When things MOVE in the music industry, they tend to juggernaut rather than chug along steam train style. Such is the case with the trajectory of the latest singer/songwriter to emerge out of Norway, Anna Lena Bruland, who goes under the moniker, EERA. With two single releases now firmly under her belt and a string of rave reviews to stick in her scrapbook, EERA has fast become a recognisable name on the music scene within an astonishingly short space of time.
Here current single, ‘White Water’, is an intriguing taster of what we have to look forward to on her forthcoming EP, recorded and produced with Nick Rayner, of Farewell J.R. fame, at his home studio in Cambridge. Of the EP, EERA explains, “My lyrics are based on images, rather than storylines. For me, it’s about creating imagery and wordplay that means something quite different to each individual.”
On the eve of EERA’s appearances at the renowned by:Larm Festival and the release of her self-titled debut 4-track EP on 4th March, which falls smack bang between her two festival dates, I caught up with the London based Norwegian newbie of the moment, for a brief but extremely interesting Q&A, in which she talks about her dream “supergroup” collaboration, inspirational Farao, learning Alex G’s ‘Kicker’ and Meg the dog.
“Never become a musician, it’s too much hard work”
Hey EERA, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. First up can you tell the readers something about your musical background and influences?
My main influences are PJ Harvey, Blonde Redhead, Deerhoof etc. And also “older” stuff like Pixies and early Cat Power. Just artists with dissonant noises and great lyrics mainly.
What brought you to music and how & when did you decide to become a full time musician?
I don’t think it’s something you decide to do, it’s something that chooses you. My grandad was a big conductor back in the 60s and he always said to me; “Never become a musician, it’s too much hard work. But if you are going to do it anyways, I’ll make sure I’ll get a choir together for you so that you can become a choir conductor when you come back to Norway.” So I guess my back up plan is sorted.
Why did you move to London?
It was just a natural move from Liverpool. I lived there for four years before I moved down to London. My bandmates at the time were moving down, and I’ve always wanted to live in London because of the music scene here.
That seems to be the same for most Norwegian musicians – London is the big draw. Where did the moniker EERA come from?
I wish I had an exciting answer to this, but to be perfectly honest I just really liked how the word sounded and looked, and it’s nice that it’s similar to an era.
How would you define your style? Do you feel that music should not be pigeon-holed by constantly being categorised?
I don’t think music should be pigeon-holed, no. My favourite comments I’ve gotten after a show is that they feel that I’m doing something new, which is the best compliment any artist can get really.
What makes you stand out from other musicians/artists?
Hopefully I do stand out by the way I write my songs. The chord sequences I use, and the lyrics I write.
How did you approach creating and making your EP?
I recorded the EP with Nick Rayner, in his home recording studio in Cambridge. At the time, I already had the main core of the songs written. Nick just helped to get the sounds that were in my head into the computer. I really enjoyed being in an unconventional studio with a limited amount of gear. That inspires me the most. And he has the most incredible studio dog, Meg!
“I like to challenge the listener”
What were the sources of inspiration for your songs?
Something I can connect with. Either it’s something that has affected me, or others. But it has to be something that I understand fully and that I want to explore further obviously.
Do you expect the audience to be able to understand the themes/concepts of the songs, or do you think music should be open to free interpretation?
Not necessarily. I always intend to create songs where people can make up their own mind about what the songs are about. I like to challenge the listener, so that they want to listen to the song over and over to then fully understand it in their own way.
How do you approach playing live?
To create an atmosphere that people get sucked in to. I’ve never been obsessed with the idea that the live set needs to be exactly the same as the record. I like that it’s a bit different.
How did you find playing the LoBF and Eurosonic Festivals compared with smaller, more intimate gigs?
The more people the better for me really. Haha. My worst nightmare is to play in front of a really small crowd, if you do that you can see all of their faces! If there’s a larger crowd they all sort of turn into one, which makes it less scary in a way.
Aside from by:Larm, have you any other dates lined up?
As we as by:Larm, so far we have Great Escape and another gig in London (Sebright Arms) confirmed. There are a few more that we can hopefully announce soon!
“Farao is one of my best friends. She is a true inspiration for me, such a talented artist”
You’ve played live with Farao & did backing vocals for her (in Berlin) – how did that come about?
Farao is one of my best friends. I used to play in her band for two years and we also used to live together in London. So we’ve been playing together for a long time. So when she asked me to go on tour with her I obviously said yes. We have so much fun together! She is a true inspiration for me, such a talented artist.
The Norwegian music scene is particularly exciting at the moment, it seems to have entered a really creative and interesting phase. Why do you think that is?
Yeah, I guess it is. It’s tricky for me to answer that question since I’ve always known of the scene, and followed it. And I think there’s always been some great artists here and there coming from Norway, but for some reason more and more people are recognising that at the moment.
If you could cover one song, what would it be and why?
I’m trying to learn “Kicker” by Alex G at the moment, purely because it’s just an incredible song.
If you could collaborate with another artist/band, who would you choose?
Well it’s so hard to just choose one so I might as well just tell you my dream band; John Parish on guitar, Christopher Bear (Grizzly Bear) on drums, Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead) on additional guitar and effects etc. and Jenny Lee Lindberg (Warpaint) on bass and backing vocals.
Are there any artists/bands you’d recommend for 2016?
Yeah! There’s this mental band called The Mantis Opera that I love so much! They’re awesome live as well. If you’re into Battles and Deerhoof they’re definitely worth a listen. I got to sing with them live once which was so much fun!
What are EERA’s plans for 2016?
To write loads, and get back in the studio, and to play some awesome shows along the way.
by:Larm is one of Norway’s most prestigious festivals and the biggest Nordic emerging talent showcase; it is held annually in Oslo. Full details regarding tickets, artists and schedules can be found here.
Check out the video for EERA’s current single, ‘White Water, a Cleopatra-esque production that’s darker than it’s milky whiteness would lead you believe.
You can pre-order the EERA EP which comes in two gorge vinyl eds here –
Her music is also available digitally here –