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Interview: Siv Jakobsen

I was fortunate enough to speak with Siv Jakobsen as she prepares for the release of her new live album. Siv was raised in Asker, just outside of Oslo and went on to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It was here that she made the leap from vocalist to a songwriter. “In almost every song there is some frustration,” says Norwegian singer-songwriter about her debut album, The Nordic Mellow. Released in 2017, it is an intense work, loaded with the intimacy of her delicate voice, acoustic guitar, strings and unfiltered lyrics.

Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
I’ve been doing music my whole life, so it’s a bit difficult to pinpoint a specific moment to be honest. I’d say it started out with singing in choirs at a very young age (4 y/o), then it developed into something I saw myself doing as a profession in my teens. As far as influences go I’ve been very inspired by my parents, especially their work-ethic. They ran a store together in Oslo throughout my childhood, and that really showed me that you can create your own job if you really want it and you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

Siv Jakonsen. Taken by Jorgen Nordby

How did you find it going from Asker over to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston? It must have been a very different pace to life.
I think I was very ready to go to college at that point – I guess it was a different way to live, but I loved it a lot so it felt very natural for me.

For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
I love all my songs, so I don’t want to pick favourites. I’d encourage people to listen to either (or both) the album or EP from start to end, I’ve put them in the order they are for a reason, and I’d love for the listener to experience the ebbs and flows of the EP/album.  I’d also very much recommend having a listen to the live album when it’s out April 27th – it’s a great way to hear what I sound like live, and I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out.

…Everything I listen to, read or watch inspires me in some way, although not always consciously.

Could you tell me a little bit about your approach to writing songs? Are you someone who is always making notes or will you lock yourself away for a period of time to focus?
I tend to work in phases; touring phases, writing phases, recording phases. They’ll naturally spill into each other a bit, but mostly I do one thing at a time. I like locking myself away for a period of time to only focus on writing, it makes it easier to write more and better, at least that’s how it is for me.

What bands and artists are you currently listening to and are they inspiring you to explore and implement new ideas with your music?
I think everything I listen to, read or watch inspires me in some way, although not always consciously. I enjoy learning other peoples songs and learning new guitar patterns, chords and tunings that way – I’ve never had a guitar teacher as such, but have always learned by learning songs I like.

How do you feel when you share your music for the first time? Do you prefer to share new music live where you can see the crowd’s reaction first hand or online perhaps?
I’ve never really thought of this – but it somehow feels a bit safer to record it first, and then perform it live once the form of the song is decided. I’ve done both though – and it’s completely nerve-wracking regardless of how I do it.

Can you remember much about your early experiences of going to watch live shows?
One of my earliest memories of going to a live show was watching The Spice Girls live in the Oslo Spectrum Arena. I didn’t go to shows much before I turned 18 as most venues here are 18 and over unfortunately.

What can those fortunate enough to have tickets expect from your live show?
It depends on the show! For the London gig I’m doing June 4th at St Pancras Old Church I’m bringing a string quartet and piano player, so that will be really special. Normally it’s a slightly smaller setup, usually me, my piano player and a string player. Sometimes less, sometimes more. I like changing things up!

Her forthcoming live album ‘Live In Oslo’ is available from April 27th. Recorded in front of a live audience at Rockefeller in Oslo, Siv’s home city, the album brings together a selection of tracks from Siv’s debut album The Nordic Mellow and her debut EP The Lingering.


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