Susanne Sundfør is proving to be quite the pop contender this year. Her upcoming album, Ten Love Songs, is a bit of a revelation: full of spiky, relentless synth-pop, it’s a heady journey into the ravines of a broken relationship. David Yates sat down with one of Norway’s finest exports for a chat about the album and everything around it.
Ten Love Songs is close to release. How are you feeling about the record?
I’m very pleased, especially as we’ve been waiting a year – it was actually done last March so it feels good that it’s finally out.
Having already listened to the album, Ten Love Songs aren’t really conventional love songs, are they?
Well, I guess that’s why I thought it was an interesting title. We can summarise what’s conventional and that’s not always what you get. I like it.
It’s quite an emotional album but what began the process? Was it a lyric, a melody, a feeling?
Well I think it’s a mixture of all of it. I had two songs long before the rest of the album, Accelerate and Trust Me, and I was trying to make a universe out of the two songs. I tried to continue making something similar both musically and thematically.
I wrote Fade Away in a completely different direction and from there, I wanted to make songs that would fit in, in a way. And then I found the album title covers them all. With The Silicone Veil and The Brothel, I had titles before I started making most of the songs where as with with Ten Love Songs, the title came later.
The album is great, almost temperamental and unexpected in its tone, as is love itself. We very much enjoyed it.
Thank you, thank you so much.
Well actually that’s a question for the label because I don’t really meddle with that. (Laughs) It’s for them to decide what is the best single because they probably know it better than me! I assume its because they are the most catchy songs on the album , if you can call them catchy. That’s why.
And what of their remixes, particularly that jumpin’ Richard X remix?
I love all of them, I think they’re fantastic. I got some really good artists this time to do them. I’m a big fan of I Break Horses, so that was really cool.
Purely because the album feels quite cinematic, there are moments of tension and a lot movement in your sound – do you already have plans for the videos? Could it have been a visual album?
I often start with a vague idea of a sound and I can think in visual terms. Like on Ten Love Songs, I was thinking a lot of statues, buildings and… weapons, in the beginning. And then it changed into more romantic visions.
So, ultimately, what is the difference between Ten Love Songs and previous Susanne Sundfør albums?
Well I think this is probably a bit more direct both musically and lyrically and its more communicative and I guess the sound is quite different opposed to the last two albums, a bit more electronic. Maybe a bit more dynamic and dramatic.
Are there any of the tracks on there you would like to be chosen as a single?
I guess the fun in a single release is that sometimes you get to make a music video so that’s why I thought Delirious was a good choice, because if we do make a video for it, it’s quite a scenic song so I think it’d make a great video.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Indeed – we bloody love them both. Now, your tour starts in London (March 3rd) and the venue has already been upgraded… but where is weirdest place you’ve played a gig?
I did a show once where there were about 15 people there and they were all over 60, that was very strange. They very sweet but it was a bit bizarre.
So, we’ve heard you’re a sucker for pop music but who? Any contemporaries?
Right now I have to say, its quite fantastic but Just One of The Guys by Jenny Lewis. I think she’s my number one when it comes to good pop.
There’s been a lot of worldwide commercial chart success recently for multiple acts from your neck of the woods. What do you think it is that your side of Europe brings, musically?
I think there is someone who has a theory about Swedish music – it’s because of Abba and that we love pop songs. In Scandinavian music, culturally they focus a lot on melody. But there are a lot of different Scandinavian sounds from bubblegum pop to black metal. Americans and British people maybe think that Scandinavian music is pretty exotic.
There are multiple artists who you’ve worked with on this album (M83, Big Black Delta) but what is most important to you, as an artist when working with someone else?
Well, chemistry is very important. I mean, I like a good argument, its good to work with people who are passionate about what they do. But I think understanding each other musically is the most important thing.
Lastly, what are your plans for this coming year?
Well right now, I’m focused on my tour – its going to be a long one and then after that, I’ll work on the next album.
Susanne – thank you.
Ten Love Songs is out on 16th February; Fade Away and Delirious are out now.