CREATIVE PROCESS // Siv Jakobsen on ‘The Nordic Mellow’

Reaching a pivotal marker in her career, Siv Jakobsen released debut full-length ‘The Nordic Mellow’ in August 2017. The glacial collection of ten takes in moments of exquisite voice, narration of great intimacy, and forever emotive evocation. The stories aren’t tales of the imagined, they are photo-frames of the eternally alive – once lived, can’t be unlearnt; once practised, will never weaken.

Not unlike the bond we share with our native homes – the country locales, the big cities, the suburban hamlets – and a factor which has influenced the shaping of Siv Jakobsen’s new album. This intrinsic tie to Norway helped focus many creative ideas and pathways, whilst not resigned as the absolute influence to Jakobsen’s music, her lineage and surroundings do, of course, inspire and continue to offer stimulus when called upon.

In a guest article, Siv Jakobsen details the way in which the sense of ‘Nordic’ has influenced the music and lyrics of her debut album ‘The Nordic Mellow’.

“I spent months and months pondering over the title of my new album. I had ten songs that needed to fit under the hat of one album-title, and I was struggling a bit (a lot) to find a title that I felt spoke for all the songs. I spent hours and hours sifting through the lyrics on the record, trying to find a phrase that would fit all of the songs, and I came out short.

It’s not that the lyrics on the record couldn’t have worked as a title, but I feel very strongly that the title of any record of mine should reflect the entirety of the album – the mood, the lyrics, the sonic landscape and so on. As the songs for this release are written over a two year period, some songs differ from others in lyrical content and story – and I felt taking a lyric from one song wouldn’t necessarily accurately represent all the others.

So, insert “The Nordic Mellow.” Having named my label the very same thing a few years back, I’ve had it lingering in the back of my mind as a potential song title, but have never gotten around to using it as a lyric. I came up with the phrase itself after having both tried to find a way to accurately describe my music in just a few words, as well as being met with many a description of my music via blogs and media as “Nordic” and “melancholic.” So, perhaps not knowing where it all began (with someone else describing my music as Nordic and melancholic, or me doing so), I was using the phrase “Nordic melancholia” quite a lot when met with “What does your music sound like” or “Describe your music.” So, what better phrase to use to describe my debut album, than the very phrase I use to describe my sound, or my genre if you will?

You are perhaps wondering why I even consider my sound “Nordic.” I guess for me it’s quite simple – I feel very connected to my home (Norway) – both our nature and our culture, and I feel very Nordic. I grew up hearing and singing traditional Norwegian music and hymns, and thus the foundation of my musicality and my “ear” is a reflection of that. This is a realisation I was met with when studying songwriting in college in the US, and being told repeatedly that my musical choices were generally “different” sonically and rhythmically to that of an American writer. It’s perhaps something I wouldn’t have known or thought about hadn’t it been for people telling me this when I first started out writing – and I think I embraced my “different sound” even more than I would have if it had stayed a subconscious thing.

Norwegian nature is vast and beautiful and quite bold in its ways. In the summer there is a lot of colour, whilst in the winter, at times everything feels white and eerie and cold. I think it’s especially the winter landscapes that inspire me in my music – strangely enough I don’t actually write a lot of songs in the winter, but the winter is what I am drawn to in my writings, it’s what I imagine when I am writing music. It is also what I imagine visually as a backdrop to my music. Don’t get me wrong, I think my music can suit any season – but I feel it sort of mirrors a wintery, quiet and eerie landscape and mind-frame, from which I’ve been drawing when imagining the songs.

Don’t get me wrong The Nordic Mellow is in no way exclusively inspired by Norwegian nature or a Nordic way of life. However, my musical perspective is heavily influenced by my own nature and culture, and thus I feel that “Nordic melancholia” is a decent attempt at describing the musical landscape I find myself inhabiting. I do hope you like it.”Siv Jakobsen

Siv Jakobsen’s debut album ‘The Nordic Mellow’ is out now – and is available to purchase / stream here.

Siv Jakobsen is touring throughout October taking in the following dates across the UK:

WED 4 OCTOBER | Henry Tudor House, Shrewsbury TICKETS
THU 5 OCTOBER | The Lantern, Colston Hall 2, Bristol TICKETS
FRI 6 OCTOBER | Band on the Wall, Manchester TICKETS
SAT 7 OCTOBER | Buyers Club, Liverpool TICKETS
SUN 8 OCTOBER | Brudenell Social Club, Leeds TICKETS
TUE 10 OCTOBER | Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), Glasgow TICKETS
WED 11 OCTOBER | The Cluny 2, Newcastle Upon Tyne TICKETS
THU 12 OCTOBER | Cecil Sharp House, London TICKETS

Photo Credit: Jørgen Nordby

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Charlotte Holroyd
Editor, Creator and Founder of Bitter Sweet Symphonies. A lover of music and cinema, who's constantly attending gigs and in search of a great experience.

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