Interview with Dea Norberg: “I live and breathe music all the time”

pressbild 4_1We took the opportunity that we were spending some days in Stockholm end of September to set up a last-minute meeting with Dea Norberg to talk about her EP “Storm”, which was released on the 1st of October. We talked about the EP and the process behind it, but also nature, travelling and, of course, the upcoming Roxette tour.

“Storm” EP

RXB/Judith: Thank you for taking some time to meet us so short notice! You are going to release an EP next week, on October 1st. When did you come up with the idea of doing this EP?

Dea: As a singer you have your creative side too, the writing part has always been a little bit there for me, but I hadn’t really done anything on my own before. I actually released an album with a friend of mine in 1999, some of my old songs were there, but this EP is all on my own. That release was so long ago, so when fans came up to me asking me to sign that one, it felt like it was time to do something else, haha! This EP shows where I am right now.

We know the album will be released digitally, but will it be available physically too? [You will find information about where to purchase the album at the bottom of the article]

Yes! So far the physical can only be bought in Swedish music stores, so I am in contact with CDBaby, they sell worldwide, so I hope I can set it up so that everybody can buy it. I am doing everything myself, so I am also learning a lot with this release. It’s a big process. And I actually have a copy for you!

[we look at the EP, a very nice digipack with lovely pictures of Dea]

Åsa Elmgren, the make-up girl at the Roxette tour, did the make-up for these pictures. And I was lucky to be able to have a horse of a friend of mine for the photo session.

I just thought, you could take some CDs with you and sell them at the merchandise stand during the Roxette tour?

Actually, Per said “you should sell it on the tour” haha! I was like “Can I?” and he said “of course!” So that is super nice. But I am still not sure, I have to see how many I can carry with me and if it works out. It may be a bit tricky to take them in some parts of the world, with customs and all. But somehow it will be available for you all, either this way or via CDbaby.

Dea_cover_600Are you planning on doing a lot of promotion with the album?

I never had this need of “I wanna be a star” now, be out there in the spotlight. I like to be in the background, so I don’t have the ambition for this to become something huge. I also don’t plan to do any release party, I don’t have time now, I have to concentrate on the upcoming Roxette tour. But if someone listens to the EP and likes it then it’s fine. Like I said in a couple of radio interviews I did the last weeks, the main reason I made this was for the Roxette fans, who either came up to me with either the old CD or asked me if I would ever do something solo. So I will be happy if people listen to it and like it.

I just heard the song “Storm” so far, I liked the melody, it’s the kind of music I have been listening to a lot lately, kind of indie, very much about the instruments…

Yes, for me it’s about emotion. To create a little world, almost meditative, with music but still in the pop world. And indeed, the focus on the CD is more the music than the singing, you will see.

When did you record the album?

In April this year. The recording process was very quick, the producer, Andreas Dahlbäck, and I spent quite some time deciding where to go, but once the musicians were in the studio, it was just two days. The rest was mixing, finishing the small details and also lots of paperwork to be able to actually release it.

Have you been writing songs for a long time? Have you written the songs yourself?

Yes. I was always writing fragments, bits and pieces, when I was travelling, waiting at the airport or at the countryside. I also play piano, so it’s more like putting thousands of ideas together. I think I will try to do this more often now, I enjoyed the process.

Two of the songs, “Stay For A While” and “Have You Ever” were composed with Jens Frithiof, the guitar player on the album, back in 2008. I wrote “Storm” and “Say” this year. All lyrics were written by me.

I see that all four songs are in English, do you always write in English or also in Swedish?

I also have a couple of songs in Swedish too, but I gave all the stuff to the producer and he tried to find the central theme for the album, so these four songs made it in the end. Maybe those in Swedish will be released later.

About other projects, nature, travelling

So you have been working on this EP for the past months, but what else have you been doing since the Roxette tour finished in 2012?

I worked with some Swedish artists, mostly. For example, I did a TV show with Lisa Nilsson and this summer I was on tour with Björn Skifs, he is still going strong, it was full-house in all locations. It was a very fun summer.

I was also on Let’s dance (Dancing with the Stars in other countries) singing backing vocals. And I did a concert with Nils Landgren, a trombone player who plays jazz. We will do one more concert right before Roxette starts the tour end of October.

