Interview | FFS 5 with Malin Pettersen

Largely known as the lead singer of Norway’s Lucky Lips, Malin Pettersen is leaning further into the folk side of her country-folk with her second solo effort, the upcoming 6-track album, Alonesome. As we can assess from the release of two singles so far, the EP is the first to strip away a full band sound from Pettersen’s repertoire, leaving her vocals resonant beside sparse instrumentation.

Ahead of the full EP release, For Folk’s Sake chatted with Pettersen as part of our ongoing ‘FFS 5’ interview series.

Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?

I’m from Oslo, Norway and started out singing and making up songs as early as my memory will allow me to remember. I think there are many moments that altogether led me to do what I do, but becoming pregnant with my first child was the one thing that made me go, “Am I going to do this halfway or am I going to give it everything that I got and more to actually find out if this thing could work out?”

As an artist, how do you define success?

I will say that my definition is what it is because of what I am working towards right now. My goal. And every artist probably has a different one. But for me it’s got to be to be able to make a living making and performing the music that I want to make and perform. Don’t need millions, just enough for rent and my kids. Also, of course, reaching intermediate goals – like someone you admire listening to your songs can feel like a success, someone saying they really like the lyrics of a song, or getting to play that festival you’ve always wanted to play. Those are the small (yet personally big) successes that keeps you going. 

What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?

For me there has been two challenges. One has been money. With streaming people have gotten used to the idea that music is free, like it is something separated from the artist. But it is not. It is so closely related that as long as streaming almost for free is the norm artists and songwriters are going to struggle to make a living. Particularly the smaller/mid range artists/songwriters. And it’s also a catch 22 because good streaming numbers can lead to other great possibilities, so if people are not streaming your music that’s a downside too. 

The other challenge has been the business’ prejudice against country related music. When I started they wouldn’t touch it. Not the labels, not the festivals, etc., except for those who were solely genre specific. Thankfully that’s all changing and I could not be more thrilled! 

What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist? What do you hope to achieve?

If I am lucky, and at the same time work as hard as I do now, I hope that music can be my profession for the rest of my life. But having seen first hand, and as a colleague, how fast these things shift I don’t feel certain of it at all. All I can do is keep on working and writing music. I hope to travel more in Europe and also the US, and play my music to as many people as I can. 

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

I’m a thinker. So even though this is very closely related to songwriting I’d say contemplating life is a huge part of my day, haha. I also love to take pictures, I’ve always been interested in design, and I love the theatre and acting. 

Words by: Jonathan Frahm