Femme on Fire: Oh Land

By Vanessa Butler Photography by Jeremy Williams

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Femme on Fire: Oh Land:

Oh Land’s latest album, Wishbone, has met with rave reviews and it's developed quite the underground following. We chatted with the beautiful blonde (also known as Nanna Øland Fabricius) while she was on the road with her latest tour.

Playboy: You were in Ottawa last night deejaying for an H&M opening. How’d that go?

Oh Land: I played last night for H&M and I just woke up, I was out quite late. I was playing with my band and singing, of course, for about 30 minutes, then deejayed the rest of the night. I don’t do that too often. I actually have a joke DJ name, which is DJ Kevin. I’ve done it twice in my life, but it’s fun every time.

Playboy: Music seems to be second nature for you. What got you started?

Oh Land: I’ve always been singing and dancing quite secretly. I think what got me started taking it seriously was that I had to stop dancing as a ballet dancer when I was 19. That made me realize how important music is as a part of dance. And then once I started playing and writing I just couldn’t stop again. It wasn’t like, “Now I want to be a musician”; it just happened very naturally.

Playboy: Is your writing regimen pretty freestyle or do you have to sit yourself down and write?

Oh Land: It can be many different situations. The last song I wrote, it was in customs in Canada. [laughs] It’s wonderful when that happens, you get this hit of inspiration and you just have to write right now and look like an idiot because everyone around can see you move your mouth and have this really strange look in your eyes, but it happens sometimes and that’s wonderful. But most of the time I go to the piano and start playing around and eventually something sticks out to me as interesting or triggers something in me.

Playboy: I know that you come from quite a musical family. Do you collaborate with them at all on your projects?

Oh Land: I have, actually. My mom sang opera in one of my songs on my first album called Fauna, and my dad, I actually work with him quite often in orchestrating my music for symphony orchestras. I did a bunch of concerts in Denmark with a symphony orchestra and he did the arrangements with me. We’re doing another batch of them in fall 2014; we’re working on it right now. It’s like being a 10-year-old in a toy shop and being able to pick whatever you want. There are so many instruments and they can just do spectacular things. And for every instrument there is a person that has trained for years and years and years. It’s a real honor.

Playboy: With your new album, Wish Bone, out in the world, what’s been the most interesting reaction you’ve gotten thus far?

Oh Land: The most positive reaction I’ve had, which has been pretty general across the board, is that everyone who knows me, my friends and my family, have all been very clear in saying that this is the album that reflects my personality the most. They’ve all been saying it in different times; it’s giving me the courage that no matter what people think about this, it’s just me. It’s not fashion, it’s not dressing, it’s really who I am. So if people critique it, it hurts less in a way because this is not a choice, this is really who I am.

Playboy: I read somewhere that you were influenced by horror films while you were writing this album.

Oh Land: I love horror movies and thrillers. I’ve been watching a lot, I watch at least four movies a week I think. Watching movies is one of my favorite things to do. In the song “Kill My Darling,” I do this whisper thing in one part and I pan it from one side to the other so when you listen to it in the headphones you don’t quite know where I am. It sounds like I am right next to your ear, and then suddenly I am on the other side of you. It’s quite creepy and it’s a classic horror movie thing. I had a lot of fun doing things like that and secret messages in Danish. [laughs]

Playboy: You’re out touring a lot at the moment. What’s been your craziest story from the road?

Oh Land: Oh, it’s definitely from the other night when I fell in a well. I tend to fall into voids. I’m really clumsy and it always surprises the people I’m with because I can be an elegant ballet dancer but in real life I can be the clumsiest person ever. So we were walking to the tour bus in Michigan and it was pitch black. I was walking about 10 steps ahead of the rest of the band and suddenly I just disappeared from the ground. Somebody had an open well in their yard and I just fell down and caught myself last minute. I was just hanging there, holding on. They pulled me up but I hurt [my legs] real bad... But it could’ve gone way worse -- I could’ve died. It was very horror film. But the cool thing about it was it was kind of like Alice in Wonderland; afterward I just imagined that after throwing my entire body down a well I could probably make a few huge wishes.

Playboy: The “Renaissance Girls” video was so witty; I really enjoyed the story and choreography. Are you very hands-on with your music videos?

Oh Land: Yeah, very much. Actually, after this interview I’m going to talk to the director of my next video, who also directed “Renaissance Girls,” to start writing a script for the next video I’m going to do for “Green Card.” I am very involved. For instance, all the characters that we’re developing for “Green Card” are people from my real life that we are rewriting. It’s very interesting and I love incorporating choreography as much as I can because I’ve been dancing for so long. Because I love movies so much it’s just such a fun thing to do.

Playboy: You were also in South Africa filming a movie called The Salvation. How did that come about?

Oh Land: I got a call from the casting director saying that the director really could see me in this role and wondered if I wanted to go through casting. So I did, in both London and L.A., and they picked me! I was very lucky. South Africa was amazing. Because I’m such a film nut it was so interesting to be a part of it and see it from the inside. There were so many surprising things that I just wouldn’t know. Then just playing around with Mads Mikkelsen, who is a pretty amazing actor and person. That was just a trip.

*Playboy.com: *What’s your…

Favorite food: I ate fish and chips last night. That was amazing!

Favorite drink: Whiskey on the rocks: Woodford Reserve.

Worst pickup line: I tend to just forget bad pickup lines to save people from the humiliation.

Most embarrassing moment: I’ve got lots of them, but I guess it was when I fell down a stage in front of 20,000 people in London. I was supporting Katy Perry, and as I said before I seem to fall into things.

First memory of Playboy: Actually I have a collection of vintage Playboy magazines from the ’60s. They’re really beautiful but I’m really happy they’ve invented HD cameras and Photoshop.


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