Back for its second season, Melody A.M. - the Nordic Music Podcast - celebrates music and musicians from Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the Faroe Islands.
Through interviews with a variety of (mostly) musical guests, the podcast delves into life in the Nordic region and explores what inspires some of the best acts hailing from these countries.
This episode brings Melody A.M.’s attention back to Norway with singer-songwriter, Ane Brun, who this year celebrates a very special anniversary: 20 years since the release of her debut album, Spending Time With Morgan.
To mark the occasion, Brun has recently released a new retrospective record, Songs 2013-2023, highlighting peak points from her studio recordings in the past 10 years, as well as another collection, Portrayals, which collates some of the best-loved cover versions she has recorded, including her portrayal of Beyonce’s 'Halo', with Linnea Olsson, which has had over 65m streams on Spotify alone, to date.
Spending Time With Morgan came out when Ane Brun was 27 year-old. After flitting and flatting between her Norwegian hometown of Molde and Barcelona, Oslo and Bergen for several years, she eventually settled in Sweden. The album was recorded in Stockholm and Uppsala and its recording was financed through Brun's salary from working at a record store, academic scholarships she’d been awarded and loans from friends who wanted to help her out in return for a future percentage of sales.
When the album was done, Brun really loved the songs and the recordings. She presented a sampler of the album to 4 or 5 record companies and also to some other music business people, but their response was slow and unenthusiastic and she was so hungry to get started, that she decided that it was better to release the music herself, instead of waiting around for anyone else’s permission to do so.
In the 20 years since that album’s release, Brun has made her mark not only on the Nordic music scene but all over the world, with an initially folky twist on pop and, in more recent years, an underlying rhythmic and electronic feel to the production.
Speaking with Melody A.M. from her studio, Brun reflects on her two decades in the music business, she shares some details about her next studio album, which she is hopeful to release in 2024, and we also explore the impact of A.I. on musicians and creativity.
Melody A.M. is sticking around in Sweden for this latest episode, with guests Anna Levander and Leopold Nilsson, who make up the Swedish duo, Dolce.
Part of the uniqueness of Dolce’s sound is perhaps due to the fact that the production and arrangements hark back to much older Swedish folk music. The more decisive element at play, though, is Anna Levander’s voice. It’s something else. It’s deep, it’s warm, it grabs you and it makes you pay attention. Underpinning that voice are melodies that are surprising and exciting to come back to.
Anna and Leopold are originally from Umeå, a university town in the east of Sweden, and they started releasing music 9 years ago, when their first song, ‘Hand i hand’, came out ahead of their debut EP’s release the following year. They’ve had two, much praised, albums after that and are in the process of finishing off work on their third (due in 2024).
The Dolce playlist on the Melody A.M. website includes our recommended highlights from the band’s discography and Anna and Leopold have also generously shared with an exclusive early demo version of a song called ‘Skrapsår’, or ‘Scrapes’, with us, which you can hear during our interview. which is included on their forthcoming new album. A studio version of ‘Skrapsår’ will be included on the band's next record.
We’re heading back to Sweden on this, the 7th episode of season 2, with a musician who is so good and so charming that we can’t wait for you to hear our interview.
Alma Caroline Cederlöf, who goes by the nom de plume GRANT, is already a big, big name in her homeland - so much so that her latest album, Truth & Consequences, was recently shortlisted for the Alternative Pop of the Year award at this year’s Swedish Grammis.
A Stockholmer through and through, the majority of GRANT’s music has come out in English and her command of the language results not only in great lyrics, which shy away from cliches and offer an interesting twist on both familiar and less commonplace themes, but also some pretty fantastic song titles. She has that tricky-to-define star power that rests on a trio of strengths: incredible voice, charisma by the bucketload and a real knack for songwriting.
In our interview, Caroline tells Doron about the very 2023 way she found out about her Grammis nomination, she very kindly explains the whys and wherefores of 3 quintessentially Swedish (and rather popular) music shows on Swedish television – all of which she has previously performed on - and we talk about her joining the band MOR last year and how they came to record a rather impactful cover version of David Guetta and Kelly Rowland’s monster hit, "When Love Takes Over".
As usual, for every guest artist on the podcast we have a special playlist featuring some of their best tracks. On the GRANT playlist on our website - at www.melodyam.com/grant - you can listen to highlights from her discography, including that fantastic cover version and other collaborations with MOR.
