Interview: Todd & Karen

Todd & Karen are quite an interesting duo – half of the group hails from Norway, and the other half from Ireland, showing how dedicated they are to making music together! Their new release, Norwegian Summer, is a gorgeous folk song with an old school vibe, showing that the dedication really has paid off! If you haven’t checked it out yet, a full stream can be found at the end of this interview with the duo.

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a new song called Norwegian Summer. What can you tell us about the track?

Summers up here on the Scandinavian peninsula are famously moody. They can be wonderful, but they can also be painfully short – or non-existent. So the thought behind the song was to make a slightly understated, slightly humorous comment on that fact. We wrote it just as the snow was starting to get its final death knell, and everyone was coming out of their shells up here.

Musically, it came together during the recording of another track. We were working on string overdubs for our most streamed song to date – Cosmo Crowd. Now, we have a thing that every new tune should have a slightly different flavour to the previous one. Cosmo Crowd is a rock ballad, reminiscent of The Beatles’ Free As A Bird, Electric Light Orchestra and, some might say, Oasis. We were just sat with an acoustic guitar, listening back to the ELO-inspired strings for the latter and this laidback, 60s-tinged jazzy folk tune came out. It was kind of magical, because it’s the first song we’ve written sat together in a room.

Usually we toss ideas back and forth together over the internet and then meet to sew them together. It’s also a bit of a departure, because it’s the first tune where ‘Karen’ (Ina Verdi-Ruckstuhl) sings lead.

How has the reception to the song been so far, and where can it be purchased?

The reception’s been great! We’ve gotten some radio play on various indie stations and folk stations in the UK and America. We’ve also gotten some nice reviews across the blogsphere and in up and coming music mags. In the week of release, it debuted at #1 on the New Artist Spotlight Top 20 chart, so that was a huge boost. Back home in Scandinavia we’ve been featured on some really cool and credible Spotify playlists like the official Nordic Folk list, together with well known Scandinavian powerhouses like First Aid Kit and Susanne Sundfør and the Popklikk (Norwegian music website) playlist, together with Savoy (2nd band of principal songwriter of A-ha, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy) and Sondre Lerche, to name but a few names that might be familiar to a wider indie audience. The song can be purchased from more or less every online music vendor, and definitely from iTunes and Amazon Music. It should stream wherever you prefer to stream your music.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

Absolutely! We hit the studio in the beginning of August to cut two new singles that should be released before the year is out. We’re really looking forward to it. The two new tracks will have a different flavour to Norwegian Summer (and each other) and, without giving too much away, we can say that they might be inspired by everything from 70s power-pop to The Beach Boys.

Are there any plans to release an album or EP anytime soon?

We’ve already released our first and only EP to date – Approximately Here For A Bit – on October 10th, 2022. So we’ve done that fairly recently. There might be an EP coming in late 2024, but we haven’t really decided on it yet. We certainly have enough songs for an album, but we are also aware that the attention span of the average listener seems to be decreasing, sadly. So at least until next summer, there might be a string of singles instead.

Your music has a indie-folk sound. What/who influences you most as artists? What have you been listening to recently?

Our main influences are the British 60s bands, and then of course above everything else. The Beatles. You can’t really top them, can you? But we also absolutely love bands like The Kinks, The Who, the Stones, Pink Floyd and Genesis. So there’s very much a British inspiration behind our sound. Newer Britpop like Oasis, Blur, Suede, Pulp and The Divine Comedy are very inspirational to us as well. And, of course, we love our local heroes in A-ha. On top of this, we bring things from our own backgrounds – Norwegian folk music and classical music.

You’re currently based in Norway, although Karen is from Ireland. What is the local music scene like with you at the moment?

Up until now, due to various reasons, we have been more of a studio project. We live in a beautiful little town called Kongsberg, a little over an hour west of Oslo. It has a thriving music scene and a wonderful music festival called the Kongsberg Jazz Festival. We haven’t made too much of a dent on the local music scene as of yet, but would like to become more a part of it as we go along.

If we may speak of a scene we’ve become part of though, we’d like to mention the #tweetcore scene of underground pop musicians who have formed a bit of a network online. Other members of that include Herald K, Bottlecap Mountain, The Star Crumbles and Scoopski to mention some. We have also had the pleasure of connecting well with the artist community within the New Artist Spotlight umbrella. So that’s been our ‘scene’ for the moment. But we’re definitely hoping to get out there and make more of a connection locally as well.

You’ve both got quite a history in the music industry. Do you have any other projects on the go?

‘Todd’ (Øyvind Berge) has a lot of collaborations on the backburner that could be fun to revisit – for example with Norway’s indie hip-hop maestro Paul Bernard, with whom he’s worked before. There are some cool ideas floating around there that could be worth developing fully. Another one is a possible song collaboration with Meeah, the Norwegian pop/electronica artist. Check her out on Spotify if lush, Nordic pop melancholy is your thing. But mostly, we’ve got our full attention on world domination with Todd & Karen for now, so that’s where the main priorities are.

Do you have anything else exciting coming up this year?

We’re hoping to shoot a couple of music videos for the two upcoming singles we’re recording, so hopefully that’ll pan out nicely. Other than that, it’s full steam ahead writing and arranging future indie pop smashers here at T&K HQ.

Do you have any tour dates lined up for the UK?

Sadly, we don’t! We’d absolutely love it if there were anyone in the UK who would like to hear us play though. Do get in touch and we could see if we could get something cool together!

Any last words for the fans?

Thank you so much for all the support! It’s been wonderful to connect with so many nice people and we are very thankful to those who keep digging the new tracks, help us share our music on social media and for all the love we receive for our music. We really hope the people who like Todd & Karen will like the new songs we have coming up, because we think they might be the coolest ones yet.