Spotlight – meet Sandra North (10th August 2020)

In my Spotlight category, I am dealing with another interesting artist. Sandra North is originally from Trosa South of Stockholm. However, she decided to pursue her musical career and moved to Los Angeles in order to improve her skills. Her latest single You has been released just about a month ago. Hope you enjoying reading about the story of this Scandinavian artist. meets Sandra North

FLYC: You are Swedish, living in Los Angeles. Both countries / regions have been hit quite hard by Covid-19. How have the last weeks and months been for you?

Sandra: It’s been different but good. We’ve definitely had to readjust to life in quarantine and the new “normal” but luckily as a musician there are always things to do. Me and my guitarist/producer Juan Abella write and record our songs together and fortunately we had spent a lot of time previously in the studio right before the pandemic hit. Therefore we’ve stayed occupied with a lot of post production work as editing, promotion of songs, planning new releases etc. I also believe something good always comes out of every situation and there’s always a lot to learn. We’ve had to figure out how to reach out to our audience in a different way now for example, and therefore done a lot of live streams that have connected us with people from all over the world. That I’m very thankful for. I also feel lucky to have gotten to sit this through from Hollywood rather than Sweden where rules aren’t as strict or enforced as much. I’ve been very worried for my family and stay close connected with them from here. Fortunately everyone’s safe and healthy.

FLYC: Your first steps in the music industry have been in the event management industry in Sweden. What kind of music and events have you worked in at that time?

Sandra: I started doing events and concerts through my college. I actually have a music and event planning degree so I worked on different productions like the Stockholm Film Festival, Swedish Idol, Melodifestivalen and Wallmans Salonger. I later worked for an event and youth house in Nyköping called Slakthuset during a few years, where I was mainly in charge of booking artists and taking care of all the arrangements for a summer festival called Typ En Festival. I was also in charge of artists for the town festival called Nyköpings Festdagar for three years in a row. It was a lot of fun!

FLYC: Finally, in 2015, you decided to move to Los Angeles. Was there any special event which happened for you to take that decision or just something that grew over time?

Sandra: I think it was life that finally brought me to that decision. There were a lot of things that had to fall into place for me to take that step. First I had to overcome my fear of singing in front of people which slowly got better as I started seeing a vocal coach. I had also started to travel a lot to America and so I started getting my feet wet so to speak. I even lived in Santa Barbara for 6 months back in 2013 to try it out. After that, I just knew I needed to go back! I always knew I wanted to live in America, it just took me a while to figure things out. It was probably also the fact that I was getting older and I wasn’t happy. I needed a change and I owed it to myself to figure out what makes my life fulfilled. That missing piece was music!

FLYC: You opted to enroll at Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Why did you go for that decision?

Sandra: Musicians Institute is a great contemporary music school right in the middle of the entertainment capital of the world. I had heard of it before but I never thought I would ever apply myself. I still remember the date I got the acceptance call. It changed my life forever. I couldn’t be happier with the education I received and the connections and support it brought.

FLYC: Looking back, I read that you played the flute, the piano and you were also part of a choir in your childhood years. What made you go into country music?

Sandra: Growing up in a small town in Sweden and loving music didn’t really give you a lot of options. I played the flute for a lot of years and even participated in the orchestra. I’ve always been singing and joined any choir I could find. I taught myself the piano a bit cause I really wanted to play! Country music came into my life after I got to know some Americans from the South and when me and my sister went travelling cross country in America in 2012. In Sweden it barely existed and in the Southern states it’s everywhere! It was impossible to resist the charm of it and I fell in love immediately. Later on, when I started to sing, it just came naturally.

FLYC: Are there any music acts – country and non-country – which especially influenced you on your musical development?

Sandra: I was raised on a lot of classic rock and pop back home in Sweden. My dad listened to tons of Status Quo, Queen, AC/DC and Bon Jovi. My mom instead gave me Madonna, Cher, Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston, amongst others. During my teens I also discovered Celine Dion, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and I believe I carry all those ladies with me to this day. I love a good strong voice and some attitude, I’d say my biggest influences today are Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Kip Moore.

FLYC: Country music is quite big in the States – but what is the situation of the genre in Sweden?

Sandra: Growing up in Sweden there wasn’t a lot of country music available. I remember a song or two that I heard as a little girl. Of course the really big artists like Dolly Parton and Shania Twain reached across the ocean but in general, country wasn’t really played on the radio unless it crossed over to pop. Today, I’m happy to see it’s growing and that more people have taken that culture in. Country music is a community and finally Scandinavia is starting to join in!