EUROVISION SPECIAL - THE NORDICS AT EUROVISION
The Eurovision Song Contest has been held annually since 1956 – with the only exception being 2020, when the competition had to be cancelled due to coronavirus. It has been the longest-running yearly international music competition on TV and one of the world's longest-running TV programmes overall. Since 1956 there have been 14 victories by Nordic countries at Eurovision.
The biggest success story in terms of wins at Eurovision, among the Nordic five who take part, belongs to Sweden. To date, Sweden has won 7 times, most recently in May 2023 when Loreen's "Tattoo" pipped Finland to the post. There were three Nordic countries in the top 5, with Finland coming 2nd and Norway coming 5th.
Despite sending some 10/10 bangers to the contest, Iceland is the only Nordic country to remain without a win, yet.
To geek out about the role that the Nordics have at Eurovision, Doron is joined for this special episode by the host of the Official Eurovision Podcast and former BBC radio 1 presenter, Steve Holden. Steve is not only a fellow long-time Eurovision fan but has also got to meet and interview many Eurovision legends over the years, so it’s been great to hear some of his insights and find out about important issues such as which acts he’d like to see return to Eurovision in the future and which historic obscure national selection entries he thinks were robbed.
On our website at www.melodyam.com/eurovision you will find a playlist with suggested Eurovision-related tracks from years gone by including some of the songs that didn’t quite manage to make it to Eurovision but perhaps should have.
Norwegian trio, KEiiNO, has been making Northern Lights-style waves in the world of pop since winning Norway’s pre-Eurovision selection competition, Melodi Grand Prix, and subsequently representing their country at the song contest in 2019.
Fred Buljo, Alexandra Rotan and Tom Hugo wowed audiences around the world with their entry, "Spirit in the Sky”, and the song has brought them a loyal fanbase, which – in turn – means that they’ve had plenty of exciting opportunities to tour around the world.
KEiiNO’s sound, which mixes pop, dance and traditional Sámi joiking really stands out so that, even when they are covering other people’s songs, their distinct approach to crafting an impactful pop production is instantly recognisable (A-Ha’s “The Sun Always Shines On TV”, being a prime example). Their debut album, OKTA, offers no dull moments.
Building on their Eurovision success, KEiiNO returned to Melodi Grand Prix in 2021 with the song "Monument". The group delivered an electrifying performance that earned them second place in the competition, solidifying their status as one of Norway's most beloved musical acts.
The group's dedication to highlighting Sámi culture through their music is an important part of their identity and, in our interview, it emerges that some KEiiNO fans have been learning Sámi after discovering the language and its cultural background through the music.
Fred, Alexandra and Tom generously took time away from recording new music whilst in a remote cabin in Trysil, in the East Norway, to chat to Melody A.M. They talk about how they create music together, the importance of taking a jacuzzi break, the superiority of Norwegian cow’s milk and tap-water and –importantly – we explore the possibility of a KEiiNO return to Eurovision in the future.
Check out our KEiiNO playlist at www.melodyam.com/keiino, for some of the triumvirate’s discography highlights.
With a frenetic twist on electronic pop, ALMA has over the past 7 years become one of the most exciting pop artists in the world.
ALMA first rose to fame a decade ago when she took part in the Finnish version of the popular singing competition, IDOLS. Her powerful
voice and energetic stage presence quickly caught the attentions of the judges and audiences alike and she went on to place fifth in the competition. Her enviable career trajectory following the show, however, shows that it’s not all about winning competitions.
ALMA’s debut single, "Karma", came out in 2016 and she has, since, collaborated with some of the biggest names in pop, including Miley Cyrus, Charli XCX, Tove Lo, Tove Styrke and MØ.
Our interview coincides with the release of ALMA’s highly anticipated new album, Time Machine, which showcases her growth and development as an artist. It also sees her building on her songwriting prowess, penning lyrics that, at times, come from a very personal, honest place.
With a bold style and a daring, unapologetic attitude, ALMA is a role model for many in the LGBTQIA+ community, her music speaking to the
struggles and triumphs of everyday life, with a message of self-acceptance and individuality, which resonates with fans of all ages.
Listeners who have been following Melody A.M. for a while may recall that season 1 of the podcast ended with a special episode looking at
the tremendous work of song-writing and production powerhouse, Max Martin. Having worked with Max Martin’s team on her new album, ALMA tells me about the sound advice and the steer which the man himself offered, in order to help make Time Machine the big pop moment that it is. We also talk politics, what with the recent Finnish elections making it impossible not to and I find out a bit about Helsinki as well as what ALMA loves most about her home country.
On our website, at www.melodyam.com/alma you can also find a playlist dedicated to some of ALMA's finest pop moments.