INTERVIEW: Amanda Tenfjord @ The Great Escape, Brighton

The Verse’s Autumn Micketti interviewed singer Amanda Tenfjord before her gigs at The Great Escape. 

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the number of artists attending The Great Escape next week then you’re not alone. With over 500 artists performing across Brighton it’s hard to know which groups are worth seeking out and which are not your cup of tea. Thankfully, The Great Escape offers an amazing app that gives information about each artist and when and where they will be performing during the festival. You can also listen to each artist through Soundcloud and plan out the shows you want to see, all within the app!

The festival has yet to begin and I’ve already discovered several amazing artists that will be attending next week. One I am very excited to share is the amazingly talented Amanda Tenfjord. Hailing from a small village in western Norway called Tenfjord (yes, her surname is also Tenfjord), this singer is turning heads with her pointed lyrics, fun beats, and beautiful voice. Fans of Adele, Maggie Rogers, and Pom Poko (also performing at TGE), will fall in love with Tenfjord’s unique sound and engaging performance.

Amanda and I caught up on the phone earlier this week. Amanda had just returned from a song writing camp in Bergen and was settling back into home life and getting ready to head out on tour.

V: So besides settling in at home, how are you doing?

A: I’m doing very well. I’ve had a week away doing like a writing camp. So yeah, it’s nice to be home.

V: What’s the music scene like in Norway?

A: There are a lot of people doing very great stuff in Trondheim where I live now; there’s a lot of good musicians. There’s a jazz conservatory and a lot of good venues as well.

V: What kind of music were you surrounded by growing up, what did your family play?

A: Well I am half Greek, so I grew up listening to a lot of Greek music. My dad played all of the really old Greek songs which basically are just guitars and vocals. So, like melancholic sad music, and then also I remember mom sang a lot of Whitney Houston and that kind of stuff. So yeah, it’s been a good mixture of that kind of stuff.

V: That does sound like a good range of ideas coming through.

A: Yeah definitely.

V: Do you feel like that’s affected what you play now?

A: I think so without even knowing it because I’ve always really loved acoustic things and where it seems like there’s not too much in the production but just the lyrics and the melodies being really strong. I have lately released some fun music as well but honestly in my heart it’s sad music that makes you cry. That’s what I like most.

V: Do you remember how old you were when you wrote your first song?

A: Yeah, I was 16. That was the first serious song in English. When I was 10 or something, I wrote this Norwegian song for like a children’s Eurovision, but it was not very good. Then my first song that I actually released I wrote when I was 16.

V: And do you remember what that one was called?

A: Yes, it’s called The One. I’ve played piano all of my life, but I actually wrote it when I got my first guitar for Christmas that year. I released it on Spotify, but I think it’s only in Norway.

V: When you listen to that song again how do you feel about it? Are you still happy with it or do you feel like you’ve moved on from that?

A: Actually, that’s like one of my favourite songs. I know that’s strange but I still kind of like it a lot. I don’t play it much live anymore but sometimes I’ll play it on the guitar when I have like a small acoustic thing.

V: That’s awesome! I’ve asked that question before to other people and a lot of the time they say they hate their first songs. So that’s cool that you are still into it and it still makes you happy.

A: Yeah it still kind of feels like me, you know?

V: How often are you writing? Do you write like every day?

A: It depends. I had like three weeks with kind of non-stop writing sessions. But I need breaks because now I feel kind of empty. I need like some days off sometimes just to sit by myself as well as to figure out some ideas with the piano and stuff. So, I would say it’s not every day, but it goes like in periods.

V: Tell me more about the writing camp.

A: I was in Bergen which is in the west coast of Norway, and every year they have this writing camp where producers and writers come from all over the world. It’s the first time that I’ve done that camp, but it was so good! And it’s fun to meet so many different people and it turned out very good.

V: Is it just like you guys get put in groups and then you work together to create songs? is that the basic layout?

A: Yeah, it’s like you have three days, so the first day you are with one group, so it was me, two other producers and one songwriter. And then you write one or two or three songs and then the next day you change groups. And the last day we had like this listening session where we listened to all of the songs that were made in three days. So, it was like 31 songs and it was so much fun to listen to all of the songs. A lot of talented people.

