Although rightfully entitled “Norway’s queen of electronic pop,” Sandra Kolstad is, sadly, a relatively unknown name in the states. The classically trained pianist, who is currently better characterized as “postmodern singer/songstress,” has released three full-lengths since 2011 and made a name for herself throughout Europe for live spectacles that are both highly intellectual and highly engaging in the most popular sense. This March, Kolstad’s third LP, Zero Gravity State of Mind, hit US shelves. The album is her most accomplished yet, both in terms of quality and in Kolstad’s ability to seamlessly blend classical and futuristic sonic sentiments. The album as a whole sounds a bit as if Bjork, Karen O, and Martin Gore collectively composed a space age lounge act, and the album’s best track, “Million,” reeks pleasantly of a theoretical musical theatre number courtesy of Mute Records right around 1984. Her current sound is a beautifully happy amalgam of the world’s best piano pop and progressively experimental songwriting — Think Florence Welch in an age when she’s forced to compete with androids. A few months ago Sandra and I got a chance to chat about Zero Gravity State of Mind and what it represents about her current state as an artist.
Izzy Cihak: Your third full-length, Zero Gravity State of Mind, dropped earlier this year in the states, but has been out for a little while now in Europe. Have you had any favorite reactions to it, so far?
Sandra Kolstad: There have been wonderful reactions both in the press and from my listeners. I especially appreciate the feedback coming from people writing me with their personal thoughts on my music. That always offers some very interesting perspectives.
Izzy: Has your process of creating music changed significantly from your 2011 debut, CRUX, to your latest?
Sandra: I would say yes. I started out working mainly alone and with my co-producer, Petter Eldh, in our small studio. Zero Gravity State of Mind involved a lot of people, and it was recorded in a big wonderful studio, Duper Studio in Norway.
Izzy: What would you consider to be the most significant influences behind Zero Gravity State of Mind?
Sandra: I think it was my urge to make the electronic and the acoustic meet in a meaningful way somehow.
Izzy: Do you have a particular favorite track at the moment? “Million” is currently my favorite song in the world to dance to.
Sandra: Thank you! “Million” is interesting. That song just grew out of “Benjamin” during a studio session and we wrote everything there and then, very spontaneously. My favourite is “My Yellow Heart,” but I do see that “Million” is good for the dance floor when we play live.
Izzy: You’ve made a lot of really cool music videos and you also have a pretty intensely cool sense of fashion. What do the visual elements of your art draw inspiration from?
Sandra: I just try to make my music look like it sounds. I have very strange ideas about what exactly that could be. I am lucky enough to work with people who are so talented. They visualize and make my ideas become reality.
Izzy: You’ve gained quite a bit of notoriety for your live performances. What is it that they derive inspiration from?
Sandra: I am interested in anything that creates a sense of urgent presence, both in the performer and the audience. In that way I think the two can melt together and create an atmosphere that couldn’t exist anywhere else in that way. When people gather in a room to listen to music, it’s a lot of energy. I just want to make the most out of that, I guess.
Izzy: What do you have planned for 2015? Any chance we might get to see your live show here in the states?
Sandra: I would absolutely love to play the states again. Dates and places are being added to the tour all the time, so hopefully some US dates might also show up. Besides touring and promoting Zero Gravity State Of Mind, I am currently composing and producing all the music for a techno theatre that will premiere in Norway in the autumn. I am also in the studio working on new music.