Monday, April 30, 2018

10 Questions For: Carina Dahl


Sounds European! has the honor of presenting one of the most entertaining interviews of our history. She is a very talented artist from Norway. And she has opened up and gone deep into the subjects we proposed as few have. And the result is amazing, as you can now see! These are our 10 questions for Carina Dahl:

Sounds European!: You have music running in your blood – your father, Morten "Diesel" Dahl, is the drummer of Norwegian band TNT. How was it to grow up living in the music environment? What are your earliest memories of your relationship with music?

Carina Dahl: My dad's band were super famous and they had their breakthrough right before I was born. My dad was touring around the United States during most of my mom's pregnancy, but he made it back home when I was getting born. He had all of his band members coming into the hospital... my mom said it was a bit chaotic.
When I look back, I think I had a kind of different upbringing, with a lot of trips. We stayed in Spain a lot before I started school, because that was closer to Norway than the United States. I had a normal school, and there were a lot of musicians from Norway in my neighborhood. I remember learning English really early. When I was five, if I picked up the phone and I heard something I couldn't understand, I would say "Hold on a minute" or something like that.
But I think one of my first big memories was with Paulen, who was the sound guy TNT has had for around 30 years, at a big concert in Spain. My mom was always sewing clothes for us, and she would always make the same for her and me – only mine was like a mini version. I think it looked very cute, a little family. So, I was sitting on Paulen's shoulders during a concert, and I see this guy in red speedos, with drumsticks and cowboy boots, in front of the stage, while the guitar solo was going on. Then Paulen said: "Carina, that's your dad". And I was: "OK, this is my life". So right there, I kind of understood what I was going into.

SE!: You had a solid career as a model when you started your transition to music. What made you decide to redirect yourself? And how was that process for you, how were your first steps into the professional music world?

CD: No, that's not true, actually. I did some modeling, some covers for magazines, just because I had the opportunity to do it. But I would never consider myself as a model. I've never been super skinny or tall or anything. I just did some fun stuff. I'm really curious and I like to have a lot of projects going on, so I always jump on to whatever I want to do. The modeling, the TV and everything else have just been projects on the side. Music has always been my main thing.
I've been making music since I was 15 years old – that was the first time I recorded an album. I recorded it together with the daughter of TNT's guitarist. I got a record deal right after I released some songs that I got from Stargate, around 2007 or 2008. Then, I took part of Melodi Grand Prix in 2011, and that's when people started to recognize who I was. I think 2011 was the year that everything started to get real, that I could live off it.

SE!: You took part of two editions of Melodi Grand Prix, in 2011 and 2013. How were those experiences, for you? What memories do you keep of them? And would you ever consider going for a third try?

CD: The experience was very good. It was something new to me. I had to do the choreography, but I also had the camera coreography. I had to sing, I had to dance, and I had to look to the different cameras, at different times, and it was all very planned. It was quite fun for me to be on such a big stage. It was a big step for people to know who I am.
In 2013, I actually got the wrong microphone stand. It didn't fit, so I was a little bombed out, because it kind of ruined my whole thing. I had three minutes to do everything on stage and then I got the wrong microphone stand. But, fortunately, I had done a lot of touring before I did Melodi Grand Prix, so I didn't get all messed up in my head. I was used to stuff not going as planned... maybe sometimes a sound didn't come through, or somebody played wrongly, or whatever. So I think I handled it pretty well.
It was a very nice experience. I got to meet a lot of people, and it was the cutest thing when girls were holding up signs with my name on and wanted to take pictures... it was fun.
If I would do it again, it would have to be the right song and the right time. I'd have to be really sure that this was right, you know. I got asked to do it last year, with a song that I didn't write, which they handed me, and I didn't like that song, so I couldn't do it. I don't have to write it myself, but I have to be sure that I stand for it and that I could say it's me.

SE!: As we see it, your music can be regarded as contemporary pop. Your releases are always very fresh, in tune with the most current tendencies in the world. How do you keep yourself so updated? And if it wasn't on us, but on you, how would you qualify your own music, in genre and style?

CD: Contemporary pop, fresh, in tune – thank you so much!
It's hard to put myself and others in boxes and genres. Normally, I like to write and make music that I listen myself. In the beginning, I did a lot of midtempo songs, and as the years went by, I've been making more upbeat and more danceable stuff. I would say that my style is pop. But nowadays, there are so many genres... Before, it was only pop; now, there are so many ways of doing pop. I don't know what I would call it! I wouldn't say tropical, but I would say, maybe, rhythmic pop. For me, it's important to have a cool beat, the kind that gets stuck, and then it's the melody lines that can't get out of your head. That's what I'm always trying to do.
Writing music is hard. So I do my best, and I'm very happy every time it works out. I released a lot of singles that didn't work out as well, and I have so many songs that I didn't even release! I work really, really hard, and I'm very happy when it works out and people like what I do.

SE!: There are several different moments in the daily life of a singer: songwriting, recording, performing live, promoting a new work, interacting with fans... How do you live each of these instances? And do you have a favorite one, among them?

