The Exploration of A Rising Pop Star
Written by: Scott T. Sterling | Photography by: Andrea LaBarge Mills
It’s been said more than once that art is often derived from great pain. In the case of emerging Denmark pop artist Oh Land, said declaration is harrowingly real.
“I always sang and made music secretly, but growing up with two musicians for parents — my mom was an opera singer and my dad is an organist — I felt like making music was such an obvious choice,” says Nanna Øland Fabricius, better known as the singer/songwriter behind Oh Land’s electro-soaked tunes from London. “Plus, I felt kind of intimidated by how great they were at it, so I wanted to dance instead. It wasn’t until my injury that I started making music in my bedroom. When I finally played it for my friends and family, they were like ‘why haven’t you done this before?’”
That injury was a slipped disc and spinal fracture suffered while training as a ballet dancer that ended her then-budding dance career; physical damage that required two years to repair.
“You start so young as a dancer and push your body so hard,” she says. “It was very tough. I really couldn’t do much. Music was the thing that allowed me to still dance and be alive without moving my body. It became my savior in a way.”
After releasing her debut album, Fauna, on indie label Fake Diamonds, Oh Land was invited to perform at last year’s South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. An executive from Epic Records caught her show and quickly signed her to the label.
“After that experience, I knew I wanted to go to America,” she says. “I chose Brooklyn for a few reasons. I like being so close to Manhattan, but not actually in it. That way I can maintain my romantic vision of the city.”
The resulting album, Perfection, is an atmospheric swirl of quirky, introspective electro-pop with an engaging dance floor pulse on songs like “Sun of a Gun” and “We Turn it Up,” drawing comparisons to contemporaries Lykke Li and Little Boots.
While in America, she also spent time in Miami, where she worked with enigmatic producer and N.E.R.D. frontman Pharrell Williams on a clutch of songs.
“It was amazing. N.E.R.D.’s In Search Of is one of the albums I’ve listened to the most in my life,” she gushes about the songs that are slated for release later on this year. “It was great to work with someone who can hit a bucket and make it sound incredible. He’s such a master of beats. The songs are still very Oh Land, but you can hear his influence.”
Given Oh Land’s highly visual nature and consistently stylish profile, the fashion world has been quick to embrace her.
“It was never a conscious choice. I love expressing myself through clothes, art, painting — I find all of the visual arts very inspiring,” she says. “My live show is extremely theatrical. I have drum pads that trigger electronic sounds as well as images projected onto balloons. It’s not shocking or crazy Lady Gaga time,” she adds laughing, “but it’s a lot of fun.”
Look and listen @ ohlandmusic.com