Ane Brun

The extraordinary Ane Brun shares her favourite Nordic music in a special edition of the Nordic Playlist!

Oct 2014
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Ane is a thoroughly acclaimed musician and collaborator, and last year celebrated the 10th anniversary of her debut release Spending Time With Morgan with a superb double album entitled Songs & Rarities.

The album features a number of resurrected tracks plucked from the career of the Norwegian artist, as well as a collection of beautifully selected cover versions – an intoxicating display of the mesmerising touch that this artist can apply to whatever she feels fit.

A long time Stockholm inhabitant, Ane has spent her career pushing boundaries, opening doors and pursuing constant creative challenges, working with a number of the world’s most loved and respected musicians along the way. She’s an artist whose music is continually relevant and inspiring, and as such, there’s really no-one better to give us a glimpse into their favourite Nordic music than Ane Brun herself.

In the midst of a tour promoting her Songs & Rarities double album, Ane took some time out to talk about some of her most loved Nordic artists, as well as the inspiration behind the music on her most recent release. Press the ‘play’ button just above to hear which songs made it onto her Nordic Playlist, get tickets to one of her unmissable upcoming shows by clicking here, and scroll down for an insight into the workings of Ane’s unique musical mind…

We’re all about mixtapes here at the Nordic Playlist – so do you remember the first mixtape/playlist you ever made? What was on it and who was it for?

I made mix tapes all through my childhood and teens, it’s hard to remember specific ones, but I know I made one for a summer fling one year, when I was in my teens. I remember I put the song ‘Love Is Stronger Than Death’ by The The on it, but that’s about all I remember. But I still make playlists all the time. The last one I did was called ‘Inspiration’ which I share with Tobias Fröberg. We’re making my new album now, and use music references as a way to explain sounds and ideas.

Has anyone ever made a mixtape or a playlist for you? If so, can you remember what your favourite track on it was?!

Many times through the years. A friend of mine still makes mixtapes for me every Christmas. He makes a collection of his favourite songs from that year.

Last year marked the ten year anniversary of the release of Spending Time With Morgan, and the release of Songs and Rarities (we’re completely in love with yours and Linnea’s cover of ‘Halo’, by the way!) What inspired you to put this release together? Are you quite a nostalgic person?!

I didn’t really think I would ever make a best-of collection. But that was before the streaming services, when the album was a sacred format. Now people, including me, not only listen to albums, but make their own mixes of songs. And somehow it felt more natural now to put collections together. I also realised I enjoyed doing it. Taking the opportunity to look back, and listen to my own journey. I hadn’t listened much to my albums when they’re finished and released, and it was a pleasant experience. I felt quite proud after the process of making the Songs and Rarities albums.

How did you choose the covers that you wanted to record for the album?

The covers were recorded in different sessions for different purposes. They all have their own stories.

‘All My Tears’, ‘Orphan Girl’ and ‘Tragedy’ are recordings I did myself in my studio in Stockholm. I recorded them to prepare for an Emmylou Harris tribute show in Gothenburg a few years back. ‘From Me To You’ and ‘1 Thing’ were also recorded by myself at that same studio space.

The Beatles cover was a request from a UK radio DJ and the Amerie-cover was just me playing around one day trying to find my own way of singing one of my favourite dancefloor hits from the last decade.

When I toured in 2009 with The Diamonds (me and three female voices) promoting the Sketches album, we made it a tradition to play ‘Halo’ on the mini stereo backstage while putting on our make up, and warming up trying to sing together with Beyoncé on this beautiful melody. And one day I decided to try and make my own version. It was just an experiment and for fun, but thanks to Linnea Olsson it became this beautiful mellow version.

‘Crawfish’ is an Elvis-cover that I first performed live with Club Killers in Stockholm. I’ve played with them a few times, and they make ska/dub/reggae versions of famous and not so famous songs, and invite singers to join them. We decided that we wanted to document this particular song, and I’m glad we did! ‘Falling Down’ was recorded for a tribute album for Norwegian artist ST Thomas who died at only 31 years old in 2007.

‘Joga’ by Björk was recorded at the Polar Prize Award Ceremony in 2010. I performed the song with the Philharmonics in front of Björk herself, and I was as nervous as I’ve never been – before and after this tv-recording. But it turned out rather great, and I’m proud today that I got to honour Björk when she received her Polar Music Prize. ‘If I Had A Ribbon Bow’ was recorded by my friend and producer Tobias Froberg for a tribute to Odetta album Beautiful Star from 2009. ‘It’s Alright’ is by one of my all time favourite bands, Eurythmics, I recorded it for the Amnesty International & Buffetlibre’s project PEACE.

