By Geoffrey Rowlands
Pick a hair colour and it may well have been sported by Norwegian singer / songwriter Ina Wroldsen. Black, auburn, black with a blonde streak, these are just some of the colours which have given the naturally blonde Ina a seemingly ever-changing look.
It’s tempting to suggest she has had as many hair colours as hit records but it would be wildly inaccurate to do so. Ina is very possibly the most successful songwriter of whom only few people have ever heard.
Her songs permeate the charts. She has written or co-written a host of smash hit tracks for artists such as The Saturdays, Professor Green and The Wanted in addition to chart-topping hits for Jess Glynne, James Arthur and Clean Bandit.
Despite all her success, Ina did not set out to become a songwriter. Her intention was to be a performing artist who also wrote her own songs. When the big hits failed to materialise, Ina thought writing for others might be a more profitable line of work.
“I always still regarded myself as a performer,” she remarked. “I’d always written songs. The only difference now was I wrote specifically with other artists in mind rather than myself.”
Not content to make her mark on the Scandinavian music scene, Sandefjord-born Ina left her native Norway to take up residence in London.
“I just figured if I was going to make a good career for myself as a songwriter, London was the place to be.
“With every respect to Scandinavian artists, it’s only a small music market. Apart from those who become widely known through the Eurovision Song Contest, virtually all of the Scandinavian artists who became internationally famous did so with breakthrough records in the UK. By living in London, I was in the position to pitch my songs to major artists.”
The extent of Ina’s songwriting success allowed her the freedom to reignite her career as a performer. She initially joined forces with Iceland-born but Sweden-based producer and songwriter Arnthor Birgisson to form electropop duo Ask Embla. Their album, Northern Lights, was issued in 2013.
Ina then released two singles under her own name, Aliens (Her er Jeg) and Rebels, which didn’t fare too well. But she co-wrote and performed uncredited vocals on the 2015 Calvin Harris and Disciples world-wide smash, How Deep Is Your Love. This led to other successful collaborations with artists such as Chris Loco, Sigma, Kat Krazy, Martin Solveig and Broiler.
Record labels noted Ina’s vocal quality and deals were offered. She decided to sign with Simon Cowell’s Syco Music label last June.
“I was very excited about starting this venture into a new chapter in my life. I was particularly happy about getting to do this by working with the incredible team of people at Syco.”
Ina has since been creating the songs which will appear on her debut album. Her first single for Syco, Strongest, was released in October and proved hugely popular in her native land where it peaked at number two.
“It’s a personal song in the sense that it’s about a good friend of mine. It deals with heartbreak, a lost love and moving forward with her son. Her situation is hard and bitter but also genuine and triumphant.”
Ina also continues to collaborate with other artists. She is currently riding high in the U.K. chart as the featured vocalist on “Breathe,” the latest single from English DJ / producer Jax Jones.
“He has been incredibly complimentary in the things he has said about working with me. He even described it as a dream come true. I can only say the same sort of things about working with him. The whole writing and recording process was a wonderful experience.
“I’ve always enjoyed collaborations. That’s why so many of my songs are co-written with other people. This probably stems from my very early years in the business when I worked with the Norwegian songwriters and producers Espionage and Stargate.
“Espionage were particularly influential. I was only 14 or 15 and they not only helped my development as a songwriter but also with my English accent and use of the language. I learned so much from them. They can certainly take credit for much of the success I enjoy today.”
April 6 will see the release of Golden, the 14th studio album from Australian superstar singer and actress Kylie Minogue.
Out now though is the lead single, Dancing. It marks a departure for Kylie from her usual electronic dance sound. She spent time in Nashville while creating the songs for her album and the country music influence is clearly evident in her new single.
Country pop with influences of electronica and electropop is how critics have described the song. Not that any critics have derided Kylie’s change of style. Quite the reverse. Dancing has received almost universal critical acclaim with some suggesting the song may well become a Kylie classic.
Kylie herself could hardly be happier with the track.
“It’s got the lyrical edge and country feel mixed with some sampling of the voice and electronic elements. I love that it’s called Dancing. It’s immediately accessible and seemingly so obvious but there is a depth within the song.
“It’s about removing hurdles in life by dancing and having a good time. Life is all just moments which join up. Some of them are great and some are less than sparkling. Ultimately, I wanted the video for Dancing to reflect the celebratory nature of the song.”
The video is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BDImdAfodA. The choreography also reflects the country music influence in Dancing. It proved trickier than Kylie had anticipated.
“I always thought I could learn routines quickly but this was different. I’d finally mastered it by the time I had to dance with a guy dressed as the Grim Reaper at the end. If that’s not a funny allegory for life, I don’t know what is!”
Little was known about Rhye before the release of their 2013 debut album, Woman. A few songs were posted online but there was no background information or contact details.
Only after the album proved popular did Canadian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michael Milosh and Danish musician / producer Robin Hannibal reveal their identities and perform a concert tour.
Apart from collaboration with Bonobo last year, nothing more has been heard from Rhye. The main reasons for this lie in events away from the recording studio. There has been a change of record label and a change in personnel. Robin has quit the partnership leaving Michael to continue under the group name but effectively as a solo artist.
Released last Friday, BLOOD is Rhye’s sophomore album. Despite the ending of his four-year marriage to actress Alexa Nikolas, as well as his musical relationship, Michael insists the new album is not a break up record.
“There is a lot of optimism in the album tracks. There are songs about falling in love with someone new, rediscovering myself and moving on with life in general. It also ties into the trials and tribulations of the music industry.
“Some of the melodies might sound a little sad, but I think that’s just my nature. Ultimately, it’s joyous and embracing the future.”
The video for single, Taste, is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVyhCvXc-a4. A dance video for the track can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqgF6BpjChA.
A lyric video for Song For You is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlDSG8gEuxo.
The video for new single, Count To Five, is available to view at www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG03LvWb3kQ.
Stone Temple Pilots
Former Dry Cel vocalist Jeff Gutt has become the new lead singer for American rock band Stone Temple Pilots.
Jeff inherits the mantle previously held by deceased vocalists Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington. Fans will hear their new singer on Stone Temple Pilots’ self-titled seventh studio album which is scheduled for release on March 16.
Lead single, Meadow, was issued last November. A hit on the Billboard rock charts, the official video is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnPfbMs9Ow8.
An audio posting of second single, Roll Me Under, can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=weG9H011Kxo. A video for the song has been posted on the December Hotel website. It can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCiBTmG8WJ4.
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