For Pernille Rosendahl, former lead singer in bands such as Swan Lee and The Storm, material stuff most of all turn into obstacles hindering her from creating. “If I had to sit and worry about paying for an expensive apartment or car, then I limit my possibility to create freely. I simply don’t want to worry about money,” she says. The singer therefore also holds no issue with saying goodbye to the things she owns. For her, her chosen livelihood, is never about either money or fame, but the magic of reaching into her creative force and finding something that’s never heard before.
When we meet the singer in her apartment, on a quiet street in Frederiksberg, the space is minimal and the walls mostly bare. As she explains, it’s about creating a balance between a space empty of stuff and a head full of thoughts.
What’s important to you when creating the frame around your home?
I have always felt, when moving into a new place, that I wanted to be able to feel a kind of spirit in the place. And when I moved in here, it was an estate, which looked completely different to now, but there was just such a nice atmosphere. I’m not a person to fill my home with lots of stuff. I like not having a lot, because I have so much in my head. So it’s nice keeping the surroundings simple. Colors also has a big effect on me. I have a close friend who’s a complete color-nerd. She has been a good inspiration to how colors affect the mood.
It’s also lovely to see how you almost haven’t got any white walls.
Yes, but the colors are also not too invasive. Today, many people are extremely daring, and experiment with crazy colors. I’ve also had different colors on the walls, but I like when you the get the feeling of the room hugging you. I also work a lot, and I work a lot for home. When I’m doing projects, I have papers hanging on all the walls. I use them as one big pin-up board, and therefore I need to keep them free from too much stuff.
Is there anything you have a special tie to, and which you would never get rid of?
Basically, I don’t really form a connection to things. I never have. I also don’t find it hard getting rid of stuff. I’m very grateful for all the things that have been in my possession through life, but at the same time, I’m fine with passing them on. I would say the only thing in home, I would save if the house was on fire, is a painting, which is the only thing I have inherited from my father, but that’s because it’s an heirloom. Everything else I have quite loose relation to.
How did your interest in music begin?
I was actually kind of a late bloomer, as I didn’t debut with my first orchestra until I was 29. So I started really late, and I wasn’t someone, who had always known I wanted to play music. It was something that came gradually, and it took a long time to mature that dream and work life. Being a musician is a weird working life, because it’s so unpredictable. It demands, that you’re up for a life that’s filled with uncertainty, and which is constantly changing. One year, you can be making tons of money. And the next, you can earn nothing. It demands a special psyche to live as a musician, which also results in you being kept alive, as you have to always have your tentacles out, and be in contact with where you’re going, in order to stay relevant as an artist.
Do you feel that’s something you have had to teach yourself?
I think, I have always had it in me that I could, but I honestly don’t think it’s a life for everyone. I couldn’t imagine living any other way, but when people become close to me, they often think I’m living a weird life. For many years, I have lived a more conventional musician life playing concerts and recording albums, where the later years, I’ve evolved into new types of projects. I have made my first play for Aarhus Theatre, which is premiering this January, and is about Denmark. It’s almost an installation performance with a large international dance company and an architect, who has made the scenografi. We’re trying to create something that involves the audience, and gives you a feeling of what Denmark is.
That sounds interesting.
I think it’s going to be really good. I work more and more project-oriented, and expand my field in a way. So from music to lots of other stuff. I’m also doing a wellness piece at Lolland with the same architect. We’re creating an artwork out in the woods that will be there for three years.
So you moving your musical journey along?
Yes, it’s about expanding the artform a bit. It’s extremely one-dimensional to play music, so it’s about pulling it into new dimensions. The older I get, the more fun I find doing that.
What would you say is the best thing about your job as a singer?
There is two thing, I really love. It’s quite magical where music comes from, and where songs, lyrics and tones come from. It’s magical every single time you write a song. It hasn’t been made before. To create something that’s unique and original can still blow me away in my own work. I really think it’s so cool. So I’m very grateful I get to experience that. The second thing is, I’m very focused on the people I work with. Having to create a team of people, who you travel with, on whichever journey you’re embarking on. And that changes as well. Sometimes you have to say goodbye to some people and hello to new ones. And here I have some clear principles, involving that I always aim to work with wide spectrum of ages. The guy, who is most important to me, second to my musician, he’s only 23 years old. I found him when he was 19. And he’s extremely good at creating new concepts around how to do concerts. So we have done that together. We have matured that together by constantly rethinking, where you would want to have a meeting that involves music.
