“When I was 10 years old, I got the Aqua ‘Aquarium’ album for Christmas from my Grandmother,” Sturle Dagsland explains, when asked where his love for music began. “Then there was a contest at school and I planned to perform ‘Barbie Girl’ of course. I was supposed to perform with my friend—I would be Barbie and he was Ken—but he dropped out the day of the show. So me and my Mother had to make a doll that was Ken.”
Sturle says all this as if making a doll to replace his friend would be the most natural solution to the problem. It’s clear that, even then, he was a natural performer. For, as any performer knows, the show must go on.
“So I borrowed my Mother’s bra and mini skirt and made myself up like a Barbie. I filled the bra with lots of candy, which I called my silicone, and I performed ‘Barbie Girl’. I was simulating sex with the doll on stage and just having a really fun show,” he continues, grinning. “At the end I threw out all the candy from the bra!”
The question of course remains—did he win the contest?
“Yeah!” he says casually. “And I got booked to do the same thing in a church!”
At this, his brother and bandmate Sjur grins. “That was your first paying gig.”
To call Sturle’s music theatrical feels derivative. Transformative might be more fitting. His works are escapist in a way you might have never experienced before. Instead of transporting you to the fantastical dreamy places you keep in the back of your mind, they pull you sharply into surreal worlds you couldn’t possibly imagine. Worlds where any boundaries between genres, tones, vibes and structures are erased. Now, after years of relentless touring, he’s here with his debut self-titled effort.
“It’s a very expressive, explorative and dynamic album,” Sturle explains. “We use lots of different instruments from all over the world—harps, waterphones, African instruments, Nordic instruments like nyckelharpa, which is sort of a fiddle. We even have a custom-made billy goat horn that an old man in the north of Norway made for us.”
He smiles. “Then we mix them with electronics, and I use lots of different vocal techniques, throat singing, pop—you know, it’s a mix of lots of different things…” he says, trailing off.
I can’t help but grin. Only Sturle would put throat singing, waterphones, a custom-made billy goat horn and pop singing into the same sentence and say it so nonchalantly. It’s a testament to his creativity and love of music—for Sturle, these instruments are only the beginning.
Kiwis & churches
The brothers are known for their energetic live performances—they were supposed to perform at this year’s Secret Solstice festival and will hopefully appear at the next if it happens and they’ve travelled the world together, appearing everywhere from Shanghai city squares to small villages in Greenland.
“We played a show in an old church in Greenland. There was no electricity in the church and it was -30°C. I had to wear all my clothes just to perform,” Sturle remembers. “But it’s like, now we really miss doing that show.”
It’s easy to see how they’d thrive onstage and when asked about their approach to bringing such extravagant music into a live setting, the two reference a review they once had where Sturle was compared to GG Allin.
“It said, ‘I always wanted to experience something like GG Allin, but never thought I would experience it from a guy walking onstage in pantaloons and tights eating a kiwi,’” he says, smiling. “But then, the year later, the same people compared him to Charles Manson,” his brother adds. The two then burst out in laughter.
Granted, the pandemic was rough on them. They had around 80 shows cancelled, including tours in Europe, South America and Asia. However, as you’d expect, both are remarkably jovial about their time spent at home—even if it wasn’t ideal.
“Every morning in lockdown, Sjur’s neighbour woke him up by playing the ‘Seinfeld’ theme song on bass guitar. So every morning we’d say, ‘Okay, it couldn’t get worse than this!’ But then the next day he’d get woken by it again.” Sturle laughs before mimicking the famous bass-line.
“Of course, it’s not the ideal time to release an album. It’s probably harder to release an album right now,” he concludes. “But, you know, you can’t just sit on the album because you have to, right?”
No—the show must go on.
Check out ‘Sturle Dagsland’ by Sturle Dagsland on all streaming platforms. You can pick up an LP from his Bandcamp as well!
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