Monday, March 12, 2018

10 Questions For: Hanne Leland


It's finally time to begin our 2018 season of interviews! And there couldn't be a better way to start it: we had the chance to talk to one of the most talented new artists rising in the Norwegian music scene. These are our 10 questions for Hanne Leland:

Sounds European!: Let's start from the beginning. How was your relationship with music during your childhood? Who were your music idols when you were growing up? Do you feel they influenced, in any way, the singer you came to be?

Hanne Leland: I have always been obsessed with music. I can't remember not singing. I grew up on a farm far out on the countryside in Norway, and I think growing up outside of the city made me extra creative, as I had to make my own fun. My childhood heroes were Britney Spears and Destiny's Child, I thought they were the most amazing performers (and they really are!!), so I felt super inspired by them. When I got a little older, I started listening to Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos and got into songwriting. I have been heavily shaped by female artists.

SE!: You started singing and playing instruments at a very young age. How did it happen? What are your first memories of singing and playing? What instruments do you play? And when did it hit you that you wanted to take music as your career?

HL: Looking back, I see that music was a large part of my identity already as a kid. I started singing along to these Norwegian children songs when I was super little (that's my first memory of singing), and then when I was like eight or nine, I started making up my own songs. I would sing them in front of anyone who would listen. When I got a little older, I started taking lessons in piano and guitar, and got involved in the local music community. I still play a little guitar and piano, but I usually just use it for songwriting purposes, and leave it to the pros when I'm performing. I've always wanted a career in music. I have always been very determined, and have never really considered doing anything else.

SE!: The first steps of your recording career took place in the United States. And you showed a lot of personality: you gave up a fully-recorded album for not liking its result. Is it hard to stay true to yourself, as an artist, when you are starting a career?

HL: That was such a difficult choice, because I had spent three months in the United States recording a full album, and I just wasn't happy with the sound of it. So I decided to throw it away, and start all over again. It was definitely not an easy decision to make, but I'm happy I did, because the songs and the production weren't good enough. I went to Nashville, and went to writing sessions and recorded new material.
It's definitely hard staying true to yourself as an artist, especially when you're new in the game. There are so many people with so many different opinions on what you should and shouldn't do, and you can't listen to them all. Ultimately, you just have to go with your gut feeling.

SE!: After that first attempt, you went to Nashville and finally released an album, with country music. Later, you switched your work to pop and electropop. Why did you change? And do you feel you've found your genres with pop and electropop? Or is there a chance of your switching genres again in the future?

HL: I grew up listening to both country and pop music, so I always thought I wanted to make a country-pop album. I love the storytelling aspect in country songs, and writing country-pop came really natural to me. But after that first album, I felt like I wanted to do something different. I'm just as much a pop girl as I'm a country girl, and I thought that if I kept the storytelling aspect and my identity in my songwriting, it would still feel authentic to me to switch to electro-pop. It was a natural transition. Scandinavia has so much great pop music, and I guess I was inspired by that as well. I definitely feel like pop is my genre now. I'm going to stick to making pop music, and experiment within that genre.

SE!: You have already based yourself in Norway, United States, United Kingdom... Do you feel your international experience has affected your production? What do you think each of these countries contributed to the music you make nowadays?

HL: I've worked with producers from all over the world, and I think that has affected my sound. I think I have a little bit of the American pop sound in my music, as I've worked in the United States a lot. But I also think you can hear the Scandinavian sound in my songs, as that's such a big part of my identity. I just try to make great pop music that tells a story and has purpose in it. I don't think too much about whether it sounds Norwegian, American or British, as long as it's great.

"I don't think too much about whether it [my music] sounds Norwegian, American or British, as long as it's great" (Picture: Maddie Cordoba)

SE!: Your home country, Norway, is becoming one of the most proficient nations when it comes to electropop. How do you see the relationship between Norwegian artists and audience and electropop? Is it easier to promote your music in a country which has embraced your style?

HL: Norway is doing amazing in the international music scene these days, and that's super exciting. It's great to be a Norwegian artist these days, because people actually listen to Norwegian pop music now, and it hasn't always been that way (Sweden used to rule the pop charts internationally). The fact that Norwegian artists are doing well internationally benefits all Norwegian artists and songwriters. Everyone's paying attention to what comes out of Norway now.

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

HL: I'm releasing a lot of new music! I have a new single in May. More news will be announced on my website,, so bounce over there and sign up to my newsletter to get the updates first! :)

SE!: Looking a bit further in the future, what are your biggest dreams? What do you still want to achieve as an artist?

HL: I want to make music that matters and I want to reach as many people as possible with it. I also want to play at stadiums, and release more albums. I want to have a really long career.

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

HL: Norwegian artists I would love to collaborate with would be Stargate, Seeb, and Cashmere Cat. Internationally, I would have to say Sia, Tove Lo and Jack Antonoff (Bleachers). They are all amazing.

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

HL: My favorite Hanne Leland song is always the newest one. So, in this case, that is "Carry on".

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