner for the strikingly frank lyrics. It’s her dense lyricism that make Jenny Hval stand out so. Her former work as a freelance columnist and writer and author of published novel Perlebryggeriet have both contributed to her definitive and bold voice. It’s strange, it’s sensual and it’s stunning. Try out her album Viscera.
Norwegian producer Jerry Folk may still be a teenager but his remixing prowess is hugely impressive. He’s gained widespread attention for his work on tracks by Pharrell, Chromeo, The Fugees and fellow Norwegian electronic producers Lemaitre. “Nostalgia” on his Soundcloud is just that – an eclectic choice of tracks from the early '00s - and it’s hugely infectious. His indie dance edit of classic R&B single “Suga Suga” reached Number 1 on Hypem. Adding groovy basslines and a funk-infused cut, he throws in a Samuel L. Jackson vocal sample to further surprise. This young Norwegian is certainly on his A-game and we can’t wait to see what else he comes up with. Go check out his SoundCloud.
Kid Astray’s forte is creating incredibly catchy pop songs. From their first official offering “The Mess” (created in just six hours) to their latest song “Back To The Ordinary," the uplifting sounds of this Norwegian six-piece are filtered through their own adolescent realities. Fresh out of high school (where they met), the indie pop band has a penchant for fun, carefree music; they formed effortlessly and it shows in their music. Members of the band include a Vogue model, a junior golf champion and a piano prodigy – and we’re not joking. Check out seven-track EP Taking You With Me via their Soundcloud here.
One of Norway’s finest musical exports, Lindstrøm is often hailed as the country’s contemporary disco king. Releasing a steady stream over the years, his art is a dizzying affair of layering, shimmering melodies and sonic arrangements that constantly build and hypnotize. Directed by Kristoffer Borgli, the video for “Vōs-sākō-rv” offers a clever and creative contrast to the typical music video format. Three-time winner of the Norwegian Grammys, Lindstøm runs his own label Feedelity Records and has released all four of his studio albums via the imprint. He also frequently collaborates with fellow Norwegian producer Prins Thomas under the conveniently titled project Lindstørm & Prins Thomas. Termed “space disco,” their sound fuses electro with prog and krautrock and is well worth familiarizing yourself with. Check out some of his releases via iTunes.
Mr. Little Jeans
Before breaking onto the scene, Monica Birkenes used to sing in church choirs, retirement homes, malls and bars. Taking on an alter ego, Mr. Little Jeans – the name’s taken from a character in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore – the electro pop-chanteuse is making music that’s intelligent, sophisticated and - crucially - accessible. The track “Rescue Song” has been used in a HP commercial and her cover of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” has garnered over four million YouTube views. Pocketknife was produced in LA and is a wonderful first full-length effort that has landed her comparisons with Kylie and Karen O. Both romantic and bold, her intricate songs are rich with poetic lyricism and are equal parts thought provoking and dancefloor ready. Watch the video for her excellent lo-fi dance track, "Good Mistake."
Behind the moniker Pandreas is 21-year-old Bergen resident Andreas Kleven Rasmussen. He’s responsible for creating bright, cultivated electronica rich with organic textures, sparkling synth lines and sweet vocal samples. Tracks such as “Rås” and “Rube” have nestled him securely within Norway’s brilliant and rising electronic scene. What’s particularly remarkable about the young producer is his talent to strike a balance between patience, tension and restraint. Track “Beluga” is accompanied by a beautiful video of computer-generated whales; the movement of the marine mammals wonderfully corresponds with the glossy, repetitive quality of the track. Crafted by Jonathan Turner, the New York artist is also responsible for the digital work on Glasser’s Interiors album. Check out Pandreas’ SoundCloud, which features the Beluga EP and various other tracks. Get his debut self-titled EP.
From the signature heart she paints over her eye (during video shoots and live shows) to the positive message she’s sending out (be yourself), Indian-born Norwegian singer Samsaya is all about love. Fusing contemporary pop with traditional Indian sounds, her self-titled four-track EP was released this summer. Bursting with hugely infectious sounds, it includes fresh and fun “Bombay Calling” and “Stereotype,” which is accompanied by a feel-good video. You can purchase her self-titled EP from iTunes.
