The lockdown of spring, 2020 highlighted what we’d long repressed: everything’s become too fast, too loud and too much. The true art of slowness, it seems, has been forgotten. One person who’s successfully internalised the slow philosophy, however, is Liv Solveig.
The Norwegian-German singer-songwriter’s music unfolds its winter-clear magic in peace, far from esoteric clichés and with an additional urban twist. Having grown up in southern Germany and a hut in the Scandinavian forest, Liv was drawn, after studying violin in Karlsruhe, to New York, where she took a master in jazz singing, and it was amid such environments that she absorbed the voices of the city as well as the silence of the Sunndalsfjord in Norway. It’s these which provide the origins of her „Scandinavian Symphonic Indie“, a sound at once atmospherically dense and hazily beautiful.
The story of her debut album, „Slow Travels“, is the story of Liv herself. „It’s an ode to delay,“ she smiles. „The album was already finished in 2017 when I realised, ‘No, that’s not it yet. These songs need more time.’” So she took that time as a matter of principle. „That’s when I learned to be brave, to leave things out,” she says, describing her process. “Afterwards, it felt like a huge relief.“ Over the course of the next two years, Liv – who arranged and produced the ten songs herself – reworked and re-sung every track.
„Slow Travels“ ’s songs offer a patchwork of influences from around the world – from her classical background, via the folk spirit of an earlier musical project, to Harlem jazz – all of them combined to create something she considers her musical home.
Liv’s voice – or rather her voices – hover over these complex arrangements like hymns, reminiscent of both the songs of the indigenous Sami people and her childhood as the daughter of an organist and a priest, her inspirations encompassing Bach as much as Sigur Rós.
Her network is large: she’s already worked with Tobias Siebert (and The Golden Choir), Alin Coen as well as Get Well Soon, and she’s also performed with Balbina at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie. Furthermore, Liv Solveig provides quite the live experience: like a solo orchestra, she lends each instrument its own unique voice, seemingly able, at least for a moment, to make the world stop altogether. Her speciality: playing the electric guitar with a violin bow.
„During the second stage of working on the album, I decided not to stop until everything felt good,“ she says. Her strategy succeeded, and ‘Slow Travels’’s title song ends with a form of mantra: „Moving ends slowly turn/ We are safe“. In peace lies our strength.