Write Up By Kelly Holm
For too long, 22-year-old singer-songwriter SKAAR was unknown to the music scene outside of her tiny home island of Stord, off the Norwegian coast, but this year, her career is due for an epic “turn of the tide.”
“It just makes me want to dance so hard!” SKAAR says of her single “Turn of the Tide,” from her debut EP The Other Side Of Waiting. Promoting a message of starting over, it will attract listeners who love Ingrid Michaelson or SHAED.
“Let go the feelings running in your veins/I know it can be hard sometimes but alleviating,” she sings. “On the dark days, might feel like you’re going insane/You need to learn to drown it out or you’re going to fall in.”
The alt-pop artist, whose full name is Hilde Skaar, grew up writing her first songs and playing in her first band on Stord, an island with under 20,000 inhabitants along the western coast of Norway.
“Looking back, I’ve always wanted to work with music, and I have no idea why,” she says. Once you listen to her songs, however, you’ll begin to grasp the reason.
At 18, SKAAR rose to prominence as the featured vocalist on TRXD’s “Wherever You Go,” and at 21 gained acclaim for her own original music, earning praise from fellow Norwegian AURORA as “a young Katie Melua.”
Now, less than eight months off the release of The Other Side of Waiting, SKAAR dropped a collection of songs on April 16th, simply titled Waiting. Like its predecessor, Waiting features eight tracks, but is entirely acoustic.
“After a very long period of time in 2020 without any inspiration or motivation, I finally managed to get out of my funk,” SKAAR says. “It took a lot of pushing myself and writing even though I was blank with ideas, but it worked.”
SKAAR recorded the album in January, alongside producer Askjell Solstrand and guitarist Fredrik Svabo in an “intense” process. She has begun to post lyric videos for Waiting songs, set to a melancholy winter ocean background. There’s the vulnerable “Say Something Now,” which carries AURORA vibes of its own, and the Birdy-esque piano ballad “You.”
Even during the toughest year the music industry has known in a long time, SKAAR still fulfilled lifelong dreams and made lasting memories. She played at Oslo’s annual by:Larm festival, achieving a milestone she’d been “looking forward to… for years” only weeks before international lockdowns came, and garnered nominations for Best New Artist and Best Pop Artist at Spellemannprisen, Norway’s most prestigious music awards show.
“I was at my sister’s house, watching her two-year-old baby. I got a call from my team and screamed when they told me the news,” she said, recalling the moment she learned of her nominations. “The baby was startled and thought I was scared, [but] I remember feeling so happy and caught off guard.”
Still, SKAAR is candid about her setbacks, of which she’s had many in her chosen career. As COVID-19 struck, she found herself in a writing drought, and admits to being in another after an “album bubble,” but is adamant that she’ll soon dive back into the craft.
“It’s okay to feel what you feel, no matter who you are or where you are in the world or in life,” she asserts. “[Later this year, fans can expect] lots of new music with a more grown-up SKAAR.”
Looking farther ahead into the future, SKAAR aspires to play for and collaborate with Chris Martin, but in times like these, she’ll settle for a simpler short-term goal.
“I really want to play at least one concert,” she says. “That would be a dream.”