Oslo songstress Ellen Sundes is simultaneously a wallflower and a force to be reckoned with, meet Sea Change.
To be in a perpetual stage of change. That’s the premier goal of Oslo-born Ellen Sundes, the voice behind Sea Change. A beautifully capricious songstress, at once a retiring wall flower and an ambitious force to be reckoned with, her dreamy music recasts itself even as it finds its way to your ears. Ellen’s upcoming album ‘Breakage’ stems ultimately from an all-encompassing urge to make music. Having attempted to stay the path of a more conventionally academic training, she found herself sitting in a lecture thinking ‘what the hell am I doing here?!’ (a feeling we’re sure all students in existential crisis can sympathise with), and has spent her time ever since exploring her musical calling, intent upon casting off the bonds of self-censorship and creative restraint.
The favourite track of the album, ‘Squares’, combines her characteristically fluid synths and keyboards with a more regimented beat peculiar to the track. It’s a song in two parts, the dual sound hazily reflecting it’s core message about the choices we make and where those choices might take us. We talk to Ellen about making art, arrogant jazz musicians, and walking paths that no one has walked before.
Where did the name Sea Change come from?
Sea Change comes from an urge to make music and art that always is in a change. I thought that symbolized how I want my music to be.
I know my next album will be different from this, and the next after that. This project is an on going process.
What made you decide to go into music?
I went to a study-specialised high school for music, dance and drama because I loved to sing, but also because that was a great opportunity to move away from home and get away from my small home town were I had no friends. After 3 years in that high school I was really sick of all the music theory and the arrogant jazz people in my class. So I decided to start on the university and just do something completely different for a year. But early in the first semester it was just like something was nagging in me. I was sitting in the auditorium alongside 200 students listening to a culture/religion lecture and thought: – What the hell am I doing here? I need to make music! So I started studying music and studio production instead. However it took some time before I had the courage to share my music.
What inspires you to write and create?
Everything. It is an urge in me. Something that I cannot stop.
What do you prefer – being in the studio or putting on a live show?
I do enjoy both. In studio there is so much time to experiment and do everything that feels good in the moment. Try and fail. Try and succeed. Its a place with just free creativity. However I also get a lot of energy by performing on stage. To get a feeling of which songs that resonance in other people, and experience that someone actually have listened to you work. Its just amazing! And all the wonderful people you meet. But the traveling is pretty exhausting.
In your own words, you’ve spent too much time being shy about your music, what made you decide to put it out publicly and share it with the world?
I realised that being afraid of what people would think wouldn’t get me anywhere. And I learned that its close to impossible to be completely happy with your work. I wanted people to know what I was doing. I realized I just needed to jump into it, so I created this project Sea Change, and just went for it. For some reason I found it easier to do it by myself and not be in collaboration. I don’t know. I’ve always been like that. Needed to do things alone. But I didn’t wanna write only for myself, I wanted people to hear it. Of course it has something to with honor. I want people to think the best of me. As everyone else.
Do you have a favourite track on your upcoming album, is there a song that seems to particularly resonate with audiences?
One of my personal favourites is ‘Stairs’. It’s a song in two parts. One strict and beatsy and the other dreamy. It’s a very personal song about what choices you make and what happens if you make them. And the place between what you wanna do, and what you should be doing.
How do you feel about comparisons made between yourself and iamamiwhoami/Lykke Li?
I’m not that familliar with any of their work actually. The first time I even heard about iamiwhoami was actually reading a review of one of my own singles. I checked her out. It was good! I don’t really mind people coming up with different comparisons. I just find it interesting what people hear in my music. Sometimes it’s something that I’ve never thought about before and I love that!
How would you describe your music yourself?
Exploring, explorable.. if that’s a word?
Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with?
Sure, a lot of people. Maybe Kanye West, or Röyksopp or Todd Terje.
What’s your overall musical goal?
It sounds pretensious, but I really want to make something absolutely astonishing, that will stand and be as fresh as anything ten years later.
Like Fever Ray’s album for example. Just pure magic, walking paths that no one has walked before. That’s what I wanna do. I want a long career in music making some great albums, and also making film music. I actually also want to make a film, or manuscripts for films, but that is far in the future.
‘Squares’ the latest single by Sea Change is out now.