Norwegian pop hitmaker Marit Larsen was made for a career in music. The uplifting singer songwriter rose to the scene as half of the wildly successful pop duo M2M in the mid 90s. After enjoying a level of international success, Larsen and her friend Marion Ravn went their separate ways in 2002.
While Ravn immediately pursued a solo career, Marit Larsen returned to school to finish her education. Music was her passion though, so it came as no surprised when Larsen returned to the scene in 2006 with her Under the Surface, which went on to become 2x Platinum in Norway. Since then Larsen has continued to hone her craft and extend her reach beyond her home country.
Earlier this year Marit Larsen turned her focus to an American audience with the American release of her When The Morning Comes in January. The projected was spearheaded by the lead single "I Don't Want To Talk About It," and was written and produced in Nashville, Tennessee with Marit Larsen acting as executive producer. The album is filled to bursting with bright pop melodies, thoughtful lyricism, and Larsen's sweetly evocative vocals.
We at PopWrapped had the opportunity to chat with Marit Larsen, and we discussed the recording process for When The Morning Comes, her plans for more new music (yup, you read that right; more new music is coming this year), touring, life on the road, and so much more! Read on to check out what she had to say!
PopWrapped: What led to your decision to record When The Morning Comes in Tennessee, so far from home?
Marit Larsen: I’ve often gone to the US to write songs for my records - being in an English speaking environment is very helpful when wanting to be creative in a language that is not my mother tongue - when I start thinking and dreaming in English is when things get interesting. But I’ve always headed back to Norway to record, mostly because of my band and my producer. This time around I wanted to finish what I started, to complete the thought, if you will, in Nashville and go into collaboration with some amazing musicians I met there. It turned out to be an exciting process in some pretty fantastic studios.
PW: Not only did you record your album in a different country, but you also acted as the project’s executive producer. Were there ever any moments that you doubted yourself along the way?
ML: I’ve never been a part of any creative process where I haven’t been confronted with doubt and second guessing things. Without it, I would actually be more worried. :) That said, going into this recording I knew very clearly what record we were making and we were able to have a lot of fun along the way, being very confident that we were heading in the right direction.
PW: How do you overcome those moments of doubt?
ML: If I stop and doubt something that doesn’t seem right along the way, I usually ask myself whether I fear how my listeners are going to respond, or if I’m actually afraid that I’ll look back at myself in five years not being able to stand for that particular thing. Usually my instincts work as a pretty solid compass, when it comes down to it.
PW: On a brighter note, what were some of the best parts of being in control of the album’s direction?
ML: I’ve always enjoyed being a part of the production side of things on my records, and I’ve learned so much over the last ten years. Now in recent years I’ve gotten comfortable having the last word. I’ve learned so much, and I genuinely enjoy being able to put something out in the world that has not been created in a constant battle of compromise. The collaboration with my co-producer (Tofer Brown) was practically battle free. That said, being confident in what you know means also being aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
PW: You have a song on the album called “Traveling Alone,” which is appropriate since in a lot of ways the recording and producing of When The Morning Comes gave you the opportunity to travel through the creation process on your own. Do you think songs like this bolstered your confidence along the creating process?
ML: This record is filled with warrior songs of different sorts. Sometimes I need a song in my life that I can’t find anywhere and then proceed to attempt to write it. This one was particularly fun - it was inspired by the beat of a song by The Black Keys.
PW: Are there any other songs on the album that could have been driven by your experiences in Tennessee?
ML: I have to confess that while I’ve been inspired by folk and (the good kind) of country for a long time, Nashville proved to have quite the opposite effect on me from what I initially expected. WTMC feels like a pretty solid pop record, whereas my next project, Joni Was Right (due in April 2016) is where I go all out in my fascination for folk. A sort of delayed reaction, I suppose. I might have had to step out of Nashville to digest it all. Haha.
PW: Do you think that your time away from Norway drove your sound in a different direction than previous projects?
ML: I’m an avid fan and investigator of new sounds and songs and places, and I like to experiment, but I genuinely think I always sound like myself no matter what path I embark on. I’ve come to rest in this and it’s made me more adventurous.
PW: Where do you tend to find inspiration when creating a song?
ML: Processes in my own head, my ever interesting friendships, new places, new sounds I discover along the way. Most songs start out with an idea for a chorus.
PW: Can you name a few artists that have inspired the development of your sound?
ML: Sufjan Stevens, Laura Marling, Feist, Gillian Welch, Joni Mitchell. To name a few. :)
PW: What are your plans for the remainder of 2016 now that When The Morning Comes has impacted American markets? Any plans for touring?
ML: We are touring in Europe this spring and planning a US tour in the fall of 2016.
PW: On the topic of traveling, what is your favorite part of being on the road?
ML: Playing music with some of my favorite people and finding great food and coffee along the way.
PW: Are there any essentials that you must have with you while traveling?
ML: My iPhone, at least one guitar, my MacBook stacked with unseen episodes of tv shows (for when there is no wifi, God forbid), my coffee hand brew gear.
PW: What were your thoughts upon selecting “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” as the lead single?
ML: Selecting a single is always hard for me, as no song would end up on one of my records if I didn’t care about it being heard. That said, I usually get a hunch as to what songs twirl their way into my brain and stay there throughout writing and recording. The chorus was to "IDWTTAI" was one of those little buggers. The same with "Traveling Alone" and "Please Don’t Fall For Me."
PW: Having started out recording as a member of M2M, do you think that there were any additional challenges that you needed to face upon deciding to pursue a solo career?
ML: I like to say that starting out so young I got to make some mistakes I haven’t had to make again. It was a great education in how the music business works, in how important your relationships are and in what you need to do to protect your integrity in a pretty strange world of music. Getting to start over at 22, I feel like I had gotten pragmatic enough that I was able to really enjoy what was going on. It goes with music as with everything else in life - the difficult stuff is going to be impossible to ignore, so make sure you celebrate all your triumphs along the way, big or small. It makes the whole difference.
PW: What is your favorite element of pursuing a career as a musician?
ML: Easy. I get to do my favorite thing every day of the year, in one way or the other.
HUGE thanks to Marit Larsen for taking the time to answer our questions and for giving us so much to look forward to in the coming months!