Norwegian singer-songwriter Unnveig Aas has been making a name for herself in her native land and is poised to make a big impact in the U.S., too. She infuses country, pop, classic rock, and folk while experimenting with open guitar tunings and synth-like steel guitar, creating a unique sound that blends well with her outstanding vocals. DittyTV Senior Editor Tim W. Jackson was able to touch base with Aas in another segment of Americana Around the World.
First, let’s get a bit of background on you. Where did you grow up, and who were some of your early musical influences?
I grew up in the southeast of Norway, about an hour from the capital, Oslo, in a small town by the sea. I remember from an early age that my parents were interested in music and literature. My dad listens to artists such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Johnny Cash. My mum really loves ABBA, which I think might be starting to show in my music now, and she also listens to a lot of great country singers like Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton. As a child and into my early teens I thought my parents’ taste in music was pretty lame, but luckily I came to my senses.
How about current influences? Who are you listening to now and who offers you musical inspiration?
Lately I’ve been listening to the new albums from Fionn Reagan, The Tallest Man on Earth (all the talented Swedes!), Angel Olsen, Lana Del Rey, Bill Callahan, and some of my Norwegian colleagues have released great albums this fall. I saw you did an interview with one of them, Louien. Also August Kann is a new Norwegian artist I’ve been introduced to recently. My biggest inspirations are probably Laura Marling and First Aid Kit.
Can you describe a moment when you first knew that you wanted to sing professionally?
Back in 2013 I was invited to do a gig at a festival in Bremen in Germany (wow, I was so young back then). It was a really huge crowd inside a festival tent, probably the biggest audience I have ever played for. When I left the stage they kept clapping, wanting more. It was a surreal moment. After the show a lot of people stopped me and said they loved the concert and that I made some of them cry. I think from then on I wanted to continue moving people with my music.
You released your debut album, Old Soul, in 2017 to critical acclaim. How has your musical career grown and evolved since the release of that album?
I learned so much from recording a full-length album, both when it comes to the technical process, and also the patience and hard work that it takes. After the release I had the pleasure of playing new places, mostly in Norway, but I also did a show in Stockholm, and I evolved a lot as a live artist.
You caught our attention with your single “Right From the Start,” which will be on your Young Heart album that releases Nov. 15. What can you tell us about making that album and the musicians involved?
Thank you! I tried letting more loose while recording this album. My first album was planned (almost) down to every note, and most of the songs were recorded with a metronome. On Young Heart I did more live takes, and I also tried experimenting more with my vocals. I had the pleasure of working with producer Kenneth Ishak, who had a lot of great ideas and played some mean synth, piano, and guitar.
With the release of the album in November, what plans do you have for touring and promotion? And any chance you’ll perform in the U.S.?
I will do a tour in Norway this winter/spring. No plans to visit the U.S., but I would absolutely love that! Invite me over?
Sure thing. We’d love to have you tour here! And finally, in addition to writing lyrics, you’ve also written a couple books of poems. What can you tell us about being a writer in general and the differences between writing lyrics and poems?
I guess the writing process is not that different, except that I usually have my guitar when I write lyrics. But the afterlife is different. When the book is finished, it is finished, while the songs are being played over and over, and they never sound exactly the same every time. When writing a book, fewer people are involved, too, as I often go to my band with half-written songs asking for advice. It can make me feel very vulnerable. When writing poems its usually just me, and eventually my editor. I really love to be able to write poetry as well as music, to calm down and be all alone with my thoughts and ideas.