Exclusive: Sanna Nielsen Speaks to ESCflashmalta

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Apart from taking up interviews within our own local sphere, we love to bring you something international every now and then and that is why we have been in contact with a number of managements around Europe in order to see what others have to say about their career, their plans as well as their relation to the Eurovision Song Contest. Today, we head off to the beautiful country of Sweden and we will be speaking to the gorgeous Sanna Nielsen, a singer who has managed to steal the hearts of many people following her last Melodifestivalen appearance with the song “Empty Room” which finished as the first runner-up back in 2008. Amongst other things, we will be speaking to her about her various experiences within the music scene along with her present and future plans.

Sailing across the seas and through time, mainly back to 1995, a new singing sensation was born because Sanna Nielsen released a single for the very first time. The song which bears the name “Till en Fågel” managed to climb to the top of the Svensktoppen Charts, which is a record chart at the publicly funded radio broadcaster, Sveriges Radio. This was an extremely impressive feat because you were only eleven years old at the time. Do you remember what made you turn to music and what could you tell us about this track?

I sang all the time. In school and in music classes I always wanted to be the singing girl. I remember one day, when I was 7 years old, I saw a poster at school and I read that it was about a music competition. After school I ran home to my parents and told them all about it and said to them that I wanted to participate in that competition. I just wanted to sing. I didnt think of it as a competition at all. Mum and Dad said ok and we drove to Olofström, where the competition was held. I ended up 4th and it didn’t matter to me, but that competition was the start up for my singing career. After that I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

When “Till en fågel” entered “Svensktoppen” I was thrilled. I heard myself on the radio, and I thought that was so cool. I loved to sing so the opportunity to sing even more came along at that time. This little song has followed me now for about 15 years and I’m very proud of that. Proud that people still want to hear it, because it’s a part of my life, of my story.. It’s a cute song that is about a little bird that brings safety and love to life…and of course the lyrics can be related to other things, and this bird gives you the freedom to do that.

A year later, following the success of your debut single, your recording label at this stage being none other than Warner Music Sweden decided that you were destined for success and therefore they entrusted you to record an album. This material of songs which was entitled “Silvertoner” went on to be released commercially and with the previous backing of two successful singles which you had released over the past year, it managed to chart at position number 55. I am not entirely sure that your record label was enthralled with this position yet what could you tell us about the experience of recording such an album and did it satisfy your taste?

I was 11-12 at that time, and I think for any girl at that age, you just love the chance to get to record an album. I did! That kind of music that was recorded with me at that time was perfect for me. I was not that old and that kind of lyrics suited me well at that time as well. I remember I loved being in the studio, and when you record an album you might sing the same line over and over again to make it perfect…that can be tough some times and you might even get a bit mad…But for me that was no option. I could sing from morning to evening if you should have asked that of me.

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At this point in time, your face was probably quite known and recognizable and one could say that being so young, someone might have wanted to take advantage of your fame. What do you say to young artists who dream to make it big yet are scared to do so because of what I have just mentioned and how did cope with the stress of being a popular recording artist at just the age of twelve?

At that time, this business was a bit different than it is nowadays. I am so grateful for having my parents with me all the way and a record company that saw that I was just a little girl and did not push me in any way. I actually knew I had the chance to cancel, before every concert that I made, if I wanted to…They made sure this was supposed to be a hobby for me, because I had school to focus on and that was very important. I eventually grew into the “artist role” and made my own choice to continue with this life.

My advice for young artists is that you always have to feel that this is fun. That you do it for the fun of it. If you keep that feeling with you on your way, all the decisions you might have to take gets easier and you will follow what your heart says and not what others want you to do. I started out in singing competitions, and that was a great way of learning…You learn how to perform on stage, and to sing in front of an audience! Take the opportunity to learn from others….

In 1997, you released your Sophomore Album entitled “Min Önskejul” which was mainly based on songs in relation to the holiday season; you actually took a well deserved break. The album unfortunately failed to hit the charts yet your big breakthrough surely came in 2001 when at just sixteen (16) years of age you managed to enter the final round of the Melodifestivalen with the song “Igår, Idag” which finished third in the competition. What could you tell us about such an experience and what did you do within that period of three years when you were not recording?

As I said in the beginning, this was a hobby. We did albums when we felt that we had an idea of what to record. My record company did not tell me to do one album a year (It was very different…) so the Christmas album was perfect for me to do and I did not know about any charts or something like that =) 2001 was my first time in Melodifestivalen and I had dreamt of that for many years. I remember when I saw Carola winning the whole competition with “Fångad av en stormvind”. I believe I was around 7 years old, and I said to my parents that I also want to stand on that kind of stage and sing! I loved every second of it. As you mentioned it was a breakthrough. It opened up so many doors for me with participations in different TV shows, more concerts, Tours with other artist and at that time I think I decided that after school, this was the only thing I wanted to work with.

