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Susanne Sundfør

Susanne Sundfør is a Norwegian singer/songwriter whose consistently inventive mixture of experimental pop, chamber folk, electronica, jazz, and classical music have garnered widespread acclaim in her home country and parts of Europe. Moving between a more organic, piano-led style and expansive synth pop, she topped the Norwegian charts with 2010's The Brothel, a feat she would repeat on her next three albums. 2015's ambitious Ten Love Songs is considered her breakout effort and crossed over onto the U.K. charts. During this period, Sundfør forged an ongoing collaboration with electronic duo Röyksopp and was featured on several of their songs. Meanwhile, her own music became sparser and more folk-based on 2017's Music for People in Trouble. Sundfør's sixth album, Blómi, arrived in 2023, signaling yet another shift, this time toward a pastiche of jazz, classical, and deftly arranged pop with a strong philosophical bent. Born in the seaside city of Haugesund, Sundfør began playing violin and piano as a child and eventually added singing lessons to her regimen. After high school she performed regionally and gained national notice in 2005 touring as the opener for British artist Tom McRae. She made her recorded debut in 2007 with an eponymous release on indie label, Your Favourite Music, which made a surprise run to number three on the pop charts. A live album featuring acoustic versions of her debut followed in 2008, coinciding with a Spellemannprisen (the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy) Award for Best Female Performance, which, upon accepting, she publicly spurned for the institution's use of gendered categories. After moving to Oslo, she signed with EMI and recorded her studio follow-up. Shifting away from the folk roots of her debut, 2010's The Brothel introduced a sleeker and more experimental electronic sound, reaching number one and going on to sell more copies than any other Norwegian release that year. Riding a wave of momentum, Sundfør released an all-instrumental side project, A Night at Salle Pleyel, in 2011, featuring music commissioned by the Oslo Jazzfestival for their 25th Anniversary celebration. Her third album, 2012's The Silicone Veil, revealed a growing sense of ambition with elements of Baroque pop and icy electronic music dominating the palette. It was also her second consecutive chart-topper. Later that year, Sundfør teamed up with veteran Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp, lending vocals to their song "Running to the Sea" and a cover of Depeche Mode's "Ice Machine." Among other collaborations during this period was "Oblivion" with French band M83, which appeared on the soundtrack to the science fiction film of the same name. Sundfør had already made some inroads in the U.K. with The Silicone Veil, but it was her fourth album, 2015's Ten Love Songs, that helped break her internationally. Released by Warner Norway, the ambitious set paired classical grandeur with frosty Nordic synth pop and lyrics exploring the darker, more violent side of passion and relationship. Another Norwegian number one, it was an overwhelming critical success, appearing on numerous year-end "best-of" lists while finding its way onto charts in the U.K. and Sweden. Additional collaborations with Röyksopp and M83 followed over the next year as Sundfør briefly relocated to London to write her next album. Largely abandoning the synth pop of her three previous outings, she returned to a more organic folk style on 2017's Music for People in Trouble, a haunting and anxious collection centered around her crystalline vocals and piano. Her fourth straight number one album, it was issued by U.K. label Bella Union and featured a guest appearance from American singer/songwriter John Grant on its last song, "Mountaineers." A year later Sundfør issued the accompanying concert LP Music for People in Trouble: Live from the Barbican, which was recorded in London. In 2022, she resumed her collaboration with Röyksopp as a featured vocalist for several songs from their massive three-album project Profound Mysteries. Her return to electronic music (via Röyksopp) was short-lived, however, as her next solo outing continued to favor experimental piano-led pop. Released in 2023, the wildly ambitious Blómi explored themes of love, loss, optimism, and rebirth against a soundtrack that touched on everything from gospel and soul to musique concrète and lush chamber pop. Alternating between English and Old Norse, Sundfør also included several spoken word sections musing about healing and spirituality.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo


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