Something that the new breed of singer/songwriter seem to forget is that re-inventing the wheel doesn’t automatically make you a gifted songwriter. So it’s refreshing to meet an artist who hasn’t attempted to create the next Sgt Pepper’s, he’s simply crafted a pleasing EP from true and tried soft rock origins.
St. Niklas’ debut EP Origo portrays a youth spent crooning away to the melancholic sounds of Coldplay, Lifehouse and The Goo Goo Dolls. All three original tracks, whilst sonically somewhat generic, are still highly enjoyable to listen to. The album’s strength though, is in the lyrics. Covering topics from making your family proud to self-empowerment, there is a definite positivity to his message. God knows we could all use a little more positivity in our lives.
St. Niklas grew up in Trondheim, Norway dreaming about one day playing music for the masses. Despite music being seen as a somewhat idle pursuit by his elders, after first picking up a guitar at age 11, he knew a life in pursuit of beautiful melody was his calling. When the lead singer of his band quit, he thrust himself toward the front of the stage, much to the amusement of his friends. “I had faith in myself that I could progress as a singer,” he comments about the moment he realised he couldn’t rely on anyone else to achieve his musical goals for him. The last laugh, it would seem, is his. For that band is history but St. Niklas’ career is just blooming.
Named after the latin word for ‘origin’, St Niklas explains that the EP symbolically marks the beginning of a huge journey for him as an artist, “This is the beginning of what really just was a childhood dream at some point.” And the choice to use a man wearing a fox mask for the cover? “Being an artist in today’s music industry is for me in many ways related to being a fox living in the wild nature. Every day is somehow a survival of the fittest.”
And survive he will, providing he keeps making music as rich as Proud and Everything Is In Your Hands. Whilst this EP is unashamedly influenced by 90s pop rock, the album that St Niklas has planned for future release will take a slightly different turn. “For the forthcoming material we’ll release, we have been listening a lot to 80’s acts such as Michael Jackson, Talking Heads, The Police, David Bowie just to mention a few… the elements that defined that decade of music in my opinion; the distinct drum beats, bubbling synthesizers and amazing, meaningful guitar hooks and solos.”
That’s a reasonably broad selection of influences. But if Origo is what he can do with Coldplay and The Fray, one can only be excited to see what he makes from Michael Jackson and David Bowie!
Read the full interview below:
Outlet: For those who haven’t heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you first got started in music?
St. Niklas: Hey! I’m a twenty six years old singer songwriter from a relatively small town in the central part of Norway called Trondheim. Like many young dreamers, throughout the childhood years, it was always a big dream to make a career out of music. I started playing the guitar when I was eleven years old, but at that point – it was just for fun. I was truly unaware that someday in the future, I would write songs, make melodies, and most importantly, sing in front of crowd at a packed venue. What really shake things up for my carrier was when the lead singer in one of my first bands quit. At that point, I only knew how to play the guitar. It was the exact moment I realized that I could not depend on others to achieve my musical goals. To be honest, still remember that my friends laughed of me back then when I tried to sing out loud for them, haha!. Although, I had faith in myself that I could progress as a singer, so I kept dreaming with my eyes open – and after years with practice, I eventually got to a point where I could sing. After that, I started making songs, uploaded a demo on SoundCloud, teamed up with my current manager – and the rest is history.
O: What inspired you to name the EP ‘Origo’?
SN: Origo is latin for “Origin”, meaning “beginning”. This is it, THIS IS the beginning of what really just was a childhood dream at some point. The table’s turned, I’m in full control now, and I just need to make sure I’ll keep a steady course in the upcoming months, because I know they will determine a lot for me and everyone involved in the project.
O: Can you tell us a bit about the concept behind the cover art?
SN: Obviously, it’s a person wearing a fox mask. (It`s actually hand crafted by me..haha!). Being an artist in today’s music industry is for me in many ways related to being a fox living in the wild nature. Every day is somehow a survival of the fittest.
O: What does the songwriting process involve for you? Do you have a set routine or do you like to let it happen organically?
SN: I’ve really tried organising my routines when it comes to songwriting, but it never really worked for me. So the iPhone vocal recording app plays an important role in my everyday life, because it so many things that triggers my inspiration, so I really never know when or where a new idea comes to life, but that’s actually the fun part of making music.
O: We’re really digging your track “Proud”. Is there a backstory to the song? What was the creative/writing process like?
SN: That’s so great to hear! “Proud” is really a result of growing up in a society where there’s an underlying expectation of getting a proper education and being overall successful in the choices you make for your career. Where I come from, going all in for music is somehow looked upon as something that’s not rationally to do when it comes to “being a successful person” (or whatever that means?). But, to be honest, I never liked playing it safe, high stakes at risk somehow drives me to keep pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible.
O: Do you have any bands/musicians that you find inspiration from?
SN: Growing up as a teenager, I always loved listening to artists such as John Mayer, Coldplay, The Fray, Lifehouse and The Goo Goo Dolls– that’s what got me into pop music. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching the last couple of years, and I realised that it is so much music I’ve overlooked! For the forthcoming material we’ll release, we have been listening a lot to 80’s acts such as Michael Jackson, Talking Heads, The Police, David Bowie just to mention a few..the elements that defined that decade of music in my opinion; the distinct drum beats, bubbling synthesizers and amazing, meaningful guitar hooks and solos has been a huge influence to the sound of St. Niklas.
O: Music, like art, is something you have to give up control over once you’ve created it. If there were one thing you could guarantee people derive from your lyrics, what would it be?
SN: Music is the compass in life I can always rely on, to show me that I’m on the right path. I always strive to make every word I put into song count, and I really do hope people eventually will see that it reflects my way of thinking when it comes to songwriting.
O: What are you most proud of in your career to date?
SN: It’s really tricky to point out specific a specific achievement at the point where I’m now, I’d rather say it’s the sum of everything we achieved so far. I’d have to quote Foo Fighters’ song from Sonic Highways on this; “Something out of Nothing” –is what I’m most proud of right now. The last couple of months have been crazy compared to the last couple of years musically speaking, which is really great!
O: Do you have any advice for upcoming musicians/bands?
SN: Keep dreaming with your eyes open – if you really want something, no matter how far it seems – if you keep working for it, it will eventually come your way.
O: What’s next for St. Niklas? Are you currently working on a full-length?
SN: We’re currently recording our debut album as we speak. It’s a 10 track album and it’s set for release at this time of the year in 2016. Before that we’ll do a lot of touring and probably release one or two more EP’s consisting of songs that will be part of the full-length. If we keep progressing the same way we done as a band the last couple of months, I’m pretty sure 2016 be a crazy year.
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