Three years after her breakthrough, Siri Nilsen is releasing her third album, "Skyggebokser" ("Shadow Boxer"). The title refers to recurring themes in her work: the dichotomy of not feeling entirely present in your own life, and the feeling of having to fight against different aspects of yourself, while at the same time being drawn to what is fragile and raw.
Siri Nilsen, born in 1985, is a singer-songwriter from Oslo. As the daughter of two folksingers, Lillebjørn and Shari Nilsen, she grew up surrounded by music. But she had no intention of becoming a musician - she wanted to be a ballet dancer. It was not until she was around 20 years old that Siri realised that as a dancer she was not capable of conveying the stories she wanted to tell, and that perhaps the solution to this could be found in the huge, secret notebook full of songs that she had been compiling since her early teens. A modest start with performances at local clubs opened her eyes to the possibility that music could be created and presented without the benefit of a big, professional apparatus behind her. And when she finally discovered the feeling of sharing her songs with the world, there was no turning back.
Siri Nilsen held her first public concert in 2007. Just a year later she received the Grappa New Artist Award, which resulted in the release of her dual-language debut album "Vi som ser i mørket" ("We Who See in the Dark"). Two years later her next album, "Alle snakker sant" ("Everyone is Telling the Truth"), was released. Several critics included this record on their lists of the best albums of the year. It featured on the VG record chart for three months, and gave Siri a nomination for a Spellemannspris (Norwegian Grammy) in the category "Best Female Artist". The record won the Norwegian Lyricist Fund"s "Lyspunkt" award (2012), the Oslo City Artist Award (2013) and the Prøysen Prize (2013), and was also released in Great Britain.
There was no guarantee that there would even be a new record. Shortly after releasing "Alle snakker sant" Siri had a baby, and was unable to imagine how her new way of life could possibly be combined with the life of an artist. But her songs could not be stopped. "I couldn"t stop writing completely. There was so much bubbling up under the surface, so much I wanted to say. Life became more intense than ever before, and I really wanted to manifest this in music. After all, that"s how I deal with things and express myself."
When her record company wondered if she had material ready for a new record, her answer was "yes". The problem was that this was not entirely true. The ideas were there, but they were far from finished. Siri and her family went abroad, where Father took paternity leave and Mother planned to write songs. It did not turn out exactly as planned. Back home in Norway, however, when daily life returned to normal and there was a recording deadline to be met, the songs came pouring out.
This record was produced by Øyvind Røsrud Gundersen and Jens Carelius, as was the last. But although the crew is the same, everyone who has heard Siri"s previous records will notice that something is different. The soundscape is bigger, richer - filled out with drums, bass, the sharp sound of an electric guitar and several layers of instruments. The first single, "Jeg lover" ("I Promise"), worked out when the idea of using programmed beats arose. On "Arbeid" ("Work") she sampled two of her father"s songs from the 1970s. The ukulele, which up to now has been Siri"s trademark, is nearly absent - although many of the songs were originally composed on it.
This is partly due to the songs themselves, which Siri describes as more mature, darker, and less suitable to the sweet sound of the little string instrument. Another reason is the recording process itself. While her previous album, "Alle snakker sant", was created after thorough preparation and under the rigorous control of an artist with a fully developed concept, this time Siri was far less prepared. She was more open to spur-of-the-moment ideas and input, to the extent that for the first time she ended up by collaborating with other writers: the music to "Passasjer" ("Passenger"), "Jeg lover" ("I Promise") and "Denne gangen" ("This Time") was partially or entirely created by Siri and the two producers in the studio.