Danish import talks gay fans, sex in pop music and her no-rules world
Nanna Oland Fabricius is in her own world again. That’s where the Danish artist – who goes by Oh Land, a play on her middle name – imagines a mystical, anything-goes life for herself. And it’s from that place that she wrote her self-titled American debut, an electropop piece of dreamy dance songs like the first single “Sun of a Gun” and destined-to-be-gay-anthem “We Turn It Up.”
She recently launched her first-ever North American tour, one that promises to be a visual dazzler with balloon video projections and her cool couture sense. From the road, Oh Land spoke to us about her wacky dreams, being a _Black Swan_ ballerina and how sexuality in music videos bores her.
Oh Land isn’t just a play on your middle name, but you describe it as a fairytale world where anything can happen.
That’s how I see my little musical world. When I write, I feel like I dive into this place where there’s room and space for all of my thoughts and dreams and fears. There’s nothing I try to hide and that’s my land of Oh, where everything can happen.
Even gay marriage?
Yeah, totally! Everyone can get married – wherever there’s love.
Have you ever been inspired creatively by a dream?
I have very vivid dreams, and I often take things directly from my dreams and translate them into either ideas for music videos or press photos or even music sometimes. I think I’m quite a light sleeper so I dream very specific things.
What’s the craziest dream that you’ve had?
I’ve had so many crazy dreams! (Laughs) Recently, the dream that I liked the most involved three cats and three black swans that were flying over me in this really cool formation, and it just looked amazing, and I was lying on the grass taking a picture of it. I wish I had that picture of it in real life.
Why do you think you connect so well with gay people?
I’ve been playing a lot of shows at gay clubs and I feel like I’ve always had a very warm welcome. Maybe because my show doesn’t really have any rules and it’s very kind of visual, and a lot of people in the gay community can relate to that or feel the things that I express.
Between Lady Gaga and Katy Perry and all the other gay-adored dance divas, do you feel like you have to compete for some of the gay love?
No, I don’t actually. Whoever wants to listen to my music and whoever can relate to it somehow or get some kind emotion out of it, I’m just really, really happy for every single fan I get. I’m not competitive in that way.
How did having two musical parents – a mom who was an opera singer and a father who was a composer – influence your career?
They would always play and rehearse, and musicians would come in and out of the house all the time, so we didn’t really put on records. I’d always listen to live music. I remember my childhood home as just being like one big live concert all the time, and that influenced me a lot. We always sang when my mom was singing, and I’d always make vocal harmonies for her songs. I’ve really brought that with me to the music I make today.
After watching the video for “Sun of a Gun,” one thing I noticed that sets you apart from other female artists is that you’re more focused on art than sex. Is overt sexuality not something that interests you?
Yeah. It’s because I was dancing ballet for 10 years and ballet is pretty much based on one idea of beauty – and the idea of always trying to be pretty or perfect and live up to a specific ideal just really bored me after I’d spent so much time trying to be that. The harder you try to reach perfection, the bigger the flaws will seem. That’s my experience at least. So I just never try to live up to a certain idea of how you’re supposed to move in music videos or in general as a woman. I see a lot of girls that have to play on sexy and I just think it can be a little boring.
Were you the Natalie Portman/_Black Swan_ ballerina?
(Laughs) When I saw that movie I definitely could relate to it in a way. Not literally, but I could at least sympathize with her because it’s more than just being a ballet dancer. It’s about what you sacrifice for the arts, whatever kind of artist you are.
You don’t tear your fingernails off, do you?
No! (Laughs) But you know, when you do something really passionately, it’s very common that you kind of become what you do – and that’s always dangerous.
Would you still be a ballerina if you didn’t injure your back?
I would still be dancing but I feel – and it probably sounds overly religious – there’s a meaning with what happened in my life, and I think it needed to happen for me to get to music.
You’re always told how much you look like a model. Have you ever considered modeling?
No, never. I would be a terrible model. It would never work for me. I’m way too short and I’m way too opinionated. I would be like, “Can you turn that light a little?” and “Can you photograph me from another angle?” It would be terrible. And I would find it hard trying to walk and look a certain way. I’d feel silly because I know I’m not like that.