INTERVIEW: Hanne Vatnoy at Tokyo Northern Lights Festival

INTERVIEW: Hanne Vatnoy at Tokyo Northern Lights Festival
"I would really like to have a concert under water," says Norwegian singer Hanne Vatnoy.
(Courtesy Hanne Vatnoy)

TOKYO – Self-dubbed as a “piano pop songstress”, Hanne Vatnoy from Bergen creates pop music with a touch of Norwegian magic, thanks to an accompaniment of six musicians and a digital designer for animation that combine to create her own unique universe.

Vatnoy is in Tokyo to play Daikanyama’s Mamero Romantic on February 23rd as part of the Tokyo Northern Lights Festival 2013, a week-long run of film, music and arts from Scandinavia and beyond.

ARTINFO Japan caught up with Vatnoy to discuss life as a Scandinavian artist in Japan.

RMP: You debuted in Japan back in September 2010. Did it feel surreal at the time, and how does it feel looking back?

HV: I guess many musicians have a dream of becoming “big in Japan,” so why did it happen for me? I am not sure. But something in me was calling me to Japan, so everything began to happen and I didn`t think over it too much. I knew that this was something I was going to do.

RMP: How did you end up debuting in Japan before your home country?

HV: It was just a miracle. I don`t have any other explanation. My journey to Japan started one summer day in Norway, when I asked myself a question of what I wanted to do. Suddenly the name “Tokyo” entered my mouth, and I knew I had to go. The same day I wrote the song “Take me to Tokyo,” and my dream started.

A Japanese record label discovered me, and helped me a lot. Japan has kind of captured my heart, I think.

RMP: Your image is fairly surreal. What inspires you?

HV: My inspiration comes from my dream of a better world. A world of peace, possibilities, colors and love.

RMP: Your music and image resembles an art form, more than most music acts, what is your artistic background, or what artists do you admire?

HV: I started to play piano when I was 6 years old, and I have always been fond of theater. So, when I began to make music, I wanted to match it to the pictures I had inside my head.

Luckily, I have found possibilities to entertain people and to work on my talent throughout my life. I think this, and my fantasies, creativity and joy through making music and art, have kept me going.

One of my favorites artists is Imogen Heap. She inspires me trough the way she is creative and has her unique style, both in music and image. She is making her own universe, where she sets the rules. And that is where I want to be.

RMP: You will take part in the Tokyo Northern Lights Festival, what can we expect from your show?

HV: My concert will be a visual journey. I will perform music both from my album “Me and My Piano”, and new songs.

Before, my image was very theatrical, where visual art and costumes were dancing together with my music; I wanted to give a complete picture of the music where the audience would be stimulated through their senses.

Now, I look at myself as the artist who “draws” the music. The audience can fill in their experience and choose what colors to use in their imagination.

RMP: Your show has included animation by Astrid Aalgaard, what is the meaning of the combination and how important is it for you that your show includes a visual arts element?

HV: It was to give the audience a complete experience through music.

The importance depends on the setting or stage. I enjoy both the full band, costumes and digital animations in a visual room, or only me and my piano alone. When it is only me, the music can get all the attention.

In both settings, I look at myself as an artist who gives the audience a special present filled with dreams and hopes.

I would wish to try out my music in other elements, such as water. I would really like to have a concert under water.

RMP: Is it a challenge to devise new ideas to combine art and music?

HV: I live my everyday life without any need for new ideas. When they are ready, they come.

RMP: What is your vision for Hanne Vatnoy in the future?

HV: The vision is to release new music where I will start to cooperate more with motion pictures.

Also, I want to focus more on my home country, Norway, because I think they need my colors. But I will never look at myself as an artist that is owned by any country ­– I live for the world!

Hanne Vatnoy plays Daikanyama’s Mamero Romantic on February 23rd at 12:30pm.