And as I think you know, I was also doing backing vocals at this year’s Song Contest with Sanna Nilsson.

Talking about Eurovision, I know that you have participated there many times… what can you tell about it?

Yes! I think it was my tenth this year. It’s just a huge thing, but since I’ve been there a couple of times, you know what to expect, it’s familiar wherever it is in the world. Also because so many Swedes work there. The last years it became more diversified, there are many music styles; you can expect almost anything there, that’s fun.

I heard from a couple of people who were involved this year with the Austrian participant (and winner) Conchita that the two weeks are quite exhausting. What do you think?

This year it was much fun. My best friends were also in the backing vocals and we are also friends with the singer, Sanna, so it was two weeks of fun and party. We also had time to relax a bit, just sit by the water and have a beer and smørrebrød. We were also standing on the side of the stage doing the backing vocals, in the dark, so we didn’t have any staging either. But being on stage we could enjoy the whole crowd, the reaction and all. It was impressive.

How was the voting? I remember it was very exciting for me, I wanted Conchita to win but I would have also been fine with Sweden winning this year…

The voting was very thrilling. I think it was a great success for Conchita. I have been in situations where you think maybe we have a chance but then you get no votes at all. She was one of the favourite and it worked out. And it was also fun. We were sitting right behind Austria, so we started this thing called “slaska” in Swedish, when you do stuff in the background of the person that is being filmed. So everybody was shouting “don’t slaska!”, so I thought well, if they don’t show us in the frame then no problem. But then Austria started to get all the points, and we were behind, so if you see it again we were shouting “Slaska! Slaska!” It was very funny … Fun at work! [and here is the proof]

Haha! That is important. So see you in Vienna maybe next year?

Let’s see if I get the chance to be there! It will depend on the Roxette tour and the artist that represents Sweden.

Were you also at Melodifestivalen when Sanna won?

No, I wasn’t this year. After Sanna won she called me and asked me if I wanted to join her at the Song Contest. So, of course, I said YES!

You work with many Swedish artists and are always surrounded by music. Who are your favourite artists? What kind of music do you usually listen to?

If you look at my playlists in Spotify, you will see that I usually listen to male singers where there is lots of focus on the music. I don’t really listen to Beyonce or Celine Dion, for example, I am more of a dreamer when it comes to music. It’s of course cool to listen to such singers and what they can do with their voice, but I look for the emotion when I listen to music. So I like Bon Iver, for example, indie crazy horns, lots of stuff going on in one song.

From the Swedish artists… of course, Roxette will always be very important for the Swedish music, and their story is an inspiration. And then Lisa Nilsson, also what she says between the songs, her thoughts. I think the older you get, the more important it becomes what the artist has to say, the message of the songs.

I think Spotify is a great tool for discovering new music. Do you like to listen to new music or do you stick to your favourite known artists?

I try to listen to new stuff all the time. Since many of my friends are in the music business too, I am always surrounded by music, always getting new inputs. And Sweden is also very productive music-wise, so there’s always something going on. I live and breathe music all the time.

The first thing I do in the morning is to put on music, I use the radio function of Spotify a lot, you choose an artist and then you also get to listen to related to the artist or style, I think it’s a great way of listening to music. Then I either play music myself or I rehearse for something, it’s always new music that I need to learn for my job.

And what inspires you when you make music?

Number one: nature. And then love. Those are the two strongest inspirations. I was born in the countryside, so whenever I am off I go there. I go to the forest or to the sea, and then you realize how small we are, it gives the perspective of everything, and makes me very grounded. So whatever you do in your life, big or small achievements, when you are there you realize you are just a small part of the huge universe. That is important for me, very healing too. And then love, you know, whether happy or sad, those feelings are very strong and inspire you.

You mentioned that going out to the nature is healing, and you said before that the EP is kind of meditative. Do you practice meditation too?

I am not like meditating sitting still for half an hour or so. But I think I am always meditating, my father taught me to stop and just listen, or look at something, take your time, be aware of what’s around you.

IMG_0010-2This sounds very much like me… I think you are also a Pisces, aren’t you?