V: And do you plan on using any of the stuff that you’ve written or is it just purely for the fun and the experience?

A: Well this camp is quite special because you write to the artist in the room. So, we wrote for me, so I actually like both of the songs that I wrote so perhaps they will come out one day.

V: Yeah that would be cool! So, when you’re not doing music what do you do with your time?

A: Well I’ve always studied on the side. This is the first year I’ve not been studying and so it feels kind of new because before I was just reading when I didn’t do music. This year it’s been quite a lot of traveling. So now I just hang out with my boyfriend when I have free days and walk to the mountain or something.

V: What were you studying before?

A: Medicine, to become a doctor.

V: And do you think at this point you are just going to be focusing on music or do you think you’ll go back?

A: I don’t know, I haven’t really decided. I kind of feel that there’s no rush in going back to medicine, but I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.

V: That seems like something that you could always just feel it out and see what happens. And you just released the single The Floor is Lava; can you tell me a little bit about that writing process?

A: I wrote it with a friend of mine. We were in his bedroom and we used these boxes as a table because we didn’t have any equipment. And I remember he put on this loop which is like the intro of the song which was a coconut sound. I was like ‘oh that’s cool’, and then I just kind of played around with it and I wanted to make like a fun song about being a kid again. So that was very fun writing that.

V: I love that it was talking about pretending that the floor is love and jumping around because that definitely brought me back to doing that as a kid as well.

A: I sometimes really miss just being that kid.

V: Did you have a favourite game besides the playing the floor is lava? Did you have another one that you like to do as a kid?

A: It was like the whole neighbourhood met up, cause where I lived it was a really small village and played a game kind of like hide and seek. That was my favourite.

V: That’s always fun. My friends and I used to do what we called ‘lost kids’ and we just pretended to be kids that were lost in the woods and had to survive by ourselves.

So, you’ll be coming to The Great Escape next week, have you come to The Great Escape before?

A: No, I haven’t, I’ve never been to Brighton before.

V: Brighton is fantastic. I’m sure you’ll love it.

A: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it!

V: Have you looked at the line-up at all? Is there anyone that you’re excited to see or meet?

A: I have not. I know there’s other Norwegian people going and so that’s fun. I know that Iris from Norway is going. She was in Bergen with me last week. She’s very good, so if you have time you should see her.

V: Awesome! Can you tell me what your live shows are like?

A: I have a band with me. So, I have a drummer, bass, guitarist and also a key girl. And so, it’s a lot of energy from the start and also like some really slow songs so I guess it’s like everything from really up-beat dance songs to like really sad songs. So, it’s a mixture of everything.

V: You have TGE coming up and then I’m assuming you have more shows after The Great Escape happening?

A: Yeah, we’re doing like a lot of summer shows. So that’s going to be nice.

V: Is there any show in particular that you’re looking forward to?

A: Well I’m playing this festival that’s like really up north. I’ve never been so far north before, and it’s on a beach and it’s very nice and north of Norway is like so beautiful, so I’m really looking forward to it.

V: And are you thinking that there will be an album in the future?

A: Definitely thinking that first is gonna come another EP and then I kind of feel like I want to be ready when I’m releasing an album. I want to feel like all the songs are a hundred percent me and I feel that I’m getting there. Maybe next year?

V: Yeah that would be really exciting! If you could like collaborate or work with any artist who would you choose?

A: That’s good a question. Who do I like? Oh, there’s a lot! I’m really fond of Julia Michaels because I like her lyrics. She’s a very good writer. I’ve been a fan of Billie Eilish since she was like 200 followers on Instagram, but I don’t think she does collaborate. Also, Aurora, she is Norwegian.

V: Cool. Well hopefully that will be able to happen because I bet that would be really fun.

After chatting with Amanda, I am even more excited to see her live and in person. Her easy-going manner and intelligent thoughts made her extremely enjoyable to talk to and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her headlining shows across the world in the near future.

The Verse Staff

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