Preparing for the festival by listening to all the available music by the performing artists one of them managed to really attract my attention: Penny Police. Last year she played in Aarhus as an OFF SPOT artist and was praised by Mojo-magazine. Penny Police was so kind to give Nordic Vibes some of her precious (dinner)time to talk about her music.
One of the things about Penny Police that is mentioned quite often, is that you are playing an autoharp. What makes the autoharp for you the ideal instrument?
The first reason I bought one, is it is easy to play. And so practical. Of course you have to have some musicality, but it’s not complicated to play it at all. And you know, I don’t play the guitar, so the autoharp is in fact my kind of guitar.
Listening to your latest EP “Sink or Sail” it sounds different in comparison to the first EP and your debut album. For instance I didn’t hear the autoharp.
Indeed, it isn’t on the EP but it IS still my thing. I chose to make this EP more a “one” thing because my album was more both pop and folk. I wanted to make this EP more like ambient-pop. The next album, I’m quite sure, will be more pop and folk again. When you make an EP you have to be more consequent in what you are doing but on an album you can be more loose. Probably one or two of my favorite songs of this EP will eventually be included on the next album. This summer I’m gonna start writing new songs planning to have a whole new album out in the fall of 2014.
Would you describe your music as Scandinavian and what are your influences?
Well, I think it is melancholic. Scandinavian music often is melancholic. But I don’t have specific inspirations, it is a little bit of everything and nothing. I think it has it’s own sound. Actually some people in Denmark when they hear my songs think it’s by an American artist. You could say it is a compliment for sounding professional which gives me the impression my music isn’t directly recognised as Scandinavian.
Although your music doesn’t have specific inspirations, do you have any musical heroes? Any Danish musicians?
The Beatles! They’re amazing. But I can’t recall any Danish ones, or at least not obvious.
What kind of music are you listening to yourself on your iPod?
Actually I don’t have an iPod and I don’t have music on my telephone. but I like to listen to The Beatles, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and to Foxygen, which was a birthday present. And then I listen to my friends music as a lot of them are musicians themselves. When they release something new I check it out.
How did you start making music?
Apart from the autoharp I also play the piano. That was actually my first instrument. It started of when I was a nine year old girl. We didn’t have one at home so I played on my friends piano. Then I asked my parents if they could buy me one, and they did. Just a cheap one which was out of tune, but still so nice of them. It gave me the opportunity to check it out. Then I saved money for a good one. I still got it. Actually I also played the saxophone and I played the church organ for a year or two. So I tried a lot of things. I went to school to learn play the church organ for about a year but eventually stopped as it was a little bit to much while I did so many other things. At a moment, when I was about 25, I said to myself: now you have to focus on writing songs and don’t play all that other things. So I continued making songs just with the piano.
Singer-songwriters quite often write and sing about their own personal experiences. How personal are your lyrics?
It is not that I experience everything that I write about. But I’m sort of living it through in my head and imagining, reflecting it. My lyrics are not concrete. It’s more like reflections of life in general. How to get the best life when you are who you are. So they are somehow personal but based on general ideas. Life and death. Ups and downs.
Although you’ve been a musician for several years, this is your first time at SPOT festival. Nevertheless you already played on Iceland Airwaves in 2010! How did you manage to get international interest in such an early stage?
I was ‘discovered’ by one of the people arranging it when I played a concert in Aarhus. She invited me and I said yes. 🙂
There are many great acts at SPOT festival to watch and listen, unfortunately we cannot see them all. Any recommendations which bands we should not miss?
I would like to go and see ‘Mariam The Believer (SE)’ myself, I haven’t heard it yet but I was told it is great. “Echo Me”! He is so good, once he was my guitar-player. But now he is very busy with his own project. You should check him out. And “CTM”, that would be cool as well. A lot of them are interesting. “When Saint Go Machine”, I think I like them all!