Melding indie-pop with progressive rock and folk, Norwegian singer-songwriter Petter Carlsen has developed a unique sound for the masses. We speak with him about his latest album The Sum of Every Shade, animal reincarnations, Covid-19 and much more!
OSR: What is the backstory to The Sum of Every Shade?
Carlsen: The title of the album came to me pretty early in the process. It expands the frame of the album. Everything was suddenly allowed. The title allowed me to stretch out the sounds and ideas making it my most diverse and exciting record to date. It has a lot of different shades. The goal was to bring in all my different sides as a vocalist and composer in one album. From folk to prog, from drum machines to hard rock, it’s my view of and observations of the world. Thoughts that had to be put on paper.
OSR: Did you face any challenges during the writing and recording process?
Carlsen: Yes, doubt is always a companion. Sometimes I doubted things, but then we sat back and let it rest. I have travelled a lot back and forth from Alta to Tromsø, so it has been a session-based production. That way we could let things mature and then get back to it with fresh ears and minds. I also announced (to myself and to the world) that the album was done far too early. I had to step back and think realising that the puzzle missed two pieces. So, we got back together (me and producer Kristian S. Olstad) writing two more songs to complete it. Now I feel that it is complete.
OSR: If you could change one thing about The Sum of Every Shade what would it be?
Carlsen: I don’t think there is anything I want to change, at least not at the minute. It is what it is and I want to move on to the next projects.
OSR: Do you have a favourite track on the album?
Carlsen: Right now, I have to say ‘Giraffes & Elephants’, but those things change over time I guess. That song was the last we wrote (me and Olstad) for the album and we wrote the lyrics together. It became a duet with him singing the first verse. He doesn’t sing too often, at least on a mellow song like this. I persuaded him to sing the first verse and he did it in one take; it moved me deeply. That’s perhaps why it’s my favourite at the minute.
OSR: Described The Sum of Every Shade in a single word.
OSR: What inspires you to make music?
Carlsen: Observing the world from the edge of it. It is beautiful and also a mess at times. It’s both micro and macro.
OSR: How has Covid-19 affected your life as a professional (recording, writing, etc)?
Carlsen: It has obviously had a deep impact on me as for everyone; however, the recording and writing part has been enhanced by it somehow. It gave me the chance to sit down and take things slow and steady. I don’t think I have ever written more music in a short period of time than the last seven months.
One the live side, it’s been poorer though as a lot of my gigs this year have been cancelled. It has been worrying and a struggle on the economic side of things. It makes me sad to see so many people struggle to eventually leave the business and even more to see that it has such a major negative impact on people’s personal health and lives.
OSR: What advice do you have for independent artists in 2020?
Carlsen: Good question. Do what comes from within and don’t let others take over or tell you how to roll. In 2020 it’s hard to give advice as this situation is brand new to us all. We have to cooperate and hang in there.
OSR: If you were an animal what animal would you be?
Carlsen: An eagle – good (over)view and on top of the food chain. 😁
OSR: What is your favourite smell?
Carlsen: A lawn with newly cut grass. It’s a very nostalgic and nice smell.
OSR: Do you have any future plans?
Carlsen: Yes, loads! A lot of music in various bands and projects. My next focus is making an album with Daniel Cardoso (Anathema). We have a duo called North South and have released one song so far. The rest is coming in the not so distant future. I have also recently recorded new sounds with my hard-rock duo called Pil & Bue. I guess the album will see the light of day sometime during 2021. On the personal side, see my son grow and spend time with my family and friends.