CD: Yeah, it's a lot of things!
I've been working for myself since I was 19 years old. I have my own company, and I've been living off what I create since I was 19. I also have to do TV shows, events and other things, because being a musician isn't something you can always live well off.
I like every part: songwriting, recording, live performances, promoting, the whole process! Coming into the studio, not having anything and actually making a song from nothing. Listening to it the day after, playing it for a couple of friends and playing it for the label. You know, the whole process of working out the song, until it's like "OK, this is going to be released". Then preparing the photoshoots and the music videos... I love everything about it!
Performing live is one of my favorite things, because when I see people singing along, it means a lot. Performing was the main reason why I wanted to make music. I've been dancing and singing my whole life, always being on stage, always jumping around... Performing is my favorite thing to do, for sure.
But I'm really happy I'm a part of the entire process. Before, I didn't write songs. Now I do that as well, and all my songs are about something I'm going through at that time, or something I've gone through. Whenever I sing my songs, it takes me back to what I felt when I wrote it.
Also, it means a lot getting e-mails and stuff from girls, specially, but also boys, going through breakups, saying that a song of mine was helping them with what they were going through. For my song "NLTO (Not like the others)", I had a guy send me a picture, he tattooed "NLTO" across his heart. He has always felt he was different, and then he found that song, which says being different is a cool thing – and that's what I think too, when you're different, that's cool.
I always try to answer everybody that writes me on Instagram and Snapchat. I use a lot of time on that, but I think that if people take time to actually write me something, that's really big. So I have to get back, thank them and I try my best.

"I work really, really hard, and I'm very happy when it works out and people like what I do" (Picture: Johnny Wohlin)

SE!: For very long, Sweden was seen as the leading country of Scandinavian pop – and one of the most prominent nations across Europe. Recent years have presented a new panorama, with Norway getting more and more space in the scene. How do you analyze the current moment of Norwegian pop music?

CD: Over the last years, Norway has really made a standout in the industry. I lived in Sweden between 2006 and 2012 and I used to work with a lot of Swedish producers (and I still do). I find the Swedish producers and songwriters really good, and I always tend to go back to Sweden when I want to write. But if you look at the big [Norwegian] people, doing it big, like Kygo and all these other guys, they came along with music which is more electronic.
It's pretty cool that Norway is making a standout. In the '80s, when my dad was making music, a lot of good rock music came from Norway. Now, it's a lot of electronic music. Sigrid is really cool, Astrid S, Julie Bergan... It's fun to see that people can make it big out there. I'm still working on that. Also, everything is more viral now, so it's easier to get around.

SE!: You have just released a new single, "Waste no time". What can you tell us about it?

CD: I wrote my single "Waste no time" with a Swedish producer named Angus Logan. It was actually the first time we met and we worked together. My label put up the session, I flew out to Stockholm and I was like "Hi! I'm Carina!". We went into the studio, it was only the two of us, and we came up with that one. It's so cool that the first time we had a session, it already turned into a single!
It's kind of a sexy song. The lyrics are about when you go out, you see somebody and you think that person is interesting. So, instead of wasting time with not talking, you go and talk, get to know each other, get your bodies closer, whatever you want to do.
"Waste no time" is also one of my mottos in life. I travel and work a lot, and people ask me all the time: "How do you do it? Don't you get tired? You're always everywhere". I had 202 days traveling last year. But that's what keeps me going. I get a lot of energy from doing a lot of stuff. I did a jewelry line – three collections that got sold in 200 stores around Norway. Now, I'm going to do a bikini line and a sunglasses line. I do a lot of TV shows, I travel a lot for vacations, I do my music as well and I study Finance. So yeah, "Waste no time" is kind of what I live by. I'm so happy to have this life, everybody is lucky to have a life – and you have to take care of all the moments and just do everything you have the opportunity of doing. Waste no time!

SE!: Besides your new single, what can your fans expect from you in 2018? What are your professional projects for the near future?

CD: I was just telling you about the bikini line and the sunglasses line coming up. I'm going into the studio and hopefully I'm going to get some new songs to release after the summer. I think two songs a year is cool, and I've already released two songs – but I want to do one more, maybe in like August. I'm doing some more TV this year, and that's about it! New music coming out, some sunglasses and bikinis!

SE!: If you could choose anyone, who would be some Norwegian and international artists you would like to collaborate with?

CD: Oh my God, I can aim big here! I'm a really big Justin Bieber fan, so that would be sick. But there are so many! Zara Larsson, I think she's really cool. One of my first big role models was Madonna, actually. There are probably so many more people... I would love to work with Max Martin, the producer. Those ones, for sure!

SE!: We would like to finish this interview with a song of yours. What is your favorite song by Carina Dahl, and why?

CD: My favorite song by myself... I would say "NLTO (Not like the others)", because that was the first song that really hit the charts. It was in the 7th place after one day, and it's one of the songs that means a lot to me. "Champions" is also one of my favourite songs, because it's about being wherever you want to be, and how everybody can be a champion in whatever they want to do. When I wrote it and the first time I was singing it live, I was almost crying, I couldn't hold myself, because it meant so much to me.

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