So you’re working towards more intimate concerts?
We have really tried to study how you create intimacy and how you create proximity in your relationship to the audience. Performing at Grøn Koncert or a festival, that’s one type of experience, but I have tried that for so many years, so today, I find it more exciting to try something, where you pull people into something a bit different. And often, if people are coming to an experience, where they perhaps are unsure of what they are getting, and how they should act, then you enter an uncertain space, as an audience, which makes people open their hearts faster. I have really gained a lot from pushing the expectations of my audience.
Do you have a motto or saying you live by?
If I had to say, I live by a saying, it would be that I try to live without fear. I try to walk out of my door every morning, saying: I wonder what the day has to offer today. And then accept everything, it has to offer. I think the reason this has been important for me, is linked to the fact, that I have a very uncertain existence. If I had to walk around being scared I couldn’t pay my bills, or that I wouldn’t be able to live off what I do, then I think, I would numb my desire to create and my nerve. And therefore, I have had to actively decide to live without fear, and then take it from there. And I’ve always made it, but I think it has a lot to do with attitude.
That’s a really nice attitude to have.
And before I lived here, I was with my son Tristian’s dad, and we lived in a small house in Hellerup. Very idyllic family life. Then we split up, and I thought, now I want to do something completely different. So I moved in to a two-bedroom apartment with a seven year old boy, and it was supposed to be a quick layover. But we actually ended up living there for three years, and we speak about it, as one of the best times we have had, because we were so close to each other. We had nothing. We also didn’t have that much money at the time, but I think the willingness to change, and being able to fathom being in the present, and saying, as long as I’m with the people I love, then we’ll find the positive in that. I think, it’s about practicing some gratefulness for the present. That’s also goes back to why, if I had to get rid of all the things I have here, and moving into a two-bedroom apartment, I could do that. It’s not a problem. If you don’t have the anxiety and fear of having things taken from you, then it’s my experience, that you actually gain a lot. You gain a lot of wealth in other forms.
Because you make space for it you mean?
Yes. My working life is extremely depended on me being in contact with myself, and being able to create freely. When I create freely, that’s when it’s best. I can’t sit and be scared about how life goes. I have to be free in it.
If we had a look in your closet, what would we find?
Then you would find very traditional clothing, actually. You would find a lot of jeans. You would find a lot sweatpants. You would find a pretty traditional closet. But I do like if it’s of high quality. Clothes is extremely mood depending, but gradually, I feel that the clothes in my closet, I can get up and put on without much trouble, because I’ve cleaned out all the corners. So there’s peace and quiet in the closet. When I open it in the morning, then I have made peace with what’s inside it.
Is there a difference in your style when you’re on stage and when your just at home?
I have a philosophy, that you could make a bit more of an effort, when you’re going on stage. But I can also go on stage in jeans and at shirt without a problem, because I also find it refreshing not seperating your style from your personality. I did that more when I was younger, but today it’s more intersected. I think it’s about what’s clothes does to a person. If I choose to wear a massive pink puffy dress, then I think I would feel the dress was entering with me. I relax, when I’m feeling comfortable, and that’s when I know I can perform. If I went on stage in something very noisy, I would just think about how I was wearing a massive pink puffy dress. And therefore I have actually become quite conservative, you could almost say, in my choice of clothing, because that way I feel there’s more room for the person.
Do you have something you do to disconnect?
I like walking. I completely disconnect when I walk. I think actually, it’s something my psychologist has taught me. To take a walk and keep quiet, and then look up instead of down. Sometimes it’s about looking up at the sky, or the trees or at the flowers. Finding peace for me, is when I can allow my mind to travel. And my mind travels the best when my body is active. And it can be all places that I take a walk. I walk around Copenhagen, and I very much enjoy walking around Copenhagen. The streets are so lovely, there’s enough to look at. It’s a very beautiful city we live in.