Northern Spies


Northern Spies Songwriting Interview (Astrid Wiezell)

We all have access to a world of music; YouTube, Spotify, ITunes, Pandora, Grooveshark. No one has time for a world of music.  There is currently approximately 115 non-stop years of music on Spotify.  Ready, Set, STOP!!  Some music is not available everywhere. It exists, in general, outside of the unending world of Jay-Zs, Katy Perrys  and Robin Thicke. That’s the stuff that matters, that catches us, that takes us away from the bland, same old stuff. EardrumsPop is an online label. Until recently their unique collection of songs existed only via their site.  I assume, for exposure purposes, that they added their songs to Spotify to draw more listeners to their page.  Here’s how they describe the label:

EARDRUMSPOP is a net-label. We love warm and melodic music of all kinds, we believe in beautiful things you can see and hear, and we believe in working together, helping each other and getting good music and good art out to the public. All our releases are given away for free. We HOPE that instead of supporting us, you can visit the websites of the bands you like, buy their releases, go to their concerts or just spread the word about these wonderful bands. All our releases are made in close collaboration with the artists and illustrators.

I found Northern Spies through one of their releases. I really enjoyed Astrid’s voice and writing, so I decided to start my EardrumsPop artist  interviews with her.  I plan on interviewing more of their artists.  Not just because I think Knut and Stefan are great guys (don’t really know Tim or Silja that well yet) but because I believe that they have a passion for helping musicians and people that love music to find each other.  I also love that they encourage;

– people that have never worked together to collaborate
– musicians to cover songs by “less known” bands.  Does the world need another “Get Lucky” cover? No, but only because Daughter killed it.

Here’s Astrid, also known as Norther Spies…..

Northern Spies (Astrid Wiezell)

Northern Spies Songwriting Interview

NAME: Astrid Wiezell
Current City/Home Town: Stockholm
Most Recent Release: ‘My Middle Names’, a free EP on in December last year. Upcoming album is called ‘America’ and is being finished right now.
Band Affiliation: Northern Spies, Don’t Cry Shopgirl

Brief Intro
Northern Spies is Astrid Wiezell, 27, of Stockholm Sweden playing guitar and singing songs with her heart on her sleeve. Northern Spies has existed for about a year but Astrid has been playing and singing since her early teens, mostly on her own. 2013 promises the release of her debut album ‘America’.

OSW: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Northern Spies: You know, I find so many people talk about the long arduous process and working on songs for years but that’s not my experience with writing at all. I feel like I often know immediately if it’s going to be something worth finishing or not. I get this little “ZING!” feeling and I just follow that notion as quickly as possible before the idea runs away from me again. Normally I play guitar and try to find a melody or rhythm I like and mess around with it until suddenly I’m singing something and get a sense for the theme but lately phrases and sometimes entire song lyrics come out in my head when I’m nowhere near a guitar so I just write them down and as soon as I’m home with the guitar the pieces tend to fall into place. I work pretty quickly when I’m writing but sometimes I go longer times without writing and that’s the hard thing, when you can’t get inspired and find something you want to sing about.

OSW: What are you most proud of?
Northern Spies: Playing the Indietracks festival in Derbyshire, England this year. I’ve been going to that festival almost every year since 2008. I’ve always enjoyed it but come away feeling slightly bittersweet, wishing I could just get going again with writing and get to be up there myself. I started Northern Spies not even a year ago and to get to play the festival was a dream come true. My set was in an old steam train’s postal carriage and going on this train ride, playing songs to a packed, sweaty space with all these people was so intimate and fun. I was really moved by the support.


Northern Spies at Indietracks Festival

But honestly, every time someone else writes about how my music is part of their day, that makes me happy and proud. Knowing someone else listens to something I wrote and recorded makes my heart soar. It’s the best feeling to have as a songwriter too because I am crazy about music and I know how much a song can mean, how just a phrasing or change in melody can turn your day around. At least with myself, I sometimes know that I’ve written something I think is great but it’s so easy to just focus on your flaws. So to hear that someone else is listening, enjoying and even more importantly: listening again, that is just so flattering.

OSW: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Northern Spies: That is an incredibly different question! There are too many to count… one that is sticking with me lately is from Joni Mitchells’ ‘Both Sides Now’ where she sings “Well something’s lost but something’s gained/In living every day”. I think that is just such a perfect little line. I think the factor I consider the most in it though is the vocal delivery, it doesn’t have to be the technically best, but I have to believe it. You could have the best song in the world but if it’s sung without passion or guts it’s not going to do anything for me.

My favourite songwriters are the ones who sing with candour and intent. I am a very wordy writer myself so I’m always drawn to those who cram a lot of words in, like me. At the same time I’m intrigued by those who create such vivid images and impressions using very few words or repeated phrases… it’s a life-long study, I guess!

OSW: If you could sit down and talk songwriting with anyone who would it be and why?
Northern Spies: Oh gosh – so many people! I am lucky enough to know and get to talk to some of my favourite people, like Vermont veterans The Smittens, about these things and that often helps me to rethink or regroup my thoughts. In a dream world I’d love to talk to Jonathan Richman because his songwriting style is so his own, from start to finish, and it’s great how he is so obviously himself all the time and so unapologetic about it. He’s unique yet so approachable in his writing. I’d love to get to channel some of that. His songwriting blows my mind. I would also love to hang out with some of my contemporaries, like First Aid Kit. They’re fantastic, we’re from the same city and roughly the same ages and I think it’d be wonderful to have some of that positivity and strength that they show both musically and in interviews.

OSW: I found you through EardrumsPop.  One thing they stress is collaborating
with other artists.  How do you feel about collaborating with other musicians on songs?
Northern Spies: I love it! I really haven’t done it enough before but because of how well Northern Spies has been received, I now have quite a few collaborations in the works. I do this on my own because I guess I need an outlet for my own personal songwriting and I don’t think there is always space for another person in there, as selfish as it sounds. If you are working with someone else, you have to be willing to let some of that go and let their opinions count equally to yours. I need a space where I – and as a woman I think society always tells you to not show these qualities – can be as unapologetically assertive as I want to be. In turn, that makes me a far easier person to collaborate with in other projects. Lately I’m looking to go off-genre a bit more in collaborations.

OSW: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Northern Spies: Don’t apologise for yourself, don’t wait. Just put things out there, play live, take up space. I started writing songs when I was about 15 and it took me 11 years to really, truly get going because I’ve always been so nervous about what people would think, comparing myself to others. Not everyone can or will love you but most of the time, the meanest voices are in your head. It’s better to just make the most of what you have now and get out there. You can convince yourself otherwise your entire life. If you write on your own it’s great to find a few people whose opinions you trust and let them be your soundboards if you want feedback. I’m currently finishing my first album where I’m doing everything myself: from writing the songs to playing all the instruments to recording it all. It’s something I’ve taken to heart, as I have to be pretty inventive to get away with it all.

Northern Spies on the Web

All interviews and Bonus Materials, including Northern Spies, will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

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Thanks for spending some time here,

Our Scattered Words


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