February 2006 saw Elvira Nikolaisen debuting at music industry event by:Larm in Tromsø. The SonyBmg artist’s gigs were among the event’s most anticipated, and Elvira rose to the occasion and delivered the goods; domestic media declared her one of the true “winners” of by:Larm. Wrote Norwegian daily Dagbladet: ‘Elvira Nikolaisen is well on her way to the premier division of Norwegian pop music.’
The 25-year-old has been predicted to become one of the protagonists on the Norwegian music and media scene in 2006, and months ahead of here solo record debut –to be released in march- her name and face have become favourite pop-cultural “items”.
Norway’s most blooming musical family
This also owes to the fact that her upcoming record is but the latest issue from Norway’s most blooming musical family. Her brothers’ endeavours include the award-winning band Silver, and another of the expectedly really big names of 2006: Serena Maneesh.
However, the exploits of the Nikolaisen family have been sufficiently exposed elsewhere, so let us instead have a closer look at the big sister, whom record companies fought to sign during some hectic months of 2005.
Her motion towards the locus of attention has not been swift, and, as has become clear, for good reasons. For this is an artist with a sense of utmost reverence and thus responsibility towards music itself. She confesses that music is indeed sacred to her, and her commitment is such that one senses immediately that here is something worth paying special attention to.
But at the same time she has an attitude that made the labels court her in polyphony: professionalism, “realism” and true commercial aspirations.
This attitude is the reason we should perhaps be happy that Elvira declined an interview. She was finishing the mixing of her anticipated first album, in secluded concentration with her trusted producer Knut Schreiner. (The latter, aka Euroboy of Turbonegro fame, we deem, needs no further introduction.) And focus at this stage is paramount, for after a long process it is easy to loose touch with the true goal of the whole undertaking and become restless, or worse: uncritically self-indulgent.
As Elvira has explained previously, she regards one of the most important considerations in the mixing process to be resisting the temptation of including artistic whims and visions that belong to that secluded atmosphere, and instead actively take up the part of being “audience”. Because, she says, it is easy to think that a certain detail will lift a song in the sense of making it more interesting and more musically innovative, but Knut and I agree that this is not the aim of finalizing a song. We both think that it is quite the opposite frame of mind that should steer the mixing, i.e. that the job at that stage is to make a song attractive to as many people as possible. In this sense we share a business-like, manipulative vein, and that is one of the reasons why working with Knut was what I wanted from the start.
Many artists have erroneously refused this commercial responsibility, and as a result seen their music become transformed and, as the cliché goes, “corrupted” by their record company (or some other malefactor.)
Elvira explains that her experience with her record company (SonyBmg Norway), chosen after careful consideration, has been the opposite. The resources made available entailed avoiding, instead of falling pray to, compromise. Because she was able to carefully choose a producer who could work with her all the way, and who would share the drive to make fragile, personal expressions robust, audience friendly, and ultimately popular.
A commitment to music itself
To profess brazenly that popularity is indeed the aim of something so essentially personal takes a lot of courage and realism in the conception of the parameters of art.
In this respect Elvira differs from many artists, for it is so much easier to say that the responsibility for popularity is incompatible with a true personal expression. And maybe this is why there are such great expectations to this young prodigious singer and songwriter: She is serious enough to openly admit that she always wants to do one better and be recognised for it.
And when she shares here experience of song-writing and the importance of music in her life, it becomes apparent that her professional attitude has its roots in a profound commitment to music and not some disposition to superfluous people-pleasing.
She says of her bond to music that it is of a spiritual character; that she strives to be a medium and mouthpiece for a realm of mystery and deep meaning -the realm of music- which in her enchanting conception lives an autonomous life of its own.
At the same time she conceives of writing songs as hard and prolonged industry, all the way to the mastering process. And this is an effort precisely to do justice to the initial essential spirituality; to not let that epiphany slip and become private, but to carry it through and share it.
Again, these are signs of unusual commitment to music itself.
Elvira Nikolaisen summed up:
26 year old singer/songwriter set to debut in March 2006 with her first album that will be released by SonyBMG Norway
Sister of Serena Maneesh’s Emil and Hilma as well as Silver’s Ivar Nikolaisen
Her first single Love Can’t Defend has seen extensive domestic radio-play since its release in December
Her first domestic tour is scheduled for March 2006
Sony BMG Norway AS (Record Companies)
Elvira Nikolaisen, Artist