Scandinavian Soul meets Marie Dahlstrøm (DK)
Although London’s summer weather was looking to conspire to dampen more than just my spirit, it at least relented as I approached the tall Danish singer in this Capital city’s busy underground. Having lived in the heart of London for the past three years, Marie Dahlstrøm knows these streets well, as she leads me to her suggested café in Hoxton.
As we engage in conversation I realise her Danish accent is quite pronounced yet completely hidden when in song, and – to my delight – I hear familiar traits of ‘London’s street slang’ appear every now and then. Right now in the UK, the media is picking up on her mesmerising jazzy, soulful talents and even the Manchester United footballer, Rio Ferdinand, cites her on Twitter as one of his favourite singers.
S Soul – It looks like you love London?
Marie – Yes, I love it here. I’ve been here on holiday about five times before and I loved it. At the time I wasn’t serious about music, but one year I just played and played and played the keyboard, and then I felt I could do a lot of things. I moved here when I was accepted on a three-year degree course in Vocal Performance and Musical Production.
When I first moved here, I was in a band while studying but unfortunately that didn’t work out. However it was a good start and I continued to write my own stuff. Then I finally felt like this is fine for me, right, so in the middle of my second year I released my EP to get some sort of reaction.
This is the six-track EP Feelings right? Songs like ‘I Want a Man’ and ‘Can we Buy a House’, I presumed were influenced by your relationships?
Yes, I had a different partner then and it was a weird period in my life. It navigates all the different emotion attached to love, all the good things and the bad things – all written in the bedroom with a few of my best friends.
Have you been surprised by the reaction?
It’s a slowly-but-surely thing. I’m getting more and more feedback, and it’s a good feeling.
And you’re unsigned?
That’s right, but I enjoy the creative freedom and artistic control I have from designing the graphics and knowing what I want with the baseline and being able to express myself through more than my vocals.
With Marie’s laptop between us she shows me the cover to her latest release ‘Search’. Did you create this cover?
Yes, it’s all by me, Photoshop for Beginners, she says laughing. I also designed a Robot yesterday – I like being creative, it’s how I relax.
At this point Marie invites me to plug my headphones into her laptop, and – like a kid in a sweet shop – I’m excitedly given exclusive access to her music library and listen to her new release ‘Search’, and a collection of songs still in production. Her voice, now unmistakable to me, is always assured, smooth and wonderfully soulful. Marie is also very social-media active and interacts with her growing Twitter followers almost daily.
It’s really very important for me and I really appreciate them, she says as she reveals a few photos sent to her with fans smiling happily and holding copies of her EP.
And are you writing a lot?
I used to believe writing was like a big thing, but now I don’t get frustrated if there’s periods of time where I’m just not inspired enough. When it’s there I grab it and when I can, I write. I enjoy it as I never know where it will take me. It sounds cliché but I can have an idea in the middle of the night and write it down. Right now I’m writing new material.
Are you making any new videos?
Yes, and my current director is 15! Yes I – 5, and he’s got really good ideas and suggestions on colour so I was like, why not? I believe in him. It should be released soon.
What inspires you?
Listening to music, books – I love reading and a lot of my own experiences.
A lot of your music is being remixed, how do you feel about that?
Yes, Kelis’ DJ Dj Nikki and Statis Beaking has remixed two of my songs and we’re going to record a video of one as well. We’ve also done a few rooftop shows together and a party release.
Did you like the House version of your song ‘I Want A Man’ (off record she’d mentioned she wasn’t big on House music)
It was nice to hear my song being used in other ways and I think it worked. For me I need to experience more of the House scene, I haven’t listened to it enough to be able to judge it probably, if you know what I mean. But I really enjoyed this version and it’s good for club DJsm this one was done by the Danish DJ Frei Le Vin .
Do you go out clubbing much?
No, but once in a while I go to Players Ball in Old Street on Saturdays. It’s one of my favourites but otherwise I’m more of a gigs person. I recently saw Jill Scott and it was the best live performance I’ve seen in my life. It was so good. D’Angelo was also amazing! There are loads of great venues here to see artists, for example the Jazz Cafe (Camden) and events like the open Mic nights at the Troy Bar in Shoreditch.
Would you say being here (in London), has made it easier for you to meet the right people?
Yeah, oh yeah. Definitely. I met my keyboard player Tinashe Muyambo at school. He’s been so great. We do a lot together and we understand each other musically. Him and my saxophonist we do everything together. I have a nine-piece band and they are happy to play my music, they are always there, on time and I’m very grateful of that. I make sure they see that I give a shit. I feel very, very privileged and thankful. It’s just amazing.
How have you found it being a white Scandinavian Soul artist in, let’s face it, a generally passionate black soul audience.
I’ve been aware of it but it’s so mixed here. I guess as long as you’re not trying to be something you’re not, people can see through that and accept the music for what it is. Music doesn’t have colour – it’s just music.
I notice on her arms a tattoo that says ‘Passion’. Curious, I ask – do you have more?
Yes, I’ve a few. Here’s one with a city that says ‘don’t get lost’ (because) no matter where you are you have to believe in yourself. I’ve several others, and for my birthday present my two good friends are paying for a new one, so I’m thinking of using the Robot I designed. I have a tattoo with LOVE on it but it keeps fading! I had it redone like three times, but I try not to read anything into that, she says with a huge smile.
So finally, how do you keep fit?
I do a program called P90x (at this point we ‘High five’ across the table as I also do this). The Yoga program is the best.
I take the opportunity to take a few pictures of Marie, and suddenly realise how long her hair is. She flicks it over her head and then sits it neatly under her favourite Carhartt hat, a souvenir from her previous part-time work. We exchange gifts (A Scandinavian Soul T-shirt from me of course) and I leave with a signed copy of Marie’s EP.
Now, how should I hold it when I take my picture?