Susanne Sundfør: Exit Music

Susanne Sundfør is waiting for the end of the world

Norwegian singer/songwriter Susanne Sundfør, despite the aforementioned label, doesn’t consider herself a musician. “I connect more with films than music, so for me, making an album is almost like making a movie,” she says. “Arranging a song is more about associations than composition. With the jazz outro of ‘Good Luck, Bad Luck,’ for example, I wanted to feel like I was in a bar, drinking a fancy drink and smoking cigarettes, looking at a band play softly while outside the world was coming to an end.”

Music For People In Trouble (Bella Union), Sundfør’s new album, is a meditation on heartache and mortality. She sings her songs in a quiet tone, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar and piano. The production is sparse, but at the end of many tunes, she segues into wordless, jazzy, ambient instrumental passages with hints of classical music. The tunes are world weary, shining out of the existential darkness to provide a spark of hope.

“I was tired after years of working hard on my music and having bad relationships on the way,” says Sundfør. “I felt like I was falling off a cliff, and there was no safety net. I hit rock bottom and wrote ‘Mantra,’ the first song on the record. The lyrics were my ground zero. I built myself up from there, through writing the music, doing therapy and traveling. What helped me most was being made aware of the lies I tell myself about my feelings and the world. It’s pretty awesome when you’re in the therapy room and you’re like, ‘Wait, that’s not true!’ Chains that have bound you down for years are suddenly gone—like ‘poof!’

“This is my effort to make an existential album. It’s a journey. I want people to come out on the other side feeling rejuvenated, ready for life again, ready for the challenges we face.”

j. poet