Electro-pop chanteuse Sandra Kolstad is big in her homeland Norway and rightly so. She’s been releasing a steady flow of music since 2011, touring extensively and is responsible for some wonderfully weird and vibrant videos - “Run Away (Where are We?)” was officially selected for the SXSW Film Festival. Released in October, Zero Gravity State of Mind is listed as one of 2014’s Best Albums on a number of important Scandinavian platforms such as Aftenposten and Dagbladet. Koldstad’s sound impresses with its glitchy synths, busy arpeggios and a vocal range that delights; we recommend starting with “Praise” from debut album Crux (which samples Fever Ray) and making your way to her latest full-length offering. Buy her album Zero Gravity State Of Mind now from iTunes.
Named after Beck’s 2002 studio album, Sea Change combines vocal harmonies with loop-based sounds and icy electronics; her music constantly surprises. Behind the moniker is A. W. Sundes; she’s been touring fairly extensively (with three live band members) this year as she prepares for her debut album release. Her ambient pop impresses with the space and mystery between its beats, as exemplified in her track "Bridges." Born in the '80s she’s always been fascinated with unusual noises and improvising with music – we can’t wait to see what sonic amalgamations her debut holds. Check out her SoundCloud for more.
With glitchy, sample-based beats and big open soundscapes, Norwegian producer Snasen is crafting a world that is dark and ominous, one in which impending danger looms. This may not sound like a pleasurable listening experience, but our senses are heightened to such an extent that pleasure is something of little concern. It’s unsurprising that Robin Snasen Rengård is also a graphic designer and used to be in a punk band called Amulet. The tracks are heavy on the bass, the production is meticulous – the techno experimentalist is said to have spent an intensive month-long session in the studio. Result of the labor is EP Grok released this month via Sellout! Music. The EP can be found in its entirety on the label’s SoundCloud. His full-length debut is due to drop February 2015 and you can buy his recently released EP Grok via iTunes.
Amidst a myriad of instruments and multitude of sonic layers, six-piece Team Me capture the listener with their exuberant energy and expansive sound. In their very early days, the band was picked out at a showcasing competition for upcoming Norwegian bands; repeated Norwegian radio play and festival appearances ensued. Their debut, To the Treetops! - recorded over a hectic five-week period – was dubbed one of the best debuts from a Norwegian band ever. Playfully experimental, it positively bursts with handclaps, chanting, shouty singing, percussion crashes, violins, synths and keyboards. The video for “Show Me” is well worth checking out as well, as is their official site, and their album To The Treetops!.
After working in a number of indie rock bands - Lukestar and Tuls & The Threes – Truls is now creating a new vocal-centric project for himself. Tinged with R&B beats, his new sound bursts with electro-pop hooks and his unbelievably high falsetto. Wholly impressive, it’s easy to see why he was voted Norway’s “Act To Watch in 2013” by various platforms. His full-length album TRVLS was released in 2013 and has since been followed up by a number of individual tracks such as “Out Of Yourself” and “The Next”. Both tracks are accompanied by visuals that depict a bizarre universe. Purchase his album TRVLS via iTunes.
There’s not much in the way of words online in regards to Yoguttene, but there’s plenty of visuals by way of their YouTube and Instagram accounts. In order to paint some sort of picture, we’ll describe a handful: cat masks, one horse mask and a numerous skulls, a girl with gold grillz and facial tattoos, three members cladded in Supreme and Carhartt gallivanting through the streets of Oslo, a pineapple at a party and a middle-aged man in neon sunglasses hanging upside down at said event. Watch the video for "Dino$aurer" and "HI$TORIE" to see for yourself. All their track titles are CAPITALI$ED and include the dollar sign wherever possible. Sonically, it’s a bizarre display of soft Norwegian rap, jazzy electronics and penchant for autotune. Buy their LP 1000 Tak to hear more from the trio.
Despite hailing from rainy Bergen, pop collective Young Dreams’ sound evokes a tropical, summery feel. Describing as their sonic ventures as “happy accidents” they combine falsetto harmonies with breezy riffs, choral background singers and various instruments. Their teenage dreams make up the lyrics; the band’s youthful energy resonates throughout. Crafting a retro-pop sound that’s reminiscent of – and inspired by - the Beach Boys. There’s also a couple of songs on their album that sound heavily inspired by the likes of Vampire Weekend, such as "First Days Of Something," as well as Grizzly Bear influences. Released on Modular People (Robyn, Tame Impala), their debut album Between Places can be heard in full via their SoundCloud. Listen to their beautiful album Between Places now by copping it on iTunes.