Interview: Petter Carlsen

Norwegian singer-songwriter, Petter Carlsen, oozes beautifully atmospheric creations, filled with such emotive honesty they’re bound to sweep you off your feet. With the release of his third album – Sirens – earlier this year, Carlsen showcases his distinctive captivating vocals and majestic melodies, but with added electronic elements and uptempo rhythms. Claire Lim caught up with the man himself to find out more about the album.


Sirens is a really beautiful album – what inspired its unique sound?

Thank you. A girl, my guitar, my producer Wetle Holte, Bon Iver, King Crimson, Radiohead, Anathema, and lots of other pieces  of beautiful music. I feel at home in the sound of this album.

There are so many indie artists out there at the moment vying for the spotlight, what makes you different?

I think it’s my voice and my way of playing guitar

How different is the scene in Norway compared to the UK?

I don’t have enough knowledge to answer that, I feel. But I think it’s very different. Norway is a very small country.

What is it like to be an indie musician nowadays, with the advent of streaming sites like Spotify?

The income I get from Spotify is ridiculous. Still my music is present there. I don’t think it’s a good thing that music is free, but this is what happened. Some people buy albums to support the music they like, which is good. We’re in a transition in the industry now and many are working 24/7 to survive. Spotify has many listeners and people discover new music there. But the business model is not working well for smaller artists, unfortunately.

How important is it for you to ‘keep up your online presence’ – do you think it helps or hinders the music?

Almost everyone discovers new music online, but there is a balance to everything. If you present quality every now and then and don’t scream for attention every day, that will work better in the long run, of course. Being present is important to some degree – it’s nice to have the possibility to communicate directly with the audience on social media, I like that. Maybe it’s tempting for many artists to try to make what’s popular right now and to get lost in ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, and not what their heart desires, but that can be dangerous and lead to losing the main reason for making music.

There is a very organic feel to the music, how much do your surroundings and nature have an influence on the music?

Difficult to answer that, but I guess it plays a significant part. In the north [of Norway],  there is a lot of time and space, and that might shine through in my songs.

What do you hope to achieve with Sirens?

To reach more people, to increase my audience and be able to tour even more. It is a giant kick performing my own songs on a stage in front of people, and every time I do I remember why I got into this in the first place. Every time is slightly different, so it is a diverse and exciting job.