TMF meets Thomas Dybdahl

Norwegian singer/songwriter Thomas Dybdahl is on his sixth album, but it took him a while to make an appearance on UK shores. We covered his debut UK self-titled release, which compiled the best tracks from his first four albums, back in September 2009 and now he's ready for another career milestone: his first worldwide full-length debut. That worldwide release is Songs and with its release just a couple of weeks away (July 4th), we decided to catch up with him to talk about sleaze, BAFTAs and side projects.

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For our readers that might not have heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into music?

Very quick bio: started playing guitar at four, had a brief flirt with sports, then came back to guitar at the age of ten. Started writing my own songs when I was about 14 and started to write good songs when I was around 20. Released my first full length album in Norway in 2002 and have been very lucky to have had a great career there so far. Have released five solo albums as well as doing some music for films, some side projects and some producing for others.

You’ve been compared to Nick Drake, but who would you compare your musical style to?

That's always a tough one. Hopefully it will sound like I am getting my inspiration from different plates. I really like the melancholic, folk-jazzy sound on records like Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left and Tim Buckley's Happy Sad, but I am also into funkier and sleazier stuff like Serge Gainsbourg and Prince. As well as being a fan of Curtis Mayfield, Dángelo, Dirty Projectors, Beach House etc...

Songs is your sixth full-length album but your debut worldwide release, what was behind the decision to make your worldwide bow with this album?

It wasn't really my decision to be honest. The timing was just very good and when Decca and Larry Klein came on board, this compilation was what they saw as the best way to introduce my music to people in the UK and the US. I am not a label guy, so I trust they know what they are doing. I get to tour the record anyway and that´s the most important thing to me.

How has your approach to the recording process of an album changed over the years or is it a case of ‘if it isn’t broke…’?

It's changed quite a bit actually. But it's all just in pursuit of a new sound and new ideas. I try to attack recording and production in a very open and creative way. There are no rules whatsoever as long as what ends up on tape is cool.


You’ve won the Spellemannprisen and worked with the likes of Morcheeba and Phillippe Starck, but what would you consider to be the highlight of your career so far?

Winning the Norwegian "BAFTA", Amandaprisen, for best score to a film was very special. Not so much the award itself, but awards are usually nothing more than a physical reminder that you achieved what you set out to. This was my first score and a great experience.

Are there any plans to release a new The National Bank [Dybdahl's side project with other Norwegian artists including BigBang's Nikolai Eilertsen] album?

Not specific, no. I am pretty sure it will happen eventually though. Too fun not to!

It’s just starting raining in the UK which tells us one thing – festivals are here. Any plans to visit these shores over the coming months?

Playing Green Man Festival on August 21st; hopefully more to come once we get to see peoples' reaction to the album.

Also, with the album out in a couple of weeks, any plans for a full UK tour?

Yes, definitely. Not sure when, but I am confident we will be rampaging around on your cozy little island soon enough.

And finally, where do you see yourself in five years time?

I wouldn't want to know. The uncertainty is half the excitement!

Songs is out on July 4th on Decca Records.

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