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Now, as you might have noticed, we have turned our attention to the Melodifestivalen which is normally described as the biggest event in the Swedish Music Scene knowing that it plays host to some of the most amazing songs during the year. Many artists have that particular dream of being a part of the showcase, maybe event just for the sheet exposure. The same effect is given to the actual Eurovision Song Contest actually and this is what makes Sweden one of the most impressive nations within the biggest European musical contribution. Why, is it taken so seriously and what is is your personal idea with regards to both events?

In Sweden there is no other event you can participate in that has the same impact to release your music than Melodifestivalen. It is perfect if you are a debut artist that wants to be heard, or if you have new music you want to tell the people about. That’s a fact. The selling industry of music, nowadays, is not good at all and you have got to find other ways to sell your music in the best kind of way you can find. It is also so much fun to participate in Melodifestivalen. You get the chance to be part of a great “circus” and it is a memory for a lifetime, and if you get the chance, take it!

You have now officially reached the finals of the Melodifestivalen on each and every occasion you have taken part in amounting to a total of five times, almost taking part year in and year out. It is actually another impressive feat. Starting out in 2001 with “Igår, Idag” as already mentioned finishing in third place, in 2003 with the song “Hela Världen För Mig” ending up in fifth position, in a duet with Fredrik Kempe bearing the name “Du Och Jag Mot Världen” in 2005 finishing in eight place, in 2007 with the song “Vågar Du, Vågar Jag” ending up in seventh position and of course in 2008 when the beautiful ballad “Empty Room” fell at the final hurdle in the runner-up position. Do all of these entries speak about your life experiences in general meaning do you end up relating to them and which of these would you say is your all-time favourite?

I do think that some of them are speaking about my life experiences. I use to say that “Hela världen för mig” was a perfect story to tell about where I felt I was heading to at that time…I had graduated from school and I took my driving license. I felt as the whole world lying in front of me =)

“Empty room” is a very emotional ballad. I think you can relate to all sorts of stories with that song, and for me it’s about so many things. I can honestly say that Empty room is my favourite. It took me to a new platform and it grabbed me from the start. When I sing my songs I always relate to them. I have chosen them for a reason and I always want to give them the best Feeling I possibly can.

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Sweden is a very proud nation when it comes to its musical genius and the way that things are done in this industry. The Eurovision Song Contest has been a major part of it due to the fact that it has ended up as the winner a total of four times and all of the victories came in different times and therefore progression was surely seen. Since the dawn of the millennium though, Sweden has been close yet never close enough and recent years have seen results dwindle. Do you think that there has been something done wrong in the selection procedure that would enable for this to occur?

No, I do not think that the Swedish people have sent the wrong songs to Eurovision. I think we need to see the Eurovision more of a great opportunity to show every country what we like to listen to. What our culture is like. That is what I love about Eurovision. To hear so many different styles and maybe find some of the other countries music interesting. Then, the competition part is an exciting part and makes great entertainment and it shows that everybody has different taste, but I hope that we will continue to send songs that we love and that means something to us!

Your return to the Melodifestivalen next year is actually eagerly awaited. You will actually be performing the song entitled “I’m In Love” which has actually been written by an incredible team of people who together had between them some eleven entries in the Eurovision Song Contest, five for Bobby Ljunggren and Thomas G:son and just one for Irini Michas. How did you manage to combine such an amazing team of writers on your song and what could you tell us about the genre of your song which is already a firm favourite?

I love to work with these guys! This song was already written when they asked me to sing it. So I was not the one to combine this amazing team….But I feel so honoured that they asked ME to record it, and then we felt that everybody has to hear it and that is why it ended up in Melodifestivalen! This song gives me an amazing feeling. It is happy and spreads love from the very first tone. Just read the title and you know it’s a word you can’t hide from. It’s a melody you can’t get away from. That’s what I fell for and it goes straight to your heart! At the same time this is a perfect song for me to sing next year in Melodifestivalen cause next year I celebrate 15 years on stage and this song is the perfect way to start celebrating that!

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Would you like to say anything to our readers and your fans at www.escflashmalta.com?

I just want to say thank you for your support through these years! I get to see so many fans on my concerts and of course in Melodifestivalen, and that love I get from you is fantastic! Now let’s have a great experience in next years Melodifestivalen!!!!!! Let’s have fun=)

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