Yes! So you know what I mean.

Yes I do! And music is just a very important part of my life too. Even though I don’t play any instrument, I felt very much the same when you said you breathe music. I cannot go one day without music. And I need to get out to the nature as much as possible, thinking, mind what’s around, look inwards…

That’s it! If you want to put a word to that, it should be mindfulness. I think I’ve always done a little bit, even when I was in the States, I rented this loft up in the Canyon and after the shows I drove like 40 minutes through the desert, I came up to this place with this big fireplace and I just sat there, thinking about stuff. I think balance is important. And it was important to get out of Las Vegas after the show and find some silence and be with myself.

Did you have time to do some tourism while you were there?

Oh yes. My boyfriend at that time and I did a road trip from New York to Los Angeles across the whole country. He is from LA but lived in NY. We stopped at huge camp sites, they are beautiful, in Colorado, Utah… compared to those Swedish campsites are tiny. You don’t really see other people there.

Then when I lived in Las Vegas I drove quite often to LA; that is a nice 4-hour drive. We also went to Utah as often as we could to see the beautiful nature there; all the natural parks there are amazing.

But the country is so big, there are many places still left to see. You can drive for hours and not meet anyone; you don’t want to get a flat tire there! Once a friend and I went to Tecopa, a place in the middle of nowhere. We met a sheriff at the gas station on the way and he asked us where we were going, you know, two ladies alone… when we told him we were going there he was like “are you sure you want to go there?”, he said something about no people drive there, shootings… but we did it in the end. That’s what makes life fun too. It’s a bit risky but… it felt good afterwards.

You have also toured Sweden many times; do you also take time to do some tourism in your country? Or other parts of Scandinavia?

Yes, been touring Sweden for 15 years, so yes, I know a lot of nice places. And then you come back to cities and you know that restaurant or pub here and there and realize the changes. The last years I also toured a lot in Norway with some Norwegian bands, it’s just so beautiful. Have you been there?


You should! It’s so different, beautiful.

It’s on the to-do list. If Roxette plays there next year I may go there. I love to combine music, photography and travelling. You take some days to visit the places around and then you have a nice evening with great music and friends. Is it the same for you? Besides the fact that you are working in the evenings…

Indeed, and that is great. That’s also the reason I love my job, the combination of visiting new places, meeting new people and music. What else can one ask for? I think photographing is very fun too and I try to do it on tour as well. I am always walking, not rushing or running, because I need to stop and take pictures all the time! If you check out my account on Instagram you will see it’s mostly nature. I also think it’s always fun to see pictures from the concerts.

USA, Scandinavia… What other countries or regions do you like?

Iceland, for example. I haven’t played there but I just went on a four-day trip there, rented a car and visited some horse farms. Beautiful! Waterfalls everywhere, you don’t even know they exist, you just turn around the corner and there is another one. I want to go back there sometime soon, maybe next summer. It shouldn’t matter so much when, I heard that the weather is about 10-15 all the time… What I didn’t manage to see were northern lights, have you ever seen them?

No. When I was in Luleå and Umeå in April to see Marie live we tried to, even though it was quite cloudy in the evenings we drove like 30 minutes away from the city but we weren’t lucky…

I also would love to see them, it’s also on my to-do list! In Iceland they also have lots of northern lights too, so I hope I get to see them one day! I heard from some friends who have seen them and of course seen many pictures, but this is something you have to see yourself.

Do you also try to get out to the nature when you are in a country on tour?

Yes, and I am very much looking forward to New Zealand. People say that Iceland and New Zealand are similar, so I hope it works out this time, since last time when we toured with Roxette the concert was cancelled. I heard so many great things about it.

And then, for example, when I was in Chile I arranged a trip to a horse farm and went out riding in the Andes. For me such trips out in the nature are what stay in my memories. Sure visiting cities, Vancouver is different, or Sao Paolo, the buildings are different, the vibe and all, but I get more out of it if I get to see the nature around. That’s what I always try. I am always like “c’mon Pelle, let’s go riding with me!” I will try to get them to join me riding this time, let’s see if I succeed, haha!

