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Oh Land “Sun of a Gun” (Influenza)

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Nanna Øland Fabricius’ life has offered the vocalist an interesting series of events that, had the Dane had her way, would have likely never materialized into a career in music. While born to a classically trained opera singer, Fabricius adopted an obsession for dance as a child, and by the age of 10 she had enrolled in ballet classes. She actively followed her passion all the way to Stockholm where she enrolled in a prominent dance school, but at the age of 18 she was struck with a devastating back injury that crippled her chances of pursuing her dream. After a period of uncertainty and confusion, Fabricius made the decision to return to her roots and utilize her musical talents which had been nurtured from a young age. Moving to the Williamsburg in New York, and adopting the stage name of Oh Land in the process, Fabricius released her first EP in 2008, simply titled Fauna.

She has since gained attention for not only her dreamy, atmospheric pop, but also her paralyzing beauty; a combination which becomes even more overwhelming in the live setting. “A tall, stunningly gorgeous Danish woman takes center stage, looking like a hipster Heidi Klum, with a DJ/beat specialist off to the left,” described NYC Taper of a performance earlier this year. “It is perfection.” Now with a second EP to behind her, the singer has turned her attention to her full-length debut which will be released early in 2011 via Epic. “My criteria was to only write songs I couldn’t live without,” she explained to Interview Magazine recently. One can only imagine that she had a track like “Sun of a Gun” in mind when making such a statement. The song accurately showcases Fabricius’ simple vocal style, casting it alongside a fairly nondescript pop beat. It is the combination of the two, however, that magically materializes as an irresistible musical delicacy. In this edition of Influenza, Fabricius explains the creation of the song, its melody, and discusses the video which was released in support of the track.


Last summer I watched a beautiful sunset over Griffith Park and after three months of L.A. heat I wished the sun would stay down. This absurd thought inspired the title “Sun of a Gun,” a story about love. It’s about being stuck in rotation around someone who is not good for you. The feeling of wanting to release yourself from this person but not being able to. The sun is playing the main character. We’re dependent on it and rotate around it but it can be dangerous if it’s too much and we need to protect ourselves from it.

I often find that I get inspired to write songs from really silly thoughts. Conversations that make me laugh or a crazy idea… it triggers my creativity because it makes me see things in a new way. There are often many layers and different meanings in my lyrics. Like with “Sun of a Gun.” It’s a love story but also a tale about nature and the sun. “Once burnt twice shy, too much of your light made me blind.”

Melodically I draw a lot of inspiration from old music, like spirituals, psalms and classical music and then I like to put them into a really modern production. The contrast is interesting. When we took the song into production we wanted to have as few but important elements in as possible. I worked together with Dave McCracken and I think we pretty much had the whole concept of the song within half an hour. I started singing this “oo” rhythmic thing that is the main vocal through the whole track. We always base all production around my vocal harmonies and concepts. With this song I was inspired by a mix between Laurie Anderson’s “Oh Superman” and Björk’s Medulla. I like to draw from as many different genres and directions as possible. That’s when music will sound different and interesting, I think.

In the video we created this magical snow landscape. The directors, thirtytwo, came over from London and we had a lot of fun making this shoot. We wanted to show different sides of me, when the sun is up and when the sun is down. How that affects me. Like I was possessed by a force of nature. When you are in love you also feel out of control and strongly affected by the person you love. I was improvising the whole dance sequence but I had to always remember exactly what I did because we were editing between the two costume sets and it had to look smooth. I also had to learn the song in half speed and double tempo because they would do some fun things with it in post to make it feel other worldly and mysterious. It was very fun to play with all the things you can do in a simple setting.