By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Norwegian artist Sturle Dagsland recently dropped his self-titled debut album, so far highlighted by the single “Kusunagi,” with an animated music video directed by award-winning animator Eirik Heggen, who took inspirations from surrealist art, magical environments and folk tales.
A roaming musician, Dagsland has toured frequently around the world with his band, from Shanghai to New York. He has inspired audiences everywhere with his unique and imaginative musical style.
The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with Dagsland about his album and more.
Music Bugle – How would you describe your newest music?
Sturle Dagsland – Our music is expressive, dynamic, progressive and adventurous. We use a wide array of instruments from all over the world, mixed with electronics, modern soundscapes and a lot of different vocal techniques. Our music usually creates a broad spectrum of feelings and emotions amongst our listener and it also attracts a quite diverse crowd.
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
Sturle Dagsland – My favorite thing about Stavanger is that the air is clean, the water is amazing and I can go swimming in fjords, canoeing through waterfalls and meet friendly seals on a regular basis. There is also a rich music heritage in Norway and some of the different types of folk music traditions are really wonderful. The closing track of the album – “Noaidi” – is named after the Shaman of the Sami people. The Sami people are the indigenous people of Northern Europe and we have Sami roots from our mother’s side. The Noaidi is a communicator with the spirit world and with his drum, he could travel and bring a person that was trapped in another realm back to our world. The song is not necessarily influenced by Sami music, but it’s influenced by the mythical figure of the shaman from the Sami culture and I also use some joking on the song – the traditional Sami vocal techniques.
Music Bugle – Did the music video for “Kusanagi” come out the way you hoped?
Sturle Dagsland – For the music video, I worked with the award-winning Norwegian animator Eirik Heggen. The themes and visual style of Heggen’s films draws inspiration from folk tales, surrealism and ancient art from around the world. He has a very distinct style and a really rich visual imagery, which made him a perfect collaborator on “Kusanagi.” I had some ideas for what I wanted, but he expanded and evolved it into something else entirely. Watching the film now is like peeking into the loophole of a wonderful fantasy world, filled with hundreds of unique creatures and I’m really happy with the results.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately?
Sturle Dagsland – My brother and bandmate Sjur’s dog “Mille Von Våffilåff” is currently on a diet, so I’m not allowed to give her any treats when we meet each other.
Music Bugle – What inspires you the most?
Sturle Dagsland – Making music is a flexible multifaceted formula and the way you cook it and what ingredients you put in can differ from song to song. We are trying to be in a constant process of creating music, rather than waiting to absorb inspiration from somewhere else, but inspiration may come from anywhere, both from music, nature, dreams, art, life and the subconscious.
Music Bugle – Of all the shows you’ve played, which ones stand out the most?
Sturle Dagsland – We tour a lot and have performed at a variety of different festivals, from Big Pop Festival in Brazil to Philharmonic Halls in Russia, so it’s difficult to pick just one show, but during one of our tours in Greenland, we performed in -22 Fahrenheit. This is the first time I had to wear triple underwear just to stay warm and the first time our cellist Carl Tomas wore any underwear at all.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Sturle Dagsland – COVID-19 has had a tremendous effect on every country in the world, but I’m lucky to live in Norway, which has been better off than most places.We have had around 90 concerts cancelled or postponed this year all over Europe, Asia, Latin-America and the US, but after our neighbor started waking me up every morning with a two-hour bass guitar rehearsal-session of the “Seinfeld” theme song, I learned that it can always get worse.
Music Bugle – What do you hope for in 2021?
Sturle Dagsland – I really hope that we can get back to touring at full capacity at some point in 2021.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need to escape?
Sturle Dagsland – I go climbing, swimming, rollerblading, yoyo-ing or just wrap up a portable recording-rig and travel somewhere else, which is how many of the songs on the album were created. Most of the album has been recorded in our studio in Stavanger, but we have also been composing and recording at a lot of different locations, such as high mountain tops in Norway, abandoned industrial areas in Russia, legendary soviet Marine ships in Eastern-Europe, Water reservoirs in Germany, a lighthouse on a remote island in the North-Sea and singing with “wolves” in dogsledding villages in the outbacks of Greenland.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Sturle Dagsland – My brother and bandmate Sjur is a fantastic chef and an amazing “Nunchakuka” – nunchuck fighter.