Scandi ace dishing up icy and euphoric pop, including her worldwide megahit ‘Backbeat’
Dagny Norvoll Sandvik hadn’t planned to be a pop star, even though music is in her blood. Her mum (singer Marit Sandvik) and dad (jazz musician Øystein Norvoll) raised her in an “open and free-spirited” household in the small, arty town of Tromsø in northern Norway. She studied music at school and “grew up always falling asleep with music
on in the living room, with musicians coming and going” from her house.
Her parents’ spirit of collaboration wore off on her and she got involved in the local music scene, “touring and playing and having a good time” with like-minded people.
It was all pretty casual until 2011, when she sang on the slightly plodding ‘Run River Run’ for the Norwegian rock band Vishnu. But it wasn’t her true calling. “I grew up in the ’90s with The Spice Girls and The Backstreet Boys, who are just super-pop,” she says. “I used to work at this dark rock pub in northern Norway, but pop is my area. I always come back to pop.”
In 2012, aged 21, she moved to London. Here, she had fun, performed at shows and got creative. She plays acoustic guitar and when she wrote songs, “It was always the slightly more folksy stuff that naturally came out.”
Then she met Portsmouth songwriter Sam McCarthy – who wrote ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ with Harry Styles – at one of her shows and they started working together.
“He’s funny and unpretentious and we’d go into sessions and have a bottle of wine, and we were just kinda vibing stuff out,” she reveals. “We did some really weird stuff before we wrote ‘Backbeat’ – some, like, talking songs. Then suddenly ‘Backbeat’ came about. I knew there was something different about it. It felt bolder and got me excited. It’s more energetic and feels a bit more like me.”
Now, 20 million Spotify streams later, Dagny’s a star. One who “just wants to go up on stage and, you know, let loose”, one whose second track, wistful piano-led belter ‘Fool’s Gold’, is as good as her first, and one whose debut EP is coming out later this year.
Dagny’s life is about to change. There’s just one rule, she says: “I put no limits on it.”