I hope to see a bit more of the world this time. Last time everything was so new and I wanted to stay focused and concentrated on Roxette, what I had to do on stage, learn the songs and lyrics etc. But I think this time will be a bit more relaxed, I already know some of the lyrics and the band…

You talked about horse farms and riding horses. When did you learn to ride a horse?

I grew up with it. My father raises horses, so I’ve always been around them. We have a lot of Icelandic horses in our farm now. Amazing creatures. That’s also something I loved in Iceland, horses everywhere, just like that. Icelandic horses have more fur and longer eyelashes. Love horses. So I also hope to see some horses during the tour!

So you like nature and animals, do you have any pets?

No, since I am travelling so much I would always have to find somebody to take care of them… would be complicated. But I really enjoy my father’s horses and my mum’s dogs, so it’s perfect. And my neighbours have two cats. So I have it all around me but they are not mine.

Sometimes you have to do those sacrifices to live the life you want. The good life. I have two homes, here and in the countryside South of Sweden, then all the travelling, meeting interesting people all the time, surrounded by creative people makes my life exciting. I just talked to my father about this. He feels like he is just surrounded by people with problems and heavy weight on the people around him, and I thought I am so lucky to have so many people who have so many ideas and making them come true. Someone like Per, for example, he is very inspiring. He thinks of something and then he makes him happen in a brilliant way. I always tell him he inspires me so much.

And now you have done something yourself, the EP, and may be inspiring somebody too…

Maybe… It helps to have this environment around. It’s either people who motivate you to do something or who are doing the same thing, so it feels like nothing is impossible. I think that if you are not surrounded by people who have the spirit you also don’t feel inspired yourself either. I feel rich like that, being surrounded by all this.

You said that you love music, but is there any music you don’t like at all or you wouldn’t sing?

I am not really into death metal. Not really my thing… I was in a festival while touring with Orup, and there was this band called Testament, I was looking at them from the side, getting eye contact with the drummer and I got scared, he was looking at me with the weirdest look. And next day we flew on the same plane, so I looked at them, wondering if they were OK, or if they had so much anger in their lives…

But I listen to almost all music. As a back-up singer you also get into many styles, so I always have to find the good in all music styles. Maybe I don’t like the song but the way of singing or I can do something fun here or there. I feel so lucky to be able to work with so many artists and different styles, I think I am very versatile with my voice and I can adapt to different styles. That has been my strength I think.

Roxette and upcoming tour

You joined the Roxette band in 2012 in Australia. We did an interview before the tour started and you mentioned you hadn’t met the band yet, but looking at pictures and videos from Australian concerts you seemed to become part of the “Rox family” very quickly…

Yes, I joined in January 2012. I was a bit nervous because I hadn’t met any of the guys in the band before, just Per and Marie. I rehearsed at home on my own and suddenly I was on stage with all the band and lights in Australia… Interesting experience, but it worked out! I have to say that everybody is so nice, it’s hard not to become part of it quickly!

And how is it now, after touring with them for almost a year, do you meet the other guys in the band in between?

Yeah, I went to Christoffer’s a couple of times and I met Magnus when I participated in the Eurovision. We stayed in Malmö and my hotel was next to his place, so we were like waving through the window. Isn’t that crazy? Pelle and I live almost on the same street so sometimes we run into each other, at the supermarket or so.

You toured with many Swedish artists before and also in the States in very big shows. What would you say is the biggest difference between all these bands and Roxette?

I think it’s just a magical story. It’s just amazing to see how big they are around the world. Not many bands can ever experience what they did, and still do. And to be a part of that is just amazing. I am very proud to be able to say I was part of that tour. It’s a great experience. And now we are doing it all again! Amazing!

Amazing and positive crazy! Per is currently promoting the Per Gessle Archives box and the two books…and he recently mentioned that the tour will go on until 2016 if all goes as planned… let’s start saving!

Haha! So it’s also a lot of touring for you too! Are you going to come to Russia?

No. I am probably going to Finland, I think many “hard-core” fans are going to Finland and also to some of the Baltic countries. Not sure about Russia.

Great, we will see many familiar faces at the concerts. That is also a very special thing about touring with Roxette, the fan base is like a huge family; it’s always nice to see you all. Like I met lots of fans at Cirkus when Marie played there earlier this year. That was fun.

