The Copenhagen-based artist unveils her new single and chats with us about her music, her inspirations and her [many] alternative career paths.

Photography: Louise Hvas

Photography: Louise Hvas

Delivered in the same soft tones of a closing credits scene, thea wang’s latest track “Word On The Street” is the ultimate example of the artist’s soul-baring approach to songwriting. Offering her listeners a peek into the swirling pool of anxieties and worries she experiences, “Word On The Street” delivers a matter-of-fact dialogue surrounding mental health. Keeping her lyricism clean and her melodies symphonic, thea wang invites you inside her warm soundscape before you’ve even had a chance to take off your shoes.

Nonetheless, to assume that thea wang’s appeal is limited to the sombre would be a gross misconception. With some of her latest work showing off haunting and gritty tunes such as that in “Tell Me About It”, thea wang is every bit as empowering as she is empathetic.

To celebrate the release of “Word On The Street”, we got to know thea wang, her connection to folk-pop music and her experience moving to Copenhagen. Scroll below to stream the track and for the full interview…

Hey thea! How are you doing?
Finally releasing music! Also my friend literally just knocked at our door for a spontaneous visit, bringing ice-cream and chocolate while I was writing this. So today is good! 
Let’s start at the beginning, how did you first get into music?
I grew up in a family where the core was music, and I started singing in the local children’s choir which my mom and dad conducted at a very young age. I remember sitting at the floor in concerts, or listening to my parents sing, play bass and piano, uncles, aunts and cousins  performing on stage or just singing/playing in family gatherings. I guess it developed from there through violin and piano-lessons (which I sadly quit very early), more choir, my teacher Tone who encouraged my singing, music school, fargespill [an artistic organisation in Norway that produces stage performances with children and youngsters between the ages of 7 and 25 from all over the world], youth-big-bands, and songwriting! Our parents fed us with jazz, hymns, harmonies, and after some time I guess we all found our own voice and drive. 
Who would you say inspires you?
Many of the people I listen to and who inspire me the most are my friends (I can make u a list). Then also Adrienne Lenker – both her guitar playing and songwriting, Joni Mitchell of course, Bon Iver, and I also just attended a SASSY009 concert here in Oslo that was wicked. Lyrically I love the writing of Ann Carson in “Autobiography of Red” as well as John Fante’s “Ask the Dust”, and the visual artist Nalini Malani with her “rebellion of the dead: retrospective 1969-2018” installation. Everything that contains some form of energy, or story-telling that I can feel is real to the person doing it – inspires me. Doesn’t need to be pitch perfect as long as it contains some sort of energy. Not to forget MARO’s record “it’s ok” by her and andrew keller, that also inspired me to make this record. And so many more.
And what drew you to the folk-pop genre?
After I had been playing jazz and pop for a long time, I attended this singer-songwriter course at school with 4 other students that played guitar and sang, and I was really jeally of how easy it seemed for them. At the same time I was a bit tired of having to be dependent on others to accompany me or to sing my songs. I’m quite easily restless – and at that time I had a duo with a drummer where we played experimental synth-pop with reverb’y vocal called Daiisy. I really loved it, but also wanted to create songs in another soundscape, so I bought a guitar and started to practice through Joni Mitchell’s open tunings. Suddenly I had written ‘While He Is Still Asleep’ and from there it just evolved – while being on travel for some months and at the same time not being able to speak or sing, coincidences and new influences. A lot of stories were collected on those travels. I also started to play in august kann’s band and got inspired by how “bare” you could tell a story. I have also always loved making melodies, and learning the catchy rythmic lines in a great pop-song. I guess when adding a guitar and this story-telling lyrics to this, it naturally became this folk-pop universe. 
Do you think moving to Copenhagen affected your music writing at all? And if so, how?
I haven’t really thought about this, but I guess it did. Mostly maybe lyrically. While being abroad in a new country alone, and also inspired of how hard my peers worked with their music – and how they just released records with the blink of an eye. So yes! Also the music scene in the music academy in Copenhagen felt a bit more free in a way that people just make whatever music they love because they love it.
Congratulations on the release of “Word On The Street”! How did you personally resonate with this track?
Thank you! Being one of the songs I wrote the fall after moving to Copenhagen, after what felt like endless days of biking through rain and heavy wind and grey sky, getting used to being soaked, having to dry my shoes and pants on the window sill to leave school hours later with a squishy pond in my sneakers it has become a little time capsule… It feels like a still picture from that fall, which really felt like an endless state. To be alone in a new country was in the beginning wonderful and lonely at the same time. And as autumn entered the city with its weather, I wondered if I would ever feel like my happy self again, and not let the clouded thoughts get to me. It was then written in London around a kitchen table with my friend jørgen. I remember it being sunny with blue skies and that I felt like myself again. I guess I had an urge to write those feelings out and make it something concrete, outside my body or mind because the song sort of just fell out in an improv. When I returned to Copenhagen It sort of became a theme song to try to keep going through shitty days, or weather, and remember that it will pass. Or to accept the situation I was in. To try to not get affected by the weather or circumstances that I could do nothing about. 

What do you hope people take away from it?
I hope people will scream a bit while they’re biking. And that if someone feels like it has been raining for a long time, then it can maybe be a reminder that it almost always stops somehow. 
If you weren’t doing music, what do you think would be your alternative career path?
If I was not doing music I guess I would be a filmmaker, photographer or make documentaries. Second: a doctor – but not the ones who do surgery. Third: work in national television behind the scenes, with production. I love the creative environment of the people working there,  doing practical work where I don’t have to dive into the existential thoughts that circle through my brain on a daily basis, the project-based work and how little “screen” time it is compared to being a musician sometimes.  Or maybe something with natural science, or learn another language fluently like Italian or French and become a translator so I could travel more. Haha, ok I see now there are many things that I would love to do or learn, but I get very easily bored so it would have to be project based, and not a 9-5 job. If I feel too “locked in” I very easily escape. I guess I already do all of the above in a parallel multiverse, (yes I just watched the movie Everything, Everywhere, All At Once

And finally, what’s next for you? Do you have any goals for the near future?
Yes! Next there will be one more single and then the release of my debut album! Its all very exciting and surreal. I will also go on a little tour in Norway, and Denmark (and hopefully also in Germany or the UK) If anyone knows about somewhere I should play, send me a dm!! I’m also going on a Europe tour with AURORA this summer. Next goal after that is to manage to read more books, have a little vacation and then start creating and recording new music this fall. Walk a couple of mountains. Spend some more time in nature. 

Photography: Louise Hvas

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