Dagny Interview: On Her New Music, Her Inspirations and London
Words by Juan Poggioli
After seemingly appearing out of nowhere in 2016 with her single ‘Backbeat’, Dagny cemented herself as a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary pop music landscape. After the single was picked up by Beats 1’s Zane Lowe as his Record of the Week, and also being added to Spotify’s New Music Friday, the song has been listened to over 33 million times there. Since then, she has released the Ultraviolet EP, including the BØRNS collaboration: "Fool’s Gold", and has also released three singles, "Wearing Nothing", a cover of Andrea True’s "More, More, More" and the brilliant "Love You Like That".
Fortunately, I had the chance of seating down with Dagny and discussing her future endeavours, her inspirations, her aspiration of releasing an album and what is was like moving to London at 21 last week. Keep reading to find out what we got up to.
How are you doing?
Good, I just came back from LA, very late last night then I slept for about an hour because I had so much adrenaline so today I am a little bit sleepy, but I just had a video shoot this morning and it was really fun, so overall, I think it’s a seven out of ten. How are you?
I’m really good, really excited, I’m a big fan of yours, honestly, I love everything you’ve released thus far, like your single Love You Like That and Ultraviolet EP. So, it’s incredible for me that I get to interview you.
Aww that is so nice, you’ve made my day.
About the music video you filmed this morning, what was it for? "Love You Like That"?
Can we expect a music video for "Love You Like That"? I feel really bad to be the one to have to tell you this but unfortunately… no. I wanted to do it so bad but it was kind of a bit weird release, it was a very slow builder, it took on its own life a little bit. I think that people connected with it more than we expected. By the time we had to shoot the video it had just been too long. But I will have to make up for it with the next single.
So, does this mean we can expect new music soon?
Yes, that’s true.
What’s your favourite song right now?
I’m obsessed with this girl called Phoebe Bridgers. I think I’ve made it very clear in my interviews that I am a huge Ryan Adams fan, and it was getting kind of old telling everyone that I felt that I had to come up with something new. So, I found this girl, and funnily enough, he produces for her. Phoebe Bridgers, she’s LA based, I think she’s pretty new, but she’s got an album called Stranger in The Alps, and there’s a song on there called "Motion Sickness". It’s like my latest – you know when you find a song that you just want to listen to one hundred times on repeat?
Yeah, I know.
Yeah, I have that with her. You have to check her out.
Last year, I had the chance of seeing you at BST in Hyde Park, I thought you were incredible –
[She laughs.] Thank you!
There, you performed a song called Bullet. Any chance of us getting a studio version any time soon?
Definitely. Bullet is still under production and will hopefully be released soon! I’m super happy that so many people are interested in this song and I want nothing more than to give the fans what they want.
You recently went on tour with LANY, what was that like?
It was the most amazing time. I think it was my favourite time ever. It was my first bus tour, and I’ve been dreaming of going on a bus tour. I’m one of those weird musicians that just wants to live on a bus for the next five years. Everyone is normally so happy when they come off tour, but I am like “no, I can’t believe it’s over”.
LANY is a great band, and they have really dedicated fans, so for us, it was a really good fit, musically and in the group we all had a really good bubble. Their fans are so incredibly committed, we were the support, but we were playing to full rooms, every night. Their fans have very much the attitude of like, if LANY loves you, then we love you too. It just felt like for us and for me, that it was a really good tour and I really learned a lot. It kind of opened a whole new market with America. Now, we’re going back in a month to do our first headline tour and I don’t think that would have ever happened if it wasn’t for the LANY tour. It was just amazing, and I got to see America and find new favourite American cities. It was really great.
What’s your favourite part of making music? Is it writing the music? Is it performing?
I would say it’s probably touring. It’s always been. I mean, I was playing shows long before I released any music, and I think for me, performing and going on tour and getting to play the music and meet people has always been the biggest motivation for why I want to be a musician.
Originally, I wanted to be a songwriter, before I wanted to be a performer. So I think there’s a definite like – I mean, the passion for song writing, I love songwriting and you know, you make something that you get that feeling in your stomach that this is something special. But I think I just become so incredibly self-critical when I’m writing. Like, I can do it for a certain amount of time and then I feel like I need to change focus for a little bit just to kind of give myself a break. With touring, even though I’m still so self-critical with that, I still manage to get that release every time I go on stage, it just gives me so much energy. So I think I would say touring. I love them both in different ways.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
That’s a good question. I’m one of those people that have no idea. It’s not because I don’t have dreams and ambitions, it’s just because I’ve never a long-term planer. That’s one of the reasons why I have ended up where I am because I’ve just always jumped on the opportunities that have come my way and have always been open for things to happen. That being said, I want to keep touring and I want to release a bloody album.
If I haven’t had an album within five years, you can tell me to quit. And then, for the first time in my life, I actually found a place where I want to live – well, not the first time in my life – but I am trying to find a flat in Oslo. I haven’t actually lived anywhere for the last year. I let my flat in London go, and I’ve been living in a suitcase ever since. Now, I feel like I’m ready for a base to be able to come home to in between all the traveling and stuff.
So, I just want to keep growing with the music and keep exploring and going on (tours), I’ve never been to Australia, I would love to go there. But other than that, I think… I’m not entirely sure actually. But I am really excited to see where I’ll be.