‘Fly on the Windscreen’ is a song by Depeche Mode, and I got to record a new vocal interpretation of it. The production is by Vince Clark himself. The song is part of the promotional campaign for Tonya Hurley’s book ‘The Blessed’. I was on tour in the US at the time this job was offered to me, so the vocals are recorded on the road, in a highway motel somewhere in the US. We used the closets as a song-booth, and the bedlinen as sound isolation. The Bob Dylan song ‘She Belongs To Me’ was recorded for the tribute album Subterranean Homesick Blues: A Tribute to Bob Dylan’s ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ (2010). ‘Neighbourhood #1 Tunnels’ by Arcade Fire was for the Voice Project 2012. And ‘Feeling Good’ was just me playing around with this classic tune, as I had just discovered that it has amazing lyrics.

What do you think is the biggest artistic lesson that you’ve learnt over the past 10 years?

To always challenge myself and look for new sounds, both in my voice and instrumentation and arrangements.

And I’ve also learned the best way of performing music is to find the perfect combination of playfulness and at the same time taking my own music very seriously.

You’re currently on tour playing songs from your Songs & Rarities release – what should we expect from these shows? (we’ve seen some gorgeous pictures of your lights so far!)

It’s a solo acoustic show, I’m on stage alone for most of the songs. My support act Alice Boman appears on stage with me a couple of times. I’m playing songs from my whole career, I’ve even brought out a couple of really old tunes, that I haven’t performed live in a long while. I’ve chosen a few covers for this tour, and there is a surprise element in the show!

What do you enjoy the most about being able to revisit and reimagine your work?

I enjoy to make these songs stay interesting to me and my fans. My songs are like good friends, I want to keep them in my life. And if I don’t play them, “hang out with them” I lose touch with them. You can say that this tour has been a great reunion.

The Nordic Playlist is all about discovering music from the Nordic countries through recommendation – so can you tell us about a Nordic artist/album that is particularly special, memorable, or has been particularly influential on you?

There is a lot of Nordic music that has been influential to me. I believe that I’ve been inspired by such a wide range of music from Grieg and Harald Sæverud, Jan Garbarek, Jan Johansson, Sidsel Endresen, Bugge Wesseltoft, Radka Tonef, Björk, Stina Nordenstam, Atomic, my own mother Inger Johanne and so much more.

Can you tell us about the tracks that you’ve selected for your playlist today? Why did you select them/what you like about them?

Linnea Olsson ‘Breaking and Shaking’ – We’ve toured together since 2006, and I’ve watch Linnea’s music develop through these years. I knew the first time I heard her own music that she was going to make a lot of music lovers happy. This song is taken from her second album that’s coming out this month, and it’s filled with catchy tunes like this one. I think she makes such great pop tunes combined with her virtous cello playing and vocals.

Alice Boman ‘Over’ – Alice is a new artist, and she is my traveling companion and support act on the Songs and Rarities Tour. She makes beautiful, heartfelt melodies, and her voice is so touching. It’s impossible not to be moved by her vulnerable and honest songs. I’m looking forward to lots more music from her in the future.

Emilie Nicolas – I really enjoy this debut album, great production, amazing vocals and songs.

Mari Kvien Brunvoll – My own sister makes heartfelt experimental music, she uses her voice to make loops and rhythms, and creates her own atmosphere.

Mirel Wagner – I just discovered her, I never really get enough of these kind of records, just the voice and the guitar. And I like the sound of this tune.

Femme en Fourrure – I fell for their sound. Remind me a bit of The Knife.

Tomas Barfod ft. Nina Kinert – This coop has come up with some amazing pop-songs!

Death Has No Dominion – Harvest. I like this sound, with the ukulele, the voices and the interesting melodies.

Teitur – I was just thinking. My old friend Teitur is an amazing songwriter, and this old treasure is one of my all time favourite songs of this genre.

Sugarcubes – Birthday. I love Björk, and I could pick most of her songs for this list, but I also love this energy boost by Sugarcubes!

And finally, what does the rest of the year hold for you? What are you most looking forward to, and what can you reveal of your plans?

This year is dedicated to the Songs and Rarities Solo Acoustic Tour but also to finishing my new album that is coming out next year! We’ve come quite far, and I’m going to work on it between shows, and on the tour bus. I hope to have a first single out in the beginning of next year. I’m feeling very excited to release new material, as it’s been a while since I did that.

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