FLYC: You partnered up with Juan Abella, who is a singer/songwriter and also the guitarist in your band. What do you especially appreciate about that collaboration?

Sandra: There are almost too many things to mention that I appreciate and will forever be thankful for with our partnership. For me personally, I needed someone I could trust and someone that knew me well for me to open up and start showing my ideas and lyrics. Juan and I have a really close friendship and foundation which makes working together so much easier and better. I’ve learned so much from him as a seasoned songwriter and producer and we keep inspiring each other and pushing one another forward. It’s nice to have a strong team and to know someone has your back all the time.

FLYC: From being in the music industry management to stepping out on stage and becoming a performing artist, what virtue did you learn most apart from technical skills?

Sandra: I might have taken the backdoor into the music industry by working behind the scenes as a start, and that probably happened because I was too scared to step out on that stage myself. Today, I’m so happy to have all that knowledge as well. I feel like I see the full picture in a different way and everything I’ve done previously all comes together now. It helps me tremendously in my own work today with my own brand and music. I also know better what to look for, what to expect from people I work with and how the industry moves.

FLYC: Your debut single, Try Again was released just about a year ago. What is the story behind that song?

Sandra: Try Again is the first song I’ve ever written so it will always be very special to me. I wrote the lyrics in the moment, when life happens. We all have that passionate love story that ended way too quickly and that we’d want another chance at. Rekindling that fire and not knowing the outcome is what the story is about. It laid dormant for about 7 months in a notebook before I showed them to Juan, who put music to my words and brought my story to life. It was magical to me and I’m so beyond thankful.

FLYC: You were quite successful with it in a Swedish radio station, P4 Sörmland. Do you have a stronger fan base in Sweden or in the States?

Sandra: It’s very hard to say, I haven’t really tried my wings properly in Sweden yet, but thanks to friends and family I do have a lot of support back home. I was very surprised to have such a strong following who kept voting every week, keeping Try Again in the Top 5 at P4 Sörmland for such a long time. We’re extremely grateful for that. Today I’m connecting more and more with the country scene in Scandinavia, building bridges for the future.

FLYC: In February, you released Same Story ‘Bout a Broken Heart, which is a quite powerful country rock track. Again, what inspired you to that song?

Sandra: The lyrics came out of a moment of frustration and disappointment. A specific event triggered deeper thoughts of self reflection and I allowed my emotions out on paper that very night. I always write my best lyrics in the moment when life forces it out of you. I wanted the emotion of the song to reflect in the music too which I conveyed to Juan who put together the amazing instrumentation and track. It was an extremely successful day at the studio that day and there’s no better feeling than that. We’re both very happy with this song and it’s so amazing to see all the rewards once it’s done and released.

FLYC: Your current single You (released on 17th July) is much more soft and gentle compared to the songs before. What was the inspiration for that track?

Sandra: You was created with a different approach as my other guitarist KC Lau wrote the music in a songwriting class and sent it my way. The emotion of the music felt so happy and pure so I decided it needed to be a sweet love song. I wrote the lyrics with someone very special in mind and it’s directed to that one person that comes along to change everything you previously thought you knew. Juan again finalized the arrangements and put his magic touch to the song.

FLYC: What is a Sandra North concert like? What do you enjoy most when being on stage?

Haha, it’s a fun personal show with a little bit of power and attitude. I love to move and dance, too, so the beat of the music is always inside me. I love having a full band with me on stage and rocking out together. There’s no better feeling!

FLYC: What are your plans for 2020? Your website states that you are about to release an EP?

Sandra: Yes! We’re currently working on finishing up the last few songs for my debut EP. Covid-19 put some things on hold but we’re doing as much as we can from home. I aim to have it ready by fall this year. Make sure to follow me on my social media and subscribe to my YouTube and Spotify channel for all the updates to come! I also have more interviews and live streams up ahead so stay tuned!

FLYC: A non-music, but travel blogging question at the end. Your Swedish hometown Trosa, if one travels there, what are the three places or experiences you feel one should definitely do?

Sandra: Aw, it’s such a small town but it’s really beautiful in the summertime! That time of year we get a lot of tourists from all over Europe so make sure to go when it’s hot, nice and populated. During winter the city seems sleeping, but in the summer the town awakens. Trosa is beautifully located by the ocean so the first thing you should visit is the Trosa Camping or the archipelago outside of the shore. We also have a really nice harbour with stores, bars and restaurants right by the water.

The inner city boardwalk is very unique too with cobblestone and tiny small houses preserved from the 1700’s. The famous