Oh Land – world-straddling pop from one sickeningly beautiful Dane
Like a sigh for the familiarity of solid ground, Oh Land’s the perfect nom de plume for nomadic Danish pop export Nanna Øland Fabricius. It’s hard to be a rebellious kid when your parents are arty liberals like hers – respectively an opera singer (ma) and an organist (pa), responsible for Nanna’s “fantastical patchwork childhood where the dressers in the opera house babysat me” – but as a teenager, she upped and left her eccentric family on the outskirts of Copenhagen to go and study ballet in Sweden, without knowing a word of the language.
“My parents couldn’t stop me, so I moved alone to Stockholm when I was 16 and lived in the forest,” Nanna explains. “I couldn’t even boil an egg!”
It was a mixture of chronic bad luck and glittering fortune that got her here, on the cusp of releasing her first, self-titled album in the UK – following a critically acclaimed but overlooked debut, ‘Fauna’, that was only released in her homeland.
That record was written after a slipped disc forced her to quit dancing, leaving her “totally devastated” and supine for months. It was then that songwriting “became my way of still moving and expressing myself without actually physically moving,” says the arrestingly gorgeous Nanna, fiddling with the ends of her hair.
‘Fauna’ led to a SXSW showcase, and in turn, major labels gagging to lay claim to her. The world she now inhabits isn’t far from the glamour of the opera house wings: living in Brooklyn, working on collaborations with Magnetic Man (she’s a dubstep nerd) and hobnobbing with her management company boss Elton John at his fabled Christmas party. The difference is, with a handful of aces in the form of the rhythmically sparkling, theatrical, intricate pop that makes up ‘Oh Land’, she’s no longer left in the dressing room.
“I’ve been writing about that position in life when you never know where you are,” she explains in her pristine fourth language. With touring the world on the horizon, home is in a suitcase for now. But there’s little doubt Nanna’s place in classy pop history is being forged before our eyes.
Need To Know
• Nanna likes to daub her face with lip gloss then dunk it in glitter
• She regularly records sounds on the street and turns them into beats for her songs
• Live – and like her collaborators Magnetic Man- Nanna plays a massive fort that triggers light projections and synth gizmoids
This article originally appeared in the February 12th issue of NME