In late 2015, Dagny delivered an energetic, entrancing, and enigmatic anthem with “Backbeat.” Following its world premiere on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show, the Norwayborn and London-based songstress amassed over 16 million Spotify streams in a couple of months’ time, landed on “Artist to Watch” lists from Apple, Spotify, and Tidal, and earned features from The Line of Best Fit and more. There’s a simple explanation to the song’s meteoric rise.
“‘Backbeat’ is like three minutes of joy,” smiles the singer. “That’s what we wanted to create.”
It’s almost effortless in its execution—as if it were meant to happen all along. Given her upbringing, it probably was. Born to two musician parents in the small Norwegian town of Tromsø, her earliest memories include falling asleep to the sounds of mom and dad practicing jazz and Brazilian music just down the hall.
“I slept better with music than I did without it,” she affirms. At 15-years-old, she vividly recalls watching an Eva Cassidy Christmas concert on television. At that moment, she picked up an acoustic guitar and began tenaciously writing songs, reflecting the energy of the world around her.
“Where I’m from, we have 24 hours of darkness in the winter and 24 hours of light in the summer,” she explains. “That affects your mood, and it comes through the music.” Turning 21, she moved to London, started jamming with various songwriters, and performed around the city. However, her sound would undergo a profound transformation around this time.
“We were doing more folky music,” says Dagny. “When I first got to London, I was taking it all in and learning. I hadn’t found my identity yet. By 2014, I needed something new. I was playing around on my electric guitar and working on the drum beats. Something naturally happened.”
Writing “Backbeat” with collaborator Sam McCarthy she channeled a new spark altogether. Driven by a shuffle of handclaps, drums, piano, and electric guitar, the song gallops with a distinct swing culminating on a big hook.
“I sang over this cool telephone sound on the vocal mic, and we just jammed it out,” she goes on. “It’s about the vibe. ‘Backbeat’ is the feeling of letting yourself go a little bit.”
As “Backbeat” caught fire, Republic Records signed Dagny, and she immediately set out to work on her debut EP in Los Angeles. Now, her indefinable energy will define everything she does.
“When people listen to my music, I just want them to feel energized, empowered, and good,” she leaves off.