That was a great tour. It was very relaxed because it was seated, and we sometimes met the band at the pub after the shows, or simply had a drink with friends. Loved it. Hope this tour will be similar.

I have the feeling it’s a big party for you too. You realize that many people met because of Roxette and became couples or stayed friends for many years now. That is a very nice feeling.

Did you start rehearsing for the tour already?

I have on my own, especially the lyrics that I need to learn. I try to do a few songs every day, you know, with all the hits it’s quite a lot to go through. We start rehearsals with the band soon too. It’s going to be fun to meet every body again here in Stockholm!

You mentioned Per is an inspiration for you, how about Marie?

Love her! How can you not! She’s so warm, takes you in, and appreciates what you do. Many artists don’t, they just assume that you are there doing your backing vocals. I can feel with Marie that she really appreciates what you do and that makes you want to give even more. I want to be prepared, want to know all the lyrics perfectly etc. I also try to just fit to her voice when we sing together. And it just happens naturally.

I think this is a very special setup where everybody can bring a bit of his/her personality into it. It’s very different personalities but put together the result is something amazing…

Yes, that’s true. Everybody is so nice, and everybody is so different and can bring in a bit of him/herself. Also the subjects that we talk about, like for example, when I talk to Christoffer it’s about environment, social stuff, or with Magnus about music. I think everybody is looking forward to the tour. Of course, they miss their kids and families, but in general it’s a great experience. The tour is arranged so that everybody can meet the family in between. I am the only one who doesn’t have my own family so it isn’t that bad for me.

Future plans

What are your plans for the future, besides the Roxette tour and the EP?

I have this Nils Landgren concert at the Blue Hall in Stadshuset and at the Konserthuset, so I do two concerts with Nils on the same day. That’s going to be fun. There will be a big choir for one of the songs too, I am doing the arrangements for about 200 people. I have never done this, I was just asked if I wanted to do it and I was like… “Yeah….? That would be fun” Haha! I am just doing my best and I hope to remember it as a positive experience.

In December when we are home again I will join Jul Galan in Stockholm. I am not sure with which artists, they have so many this year and different versions too. It’s a big show at Friends arena. I think Timbuktu is also going to be there, that is going to be fun, he really communicates with the audience. And my friend Britta will also be there with me doing the backing vocals. Fun at work!

Ah, must be something similar to what I saw last year with Eva Dahlgren, Orup, Ola Salo and Sarah Dawn Finer at Globen, with dinner and drinks and all.

Yes, there are lots of these kind of shows before Christmas in Sweden. There are different packages with dinner and different stuff. The Jul Galan is with a big band on stage, lots of strings. It’s going to be fun! And Sarah is a friend of mine! We go way back, she started very early and I have done some small gigs with her.

It feels like in Sweden everybody knows and has worked with everybody, haha!

Haha, yes, it’s a big but small family, like a clique even. And there are many young talents coming up now. Since I do lots of TV I meet these too, and then I get to do some backing vocals for hip-hop or alike… It’s fun because it keeps me young too. You mentioned you were going to see Peter Jöback tonight, I worked with him too!

He is amazing. You should go and see the musical “Livet är en schlager”.

I will if I have time! I am going to see another musical tonight, Evita. One of my childhood friends plays the lead role in the musical, and it’s the premiere tonight. Looking forward to it!

You mean Charlotte Perrelli?

Yes! You know her too?

Of course! Mostly from Eurovision… “Take me to your heaven”, “Hero”…

Haha! Cool! We are going home to her after the show and have some drinks. She lives close to Marie. Just as an anecdote: when I was meeting Marie and Per for the first time and trying out if we could work together before joining Roxette on tour I stayed at her place, so I just walked over to Marie’s place… Life is funny sometimes.

So, all in all, those are my plans for the next months and for tonight.

Cool. Have fun tonight. Thank you so much for your time! And good luck with the album and all the other projects.

Here you can purchase or listen to Dea’s EP “Storm”:

Physical: CDBaby (worldwide shipping) | | | |
Digital: iTunes | Spotify | Amazon