Earlier this week, we featured a track by an exciting new Nordic talent named Evelyn Mali. It was a bracing combination of Norwegian folk music with an electronically created backdrop that pushes those traditional sounds into the modern age.
Today, we are happy to present the world premiere of Evelyn Mali’s new video! It’s a lovely clip for the song “Isav” that rightfully focuses on the singer and matching the gorgeous wintry feel of the music with shots of snow-covered mountains that will take your breath away.
If that weren’t enough, Ms. Mali also took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with us about the formation of her musical voice, her use of Mosjødialekt – the language specific to the region of Norway where she grew up, and her plans for the rest of the year. Once you’re done bathing in the beauty of this video, check out our conversation below.
What can you tell us about Mosjøen, the village where you grew up? What was it like for you growing up there?
Mosjøen is a small town in northern Norway, right in the middle of the country actually! When I was young we moved around a lot, due to my father working for the military. And thinking back I’m really glad I got to spend most of my childhood growing up in Mosjøen. It was such a safe and happy place! If you forgot to lock your car, or house for that matter, it wasn’t a big deal!
I remember the streets were always full of children riding bicycles or jumping rope. I could simply walk out my front door and I had someone to play with. And right outside my house we had a little park we called “The Secret Park” (although it was very visible to everyone and not a secret at all) with, what it seemed like back then, huge trees I loved to climb. And the location was very convenient because if I climbed too high I could just shout for my parents to come and save me!
My love for nature, which has influenced my music a lot, is a result of growing up in Mosjøen. We have all kinds of landscapes nearby, from the open ocean to bare mountains and deep forests. I have always felt privileged having all this beauty around me
In your bio, it talks about the influence of your parents inspiring you to play music. Did that come very naturally and easy to you or did it take some work?
I grew up with instruments all around me and music coming from every corner of the house. And my brother and I was always encouraged to follow our creativity. Even when it ment me singing Britney Spears at the top of my lungs for four hours straight it the backseat of our car. I never actually thought about getting into music because it had always been a part of me.
When did you find your own voice and your own direction as a musician and singer? Was that, again, something that came organically or did you have a moment of epiphany?
My brother convinced me to apply for music school, which I was very apprehensive about because that meant I had to move my songs out of my bedroom and into the world, and that was a very scary thought for my 15-year-old self. But he completed his mission, and I am very thankful for that today! There I got to meet others like me, fresh from their bedrooms with backpacks full of music. I got voice and guitar lessons, sang in a choir, and I got to perform my songs and learn how to connect with an audience. And all of that and so much more, gradually resulted in a much stronger voice and much higher confidence and I really started to believe that music was what I was supposed to do.
And that’s where I had sort of an epiphany. All around me were heavy metal guitarists and voices with great range, and I remember going from feeling very small with my acoustic guitar playing my Norwegian folk songs, to thinking “You know what? The world needs more acoustic guitars and Norwegian folk songs!” So the epiphany was not necessarily that I found my voice and style, because it had always been there. For me, it was believing in myself.
Mosjøen has its own particular dialect. How is it different than the rest of Norway?
It is very, very different! It is kind of funny because people from the southern region of Norway tend to understand those who live way further north better than I do. But here in the middle where I live, it is a black hole of weird words and phrases nobody understands. There have been very many funny (and not so funny) misunderstandings between myself and other people from other parts of the country.
Your music, as we talked about in our write up, blends together traditional sounding elements with more modern production techniques. How did the electronic beats and production find its way into your work?
I had recorded a demo here in Mosjøen with a friend that was studying music production. And suddenly one day, many years later, he called me up to tell me that he had started a studio in Trondheim with some other guys, and that he had experimented with the vocal tracks to one of the songs we had recorded. He sent over what was then the beginning of the song we now know as “Ishav”, and I fell completely in love with the musical landscape BigHall Audio had created. I have always loved electronic music, but I had never dreamed that my weird dialect and acoustic songs could fit into that, but with a little magic by my producers, it did!
Can you talk about singing songs in Mosjødialekt rather than in English? Why is that important to you?
I started out writing songs in English, but it was when I started to experiment with Norwegian lyrics, I felt I started to find my place. I remember it being very difficult because Norwegian vocabulary is so small compared to English, but it was a very fun challenge to overcome! I find it much more intimate and vulnerable telling stories with my own language. To write in any other dialect would feel really unnatural. My dialect is part of my identity and I want to incorporate all aspects of me into my music.
You’ve picked up a lot of radio airplay and interest in your music in Norway. Are you getting some sense that the outside world is starting to pay attention?
Yes, as an unsigned artist I have been very fortunate getting so much airplay on national radio! There is a lot of exciting things happening around me and yes, it seems like the world has some interest in northern Norwegian folk songs wrapped in electronic sounds, which makes me really happy! It is very scary sending your children out into the world for others to judge. I wrote “Ishav” when i was 15-16 so we have some history together, but seeing the plays increasing every day is so rewarding.
I have found so much comfort in music, and it has been my best friend all of my life. And if someone can relate to my stories and find comfort and company in my words, that is the most rewarding thing in the world.
What are your plans for the rest of 2016?
I am releasing a single pretty soon, and then an EP later this year, which I am very exited about. And I have some concerts coming up, and that is probably what I am looking most forward to! There is nothing that beats the feeling of playing live and connecting with the audience. I am also featuring and writing with other artists. I think it is important to experiment with music, it is the best way to learn and it is so inspiring! So yeah, I think 2016 is going to be a very prominent year for me musically and I can’t wait to see where this journey brings me!