In the music people make, there is always an influence of place, while a songwriters influences may come from across the planet, and we live in an ever more globally connected world, a person’s roots will always creep out. Somehow this always seems to be even more striking when looking at the music of Scandinavia, the unending skies, the glacial chill, the sense of space, and often stark isolation, always seems to creep in, that’s undeniably the case with Siv Jakobsen.
We first came across Siv’s music back in 2017, through her stunning debut album, The Nordic Mellow, a straight talking, gorgeously atmospheric and unflinchingly honest record, that invited the listener in, and asked them to see the world through her eyes. The Nordic Mellow was recorded in just a few weeks, and transported Siv’s music out into the world, garnering critical acclaim and sending her touring across the UK and Europe in support of the likes of Damien Jurado and Benjamin Francis Leftwich. The success of that record shaped both the recording and the ambition of the follow-up, A Temporary Soothing, which was originally due out last week, now delayed until August for understandable reasons.
Recorded in short two-weeks busts over a year long period, A Temporary Soothing is a record that reflects its creation, an album imbued with a sense of time passing, and ideas being allowed the space to be processed. The result is something that’s both more ambitious and less hurried, allowing Siv the freedom to try things and the ability to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. As with The Nordic Mellow, Siv explores fear, anxiety, change, and the struggle between being healthy and being productive, however now there’s a greater sense of reflection. Perhaps as a result this is a record less for Siv’s own understanding, and more to help others find something relatable, something to cling onto and help us all process the ups and downs of a life being led.
With touring plans and an album release date on hold, Siv was kind enough to take some time to answer our questions, discussing supporting artists in these difficult times, the Norwegian music scene and how, “you don’t have to be this broken human to make good art”.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Siv Jakobsen?
Siv Jakobsen is a songwriter, musician and artist from Oslo, Norway. She is an avid coffee-drinker and few things excite her more than a really good cup of coffee or a really good song.
FTR: You’re building up to the release of your new album, A Temporary Soothing, what can you tell us about the recording process?
The album was recorded in Devon in the south of England throughout the end of 2018 and first half of 2019. The album was for the most part performed by me, Chris Bond (who also produced the album) and Bear Bond (who also engineered the album). The whole process was led by us all being creative and free to try whatever we felt like, without any judgement. It was a really fun process that allowed for some really cool arrangements in the end.
FTR: We saw you recorded the record with Chris Bond, how did that come about? What appealed to you about working with him?
I had been a fan of Chris’ work as a producer for a while, especially of his work on Ben Howards sophomore album. It’s really interesting and “free-sounding” in a creative sense, which was the main reason I got in touch with Chris. I wanted to try that kind of approach – to let the people working on the record be really free to try whatever they wanted on the songs. Because I love Chris’ work I felt safe doing that with him.
FTR: What did you do differently with this record compared to The Nordic Mellow?
With The Nordic Mellow I had a clearer sense going into the recording process of what sort of album I wanted to make. With A Temporary Soothing I had some thoughts on it, but I was feeling ready to let go a bit more, to see where that would lead.
FTR: It’s been three years since your debut album, what have you been doing since then?
I spent some time touring my last record, before going into about a year of almost exclusively writing. I wanted to be still for a while, to be home. I had been touring so much that I didn’t know what it felt like to be home for an extended period of time. After I finished writing the record I spent a long time recording it, going back and forth from Oslo to Devon. Since we finished recording it the summer of 2019 I’ve been gearing up to release the new album, which I’m really excited for.
FTR: What are your aspirations for A Temporary Soothing? Do you see music as a viable career in 2020?
My aspirations for the record is for it to reach as many ears as possible, and for it to be helpful in any way to the people who find it and listen to it.
I do see music as a viable career, although it’s a pretty difficult one to have. It’s constant hard work and commitment, and it’s not a career to choose if you want to make a lot of money.
FTR: Do you have another job besides music?
Not at the moment, but I used to work as a barista. I really enjoyed it so I might do it again sometime.
FTR: What about other art forms? Do you have other creative outlets?
Not really! I enjoy knitting (hello grandma Siv!) but I don’t do it a lot. I really enjoy playing guitar for fun – apart from sitting down to practice for gigs or writing songs – just playing guitar without there being an end goal or agenda. That’s a creative outlet for me that I really enjoy.
FTR: Where does the title, A Temporary Soothing, come from? Do you see the album as an attempt to soothe yourself? Or your listeners?
The title comes from a line in the song Only Life.
In the song the line fits in like this:
Drinks and drugs and caffeine
Runs wild through his frame
To fill a void beneath his skin
It’s a hollow float
A temporary soothing
In the context of the song the line refers to someone using substances to numb pain. However, in the broader sense of the record that line to me is much more uplifting. I want the record to serve as a temporary soothing to its listeners. It’s also a reminder to myself that there is no light without dark – that it isn’t possible to feel great all the time. We are all so layered, we feel so many different emotions throughout a day, a week, a decade. We can’t expect to feel incredible at all times, and striving for that will make you feel worse I think.
FTR: We saw you described the album as being about, “the struggle between being healthy and being productive”, do you think the two are mutually exclusive? How do you balance the two?
A catalyst for writing this record for me was my worry that I couldn’t write good songs if I was feeling happy and content with my life. So I wrote about that worry a lot – but I do really think, after having gone through the process of worrying about it so much, that I (and anyone) can create from any emotion. You don’t have to be this broken human to make good art. I’ve realised that writing and playing music really is a form of therapy for me, however cheesy that may sound. So the balancing for me is the writing. It helps me process whatever it is that I am living through, the good and the bad.
FTR: What’s the Norwegian music scene like currently? Is there anyone we should be listening out for?
The Norwegian music scene is lovely! I’ve been really into Highasakite’s new EP’s The Bare Romantic lately. I also really like Malin Pettersen and Inge Bremnes. Inge sings in Norwegian mostly – but it’s worth a listen even if you don’t speak Norwegian.
FTR: It’s obviously difficult times for touring musicians, and we saw you were affected. What’s the best way for people to support artists like yourself at the moment?
Listen to our music, buy our records, go to an online show, and spread the word to your friends and family about the music and the artists that you love. And when we are allowed to play shows again in public – buy tickets and go to as many shows as you can.
FTR: Once touring does resume, what can people expect from the Siv Jakobsen live show? Have you been able to rearrange any dates people can look forward to?
I am hoping to be able to do as many shows as possible with my band – which will bring a bit more bite to the shows. We are currently working to reschedule my European may tour for the autumn, so there will definitely be shows to look forward to.
FTR: What’s next for Siv Jakobsen?
More songs, both out in the world for you to listen to this very week, and more songs written by me while I have all this extra time on my hands at home.
A Temporary Soothing is out August 21st via U OK? Click HERE for more information on Siv Jakobsen.