Our pick of the most exciting up-and-coming artists in Norway

Written by Sophie Hertenstein

Illustrated by Katie Jessop-Emmins

During the last year before moving from London to Lillehammer, I was listening to “Femme Fatale” by Britney and “The Fame” by Lady Gaga on repeat. I had decided that Indie music was for people who were living in Hackney Wick and do ket on a regular basis – no judgement, but it’s just not for me. However, my move to Norway gave me a newfound excitement and hunger for new music and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the indie scene here.

It takes longer than 24 hours to drive from one end of the country to the other and many places aren’t even accessible by train or car. With only around 5 million inhabitants, it’s the second least densely populated country in Europe. That feeling of open space is at the root of the unique indie music style here which can be characterised by ambient synths, individual sounds and creative freedom. By now, everybody has heard of Boy Pablo, but there are so many more Indie Gems to find!

Lil Halima

She’s the queen of effortless R&B with raw vocals and mesmerising lyrics. You should follow her on Instagram for your daily dose of goddess inspiration. It seems like everything she does is ART: from hanging out with her poodle and canary bird to taking selfies in a crown and painting portraits. Lil Halima grew up in the northern part of Norway and started gaining attention after posting short clips of herself playing and singing on social media. 

The first song I ever heard of hers was ‘Jasmine’, a defiant heartbreak song (‘Now that you’ve got time for it/ I hope that you show it all/ I’m just fucking mad ‘cause this love was meant for me and all’), after which she released the EPs ‘love songs for bad lovers’ and most recently ‘Brown Girl Diary’. I’ve thought about what would happen if Jorja Smith and her had a song together, I’ve come to the conclusion that my heart might just stop beating. 

Pen Gutt

The rapper spent his youth in Christian summer camps and worked as a model, musician, actor and visual body performer before starting his project, which combines rap and folk music. His lyrics are in Norwegian but the emotion in his songs can be understood by anyone. Pen’s so immersed in the music when performing that it feels like an honour to catch at least a little glimpse inside his intimate world. Aesthetically his videos are like short fashion films, definitely worth watching!

Anna of the North

With this dreamy video, Anna is absolutely not a newcomer and she definitely deserves more recognition than she’s getting. 90s synth pop that seems made for Euphoria scenes (this is exactly what I want to bike home to from a party in winter!). She’s worked with Tyler the Creator for his tracks ‘Boredom’ and no one’s ever created a hymn for a city as vibey and artistic as she did with ‘Oslo’.

Dutty Dior

If you’re vibing to Lotto Boyzz and Krept and Konan this is definitely your jam. One of the most promising members of the new wave of Norwegian hip-hop and member of the SDKT collective, he’s perceived to be the Scandi version of Playboy Carti. ‘HALLO’ was the summer hit of 2019 and YES, this is what I want to hear in Heaven on a Monday. 

Ruben Dawnson

He was once described as ‘the most tasteful person in the world’ and I wouldn’t doubt that he is that for one second. This is the perfect mix of chill lo-fi productions, dreamy guitars, coming-of-age, Weltschmerz-infused lyrics and R&B-tinged vocals.

Ruben just put a song on Soundcloud after letting his Instagram followers choose the title: “Boys cry too”. It makes me feel okay about crying and I’m not even a boy! He’s exactly what you’d want to listen to while catching the last beams of sun, hanging with your mates at Hackney Downs and looking at the pink skies before moving over to The Star or Shacklewell Arms.

Sassy 009

For the final artist in my list, I must say that there hasn’t ever been a better artist name in the history of artist names. And that’s a fact. She has a strong Berlin underground look and even as someone who has added techno to my “things not to give a fuck about” list (I refuse to talk about or try it, kinda like these liquid diets that Beyonce apparently does) I approve! I would dance to this for 12 hours straight! 

I hope you’ve discovered some new artists to listen to and realised that “Umbrella”, “Irreplaceable”, “Quit” and “New Rules” are only four of the super hits made in Norway.

The Author

Photographed by Karoline Skaug

Sophie is originally from Germany and moved to East London when she was seventeen. After finishing her studies last year at The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, she packed up and moved to Norway where she is focusing on her music career under the artist name ‘Horrible Sophie’. Her most recent single, Phenomenally, can be found on Spotify here and her Instagram page here.

Edited by Ris Galabov and Stephanie Kleanthous

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