How’d you get started in music? I guess I started in my hometown, originally, I wanted to write music and that was kind of what my big passion was. Just the feeling of creating music, and then, I started performing… and there was no turning back at that point. Then I moved to London and that’s when I became very serious about it and realized just how many people were serious about music and figured out what it takes to eventually go on a tour like this and be releasing music.
I know you started off with a more folky sound, what inspired the change to pop? I think it was a very natural thing. When I started taking more control over it myself, I realized I’m kind of a loud person. I have a lot of energy, and I’m from Norway, we’ve got balls. It felt very weird to be on stage and just stand there with an acoustic guitar and be very soft-spoken, it didn’t feel like me anymore. So, I started playing around with the drums and electric guitar and that rush of being able to jump around on stage and just move, it felt like me.
Yeah, your music is pretty rambunctious, much like your music and your live stage presence. Exactly.
How was it when Republic Records called up and wanted to sign you? It was in a really weird place, because we had just released “Backbeat” and didn’t have any plan whatsoever, and then suddenly all these labels are coming in and then we were flown out to LA for like 48 hours. And coming from Tromsø, a small town in northern Norway, it was pretty surreal.
But the Republic showcase I did is one of my best memories. I went in there and there was like 80 people at this massive firm in the middle of New York, and I remember starting off the first song, and he played it in the wrong key and I just remember thinking, “Okay, I’m going to fuck it all up.” And by song number four, everyone was singing, clapping and standing, it was just the most insane feeling. I jumped on the plane back that night and by the time I landed in London, they’d made an offer.
Kind of piggybacking off of “Backbeat,” I saw it was featured in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Did you watch Grey’s before? Holy shit, yeah!
So knowing of you beforehand, as I was watching the episode I was like… Holy shit, that’s Dagny! Yeah, when Meredith was there lying in bed and “Backbeat” came on, I was like “Is this real??”
It was amazing. And the Grey’s soundtrack has always been huge for me, because they always play such good music. I actually discovered quite a lot of music from Grey’s Anatomy myself as well.
Yeah, isn’t that how Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” got so big? And one of my favorite Cardigans song because of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
Tell me about your latest release, “Love You Like That.” I was quite nervous about it. I’ve always been wary about using “I love you” as a phrase in a song, and then I just fucking went and did it like sixty times.
May as well go in with a bang. Exactly. So then, I was like, it’s either going to go really well, or people are gonna go “What. The. Fuck.” It’s a very special song to me. I was very excited about it since the day I wrote it and it feels good.
Any plans for an album? Or maybe another EP? No, but more singles! We’re just going to keep releasing tracks. I’m going to go on another headline tour in February in Scandinavia and by then I just want to release a lot of songs. I think this year is a lot about touring and writing and next year I just want to release as much music as possible. We kind of got a late start this year, “Wearing Nothing” came out in May, so I’m hoping for the first single to come out in February next year.
You’ve had some amazing collaborations so far, who are some people you’d love to work with? I would love to work with MØ.
I like that! Scandinavian power. If we could have a Scandinavian girl power group, that would be so fun. And the video would be SICK. We can add some more girls in there as well… so me, MØ and…
I really love Zara Larsson. Yeah, she’s very cool too. She’s very brave because she’s quite young. She seems very mature, but she started out very early.
Another thing to totally fangirl about… I was having dinner, watching TV, and all of a sudden I hear a familiar voice… and then I look up and see your face! How’d the Target commercial come about? It was a very different project. It was a challenge to soundtrack their brand, rather than my own in a way. Doing music, you want to do it because it’s creative and fun, and I think people get so stuck up on “I can only do this because this is what I do!” But actually, you just want to be creative and, for me, it was such a challenge to work on something that’s SO different from my own thing. The song feels very much like Target, and I’ve never done anything like that before. And to be in the video, filming the actual commercial was really cool.
To what extent, if any, does your personal style effect your music? I think you can say so much through clothing. I love clothing and I love vintage clothing, especially.
I saw somewhere that you wish you knew how to sew. Abso-fucking-lutely. It really is a real goal to be able to make my costumes and dresses. It’s another way of expressing yourself and I think that’s always been clothes for me. I think the older I get, and the more confident I get, I feel braver and feel like I can put crazier stuff on. Or even better, put whatever I want on, like this coat which is 3 sizes too big, and I love it and I don’t care. It makes me feel strong, or good, and for me, clothes need to make you feel strong. When I go up on stage, if I don’t feel comfortable, I’m not going to be comfortable or act comfortable or sing the best I can. The moment you put something on that makes you feel bossier, or stronger, then you’re going to be that.
I think I’m changing it often too, I think with every EP or track release, I’ve debuted a new look. When I release a new song, I think “What am I gonna do for this one?” And think about how it’s going to look. Like my bangs! It was like a $5 haircut. I couldn’t find a place that would take me, so I jumped into this random place doing it for only $5. Everyone’s like “ooh, I love this new look for your record,” but I just wanted bangs. But in hindsight, I see it’s a new sound, a new look, and it’s exciting.
Are there any female artists that you’ve always looked up to? Joni Mitchell, MØ, anyone that’s strong and themselves, whatever that is. I feel like myself, I’m quite feminine, but I’m also quite tomboyish. I don’t know why, but a lot of artists I’ve looked up to are similar. Nina Persson from The Cardigans is fucking wicked. I was very inspired by this kind of female-fronted bands from the 90s when I first started with “Backbeat” and “Ultraviolet.”
The Cardigans, No Doubt, The Cranberries, and all these boss bitches. There’s not one particular, though. I always get questions like “Who’s ONE artist” but you can’t think like that. You should be inspired by different things for different reasons. I love Joni Mitchell for her melodies and lyrics, and Ryan Adams for his incredible way of setting an emotion, MØ for her attitude, and Taylor Swift for her fucking hooks. It’s all different.
Have you found any places that inspire you? For me, there’s a café with a gorgeous view of NYC and I just sit there and work. I do, as well. I’m not really home a lot and never in one place for a long time, but when I am and need to get stuff done, I always sit myself down in a café and work. But when it comes to music, I’m always inspired in LA, but that’s because that’s the only place I stay long enough and go into sessions everyday. I also think creativity inspires more creativity. When I go write everyday, I get inspired to continue it, it’s like turning your brain on and it just starts working.
But also, I do find I get quite inspired by nature, like when I go home to northern Norway. There’s something so peaceful and nice about the area. When I’ve been away for a while, and I come back to it, I fall in love with it all over again. More than anything, I get inspired by the chemistry between people more than a place or a view. I also find inspiration when I’m really into someone, or if someone just intrigues me.
Probably helps if you meet a cute boy. (laughs) Yeah, like Scott over there.
What artists have you been obsessed with lately? I’ve been obsessed with this one song that someone played me on the tour bus, “Wolf” and “Porcelain” by Skott, and it’s been on repeat.
I love her too, check out “Mermaid.” Hmm, who else. Julia Michaels! I’m fucking obsessed with her. I love that song “Make It Up To You.” It’s on her EP, not a single or anything.
As a fast rising artist, is there a piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out? Three things: follow your gut always, learn your instrument, and be persistent, don’t give up. Like, I’m 27 and I’m going on my first US tour now. Some people do it when they’re 19, but I was a fucking child when I was 19. I was not one of those people that was super switched on, I just wanted to travel the world.
What’s one thing you’d want to change about the music industry? It’s so extreme, in every way. It’s extremely fast up and extremely fast down. Either everyone’s saying you’re the next Taylor Swift, or you’re nothing at all. Creating art takes time, creating music takes time. You can downfall as an artist if one single doesn’t just smash it in the charts, and that’s what annoys me. It’s wrong. I’m doing my own thing, but I see other people as well. I see people chatting about an artist, and saying “Oh, so and so is the next best thing” then three weeks later they say “Oh, no… It’s not really working.”
Definitely. I think there needs to be more of an indicator. Like you can have a great track, but then the album sucks. But even then! So what, you have a shitty album, then you go and write another one and it can be so much better! From a musician’s point of view, it’s not something you want to do for just the year. It’s something you want to do for your life, because you love music. There’s also a lot of talk and bullshit. I love being straight-up. I don’t need people to sugarcoat stuff for me. I’ve been very tough on my team about that, because then you’re just wasting your time. I was with another label before, and they were always beating around the bush, and it had been three years just wasted. I would never do that if I was a manager to my artists… If I ever sign any artists.
Is that something you’d want to pursue? Starting up your own label or management company? Yeah, I think so.
When would you say you’re feeling your best, most confident? Just when I’m happy. On this tour, we’ve had a really good time, I get to do music every night. I get crazy if I don’t have anything to do. Now I’m on tour, writing, performing every night. It’s a lot of work. How about you?
Probably when I have a nice outfit on, or tried something new, or have a bold colored lipstick on. I love that! I put a lot of lipstick on too. And that’s taking it back to clothes. If I put something on in the morning, and I feel like it was the wrong decision, it’ll affect me all day. But if I put something on and it makes me feel confident, you just feel like you’re on clouds.
What has been your favorite city so far? On this tour, I think Philadelphia because it was so beautiful. They have these walls with all these glasses in them, and it’s beautiful. We were in a really cool, kinda funky area. And also, Washington D.C., but those are the two cities we actually had a chance to look around. In general, I’ve been to San Francisco, Chicago, New York, LA and I like all those cities, but I’m excited to go to Seattle and Portland. It’s cool to get to see more cities.
I feel like it’s just super rainy and gloomy there, though. Well, I’m from northern Norway, so…
Very true. We have a saying in Norway that’s like “Finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær” and it’s basically like a rhyme saying, “there’s no bad weather, there’s only bad clothing.” If it’s snowing, you just put your snow jacket on, and you’re fine.
If you had to live off one kinda food, what would it be? Probably Middle Eastern like falafel and stuff, or Thai.
What was your last Google search? I love asking this because I get the weirdest answers. I believe that! Hmm, you know what I think it actually was? I think it was LANY lyrics, because we’ve been getting to know the whole set so well, but, not having yet listened to all the songs on Spotify yet, we kind of sing along but have no idea what we’re actually singing. So I looked up their lyrics and I love them.
Super simple, but to the point. I love it. Very relatable, and full of emotion.
Check out photos from Dagny’s supporting set on The LANY Tour: Part 2 at NYC’s Irving Plaza below. Photos by Laura Ersoy.