Truls Qvale

Diving Into the “Matters” of Ina Wroldsen’s Mind

It might sound odd, but award-winning and critically-acclaimed are practically understatements when discussing Ina Wroldsen’s talents and success.

This genre-defying artist is the epitome of diligent and a model pop star for the 2010s and 2020s. For years, the Norwegian star has done more than her fair share of creating art. In fact, the kindhearted, forward-thinking singer-songwriter has played a notable role in the massive, globe-spanning pop hits from the past decade – even if you didn’t know it!

Wroldsen sings on Calvin Harris’ 2015 chart topper, “How Deep Is Your Love?” for starters, but has also contributed lyrics, stories, and heart to tracks by Demi Lovato, Steve Aoki, Britney Spears, Leona Lewis, One Direction, Cheat Codes, and more. With a catalog as extensive as hers, it only makes sense that she use her passion and knowledge to guide stars-in-the-making. This is why she is a coveted, beloved mentor on The Voice Norway. Ina Wroldsen is a diamond in the rough when it comes to creativity and vulnerability, as well as connection and freedom. Her latest release, last month’s standout EP, Matters of the Mind, depicts just that… and much, much more. When you are as flexible, honest, and creative as Wroldsen, it’s borderline effortless to put new art out into the world that has a grasp on both relevant messages and genre melding.

Ina, there is such an individuality to your art. It’s mesmerizing to listen to and riveting to watch you build a career around it. Navigating the industry can be difficult, though, and yet you seem to have such an original voice and story. Why is it important, to you, to have a sense of creative control over your work?

I think that because I have always been writing, my musicality is deeply rooted in expressing myself through stories. Because my stories are so defining to me, it is important that the tree they grow look and feel the same way as I always saw it. Everything starts with the story and the story is always everything. It needs to connect in me in order to connect with you. 

Speaking of, as a fan and a journalist, I find that there’s an elegance to the way you specifically craft the vibes of your songs. Elements of pop, undertones of EDM, tones of R&B… there’s not a genre you don’t touch upon or a style of music you can’t blend effortlessly to fit who you are as an artist. If you had to describe your solo music to someone who has yet to jump on the lovely Ina Wroldsen train, how would you? Is there a specific song or two from this upcoming record – or your catalog as a whole – that you think define this musical aesthetic of yours?

What a lovely and very insightful question on your part! Thank you. I think, because I love all kinds of music, it took me a very long time to figure out who I was when I sang my own stuff. Being diverse like that is a big blessing as a songwriter, but I feel it can be a bit of a curse when it comes to becoming a unique artist. 

I decided one day to just allow myself to be me and sing and write what I feel like. If I had to choose one song that really defines me as a writer, I think it would have to be “Fathers Eyes.” I just let it all flow free on that one.

“Fires” and “Matters,” two of your most recent singles, feel so fresh, so worldly, and yet so intimate. How do you decide what songs to release as singles? Whether they were to stand alone or prep fans for a larger release, such a new LP.

I have a great team to help me choose singles, so I can’t take all the credit on those things, but the most important thing for me is that there is a clear story to tell. I feel like both “Fires” and “Matters” fulfill that need for me, so I could not have made an EP in 2021 and not include those two songs. 

Your songwriting talents are highly documented, globally recognized, and deservingly adored. When writing songs for other people – or even alongside them, do you find yourself holding back a bit of that personal vulnerability that is intertwined within your own songs? Because many of the songs to your name have such a sense of sentimentality and reality, even if they sound consistently fun and bouncy.

I think that it is important to keep in mind when writing for other people that other people will, in fact, be singing them. I am a thinker, so all the records I write will have an element of my mindset. At the same time, my way of expressing myself might feel slightly alien to other artists and so I try and take that into consideration to make [the words] slightly more available. 

On the note, I’d love to ask about some of the songs you have worked on that you are most proud of, not just as a contributor, but also of the artists themselves. “Sirens” by Cher Lloyd is an immaculate, intimate tale, so that might be my favorite of yours outside of your own releases.

“Sirens”… I love that you know that record. I read a lot, I love learning. When I wrote “Sirens” and “Bind Ur Love,” I was in a period where I was reading everything I could find on the medieval witch trials in Europe and America. They are both directly inspired by both the treatment of women and the injustice caused by the patriarchy in that time period. “Sirens” is about knowing it’s over – whatever “it” may be. “Bind Ur Love” is inspired by casting spells. It sounds super strange, but I always allow myself to get inspired by whatever weirdness hits my head. 

This new EP, Matters of the Mind, lets you shine in every way. As an artister, as a singer, as a songwriter, and just as a creative force to be reckoned with, this EP is some of your best work to date. It’s been quite the interesting year, though, for people all across the globe and of every profession. For you, why was now a good time to get this little record together and release it out into the world?

Hah! I don’t know if it was. We are living in a strange time, indeed, and I am quite unsure when it comes to trying to understand how people use music in a time like this. I do think, however, that songs are better out in the world than in my computer, so I thought, “Let’s just do it,” and I am glad I did. Music is immortal, it lives forever in the minds of those who listen. 

Slowly by surely the world is opening back up for live performances and pseudo-world tours. What do you miss most about sharing your art with the world without any roadblocks? Do you have hopes of bringing Matters of the Mind to life on stage? 

I sure hope so. I think it is important to take one day at the time right now. Normality will come, and then so will holidays, hugs, community, and concerts. I can’t wait to meet my people again and sing on stage.