Sifting through a record collection can give insight into the inner psyche of a musician. Even still, I was completely thrown for a loop when Sondre Lerche divulged one of his inspirations.

“My first heroes were A-ha,” he said. “I was completely enamored with their music.”

The 32-year-old pop musician has been playing most of his life, with no formal training.

“Music felt infectious and fun. I loved how certain harmonies and chords made me feel. And it felt like something I could take part in, said Lerche. “I tried to learn the classical guitar at 8, but I didn’t care for it at all, and didn’t recognize my initial excitement in it. I still do not know music theory or notation.”

Of learning other instruments he notes, “I’ve pretty much given up. I can lay down some chords on the piano and keep a somewhat steady drum beat, but I don’t feel at home with any instrument besides the guitar.”

Sondre Lerche

Lerche will be performing tonight at a sold-out House of Blues performance in Cleveland with St. Vincent. “I always get a kick out of seeing great performers and artists at the peak of their powers from side-stage. It’s very inspiring. Annie is a wonder,” he exclaimed.

Lerche opened up regarding the evolution of his writing process, his newest album, Please, and where he’d be with a life devoid of music. Get to know him a bit more before you catch his performance.

I read in another interview you did that the writing process has to be a solo endeavor. Can you speak a little bit about why that is?

Well, lately I’ve opened up to many different ways at arriving at a song, so I’m slowly getting into the idea of writing with others. But traditionally it has been a gruesome time I spend alone with my most vulnerable and humbling sides, and try to create something from nothing. It’s very challenging.

How do you balance being vulnerable with your writing and not overexposing your personal life? 

I don’t think much about that. I’ve always felt very exposed in my songs, the difference lies more in the audience’s interpretation of the song, and sometimes I have felt that I am perfectly clear, maybe too forward, and still people arrive at other translations of the emotion or lyrical content. And that’s fantastic.

Where do you draw the line? 

Well, in our time it’s become such an empty but effective commodity to equate quality with authenticity. Sometimes it seems certain artists forget that they actually have to turn their experiences into something. I am never interested in reading someone’s diary. You still have to turn it into art, or a pop song or something – there has to be a process. That’s important to me.

How did writing Please differ from your previous albums?

It’s looser, more urgent, more in the moment. It’s more desperate and more immediate.

How does life in Brooklyn differ from life in Norway?

Well, people are people, but the context is different. New York thrives on being the center of the universe, Norway accepts that it isn’t, but strives for a taste of what it might feel like to be at the center of attention for a moment. Norway is a social democracy, which creates an (ideally) ideal and warm society, which I like. America can be very harsh, if you run into trouble, even if it’s beyond your control.

What inspired that cover of “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus?

It was 4 am the day before Christmas and I didn’t wanna break my tradition of recording a cover of a song I liked in the year that was about to pass. Wrecking Ball just seemed accessible, not too difficult, and also a really robust song, that I could fuck with. It felt inspired, so I didn’t think too much about it.

What do you think makes experiencing music live necessary?

We wanna be together—with strangers and lovers. We want to feel what is here and now, in the same room, at the same time. That won’t go away.

If you were to lose the ability to make music, what would you find yourself doing? 

I would listen to music while baking pastries and bread.

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