Because – I mean now I should come up with some brilliant answer for why Oslo, but I think really what it was because I moved to London when I was 21 and at the time I was from a small town and I really needed to get away, and it was so fun to live in a city where I didn’t know anyone, I never ran into anyone that I knew, everything was big and open and you know, it was perfect for me back then and it’s changed me so much.
But I think now, you know, I must be traveling at least 250 days a year if not more, and constantly working, to be able to go to the pub, or a restaurant or to the cinema, I just meet people I know and be able to just walk around the corner and be at my friend’s house, it really is a privilege. It’s something that has suddenly become really important, I have so little time to see my friends and to just do other things apart from music, so when I’m then at home, I don’t want to be sitting on the train for two, three hours a day. Like it’s not just that simple, I really love London. But it just felt like I kind of needed something smaller again.
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.
And it’s weird because I’m Norwegian. But for the last six years, I’ve barely spoken any Norwegian. So, it’s actually quite nice to come home and just get to know my Norwegian side again once more. It sounds weird, but it’s kind of true.
And it’s funny, when you live in a city like London, actually you become really – well, at least I did because I had to live a little bit outside – I became really bad at making the most of London. So, I kind of feel like going there every second month or something, I’ll probably make more out of the city like I will do explore again. And do all those things that I never really had time for when I was living there. It’s a cool city though, I love London.
Speaking of London, do you have any touring plans headlining London or the UK?
Yes, actually. But I don’t know if I can tell you anything about that yet. Yeah, no, my sister is giving me the no no finger! But I can tell you that it is this year. It will probably be my biggest headline show in London to date. But, it’s still being planned. It’s funny you ask that, I feel like for a period of time I was playing so many shows in London but now, it’s been so long. I think the show you saw me, that was probably my last one.
Probably. Because after seeing you live, I made sure to keep on track, so if you came back for a show again, I would go and see you.
That’s very nice, I’m happy to hear that!
And trust me, whenever someone asks me who’s the next big thing in pop, I always tell them it’s Dagny.
I should hire you, shouldn’t I?
You’re more than welcome to.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the industry, who would it be?
If I could? Or if I’m going to?
Both, it can be something that’s definitely going to happen, or something impossible.
If I ever got to do something with Robyn, that would be cool. Like, super badass. I’ve never answered that before, my first thought always goes to like – I feel like a lot of people would answer something like a big American hip-hopper. I’ve always said Ryan Adams, but I feel that, if he hasn’t picked it up yet, then it’s never going to happen. He actually followed me on Instagram for two weeks, and I had to go and check every day to see if he was still following me and I saw that he had downgraded from how many people he followed, and I just knew straight away that it was over. But yeah, recently, probably to every other LA person, I’ve been referencing Robyn in my sessions lately. I think she makes a really cool mix of like emotional happy pop songs, but they’re then put into a production that makes it kind of cool and vibe-y, and yeah, I’ve just been really inspired by that recently.
What’s your favourite Robyn song? Just out of curiosity.
I think it’s probably "Call Your Girlfriend" [sings a few bars of the song]. Yeah, that’s a good one. And I also remember growing up in the 90s and listening to "Be Mine"! which must have been one of her first songs. I still know it word by word.
How was it like collaborating with BØRNS in your song "Fool’s Gold"?
That was probably better in people’s imagination than it was in real life. Not because I didn’t love it, but because I never met him. That being said, if you had asked me two years ago, right before "Fool’s Gold", who would you like to collaborate with? Like, I was massively in love with his music, and I used to listen to him on repeat, but not just one song or two songs, but his entire album and I was just so fascinated with his song writing and voice, and lyrics and everything. It was very strange that it happened, because I was in the studio, writing with his producer and he just randomly came in the next day and told me he played [BØRNS] our song, and he was like “Wow, I really love this. I want to be part of it.”
Originally, it was meant for me to sing it, but when I heard his voice, I was just so thrilled, proud to have it on my record. Occasionally, on sessions I will be like, “How would BORNS do this?”. Yeah, that was really exciting.
I mean, I hope that I get to do a lot more of those features, I think it’s great to do. I’ve actually just done a feature with an amazing Norwegian DJ trio [out now], I really haven’t done many features, I haven’t really wanted to and not for any other reason, I’m just very particular with what songs I connect with and not, but I think it’s exciting, this whole collaboration, you know what I mean, in the music world where a lot of people are collaborating, especially producers, DJs and artist. I would love to see even more or would love to do even more of this kind of artists with artists, maybe even more of girl artists with girl artists, just like, there’s so many great artists. Especially, I follow a lot of female pop acts at the moment and it would just be so cool to like, do more, with maybe another pop female act. So, whenever I make my record, maybe that’s my goal.
Who would you work with if you could make like female pop group?
I feel like a Scandinavian, like an awesome pop group. With me, Astrid S, Sigrid, MØ, and like Tove Styrke. That could be very badass. But, I really hope you like these new songs that are coming soon.
Yeah, I’m really excited, especially after you mentioned Robyn as one of your inspirations.
I think you’ll be able to tell with the release we’re doing in the beginning of June. This next one [out on April 27th] is a bit different, but there’s one coming in June that I’m really excited about.
Make sure to check out Dagny's latest single "Drink About" with Seeb on Spotify now.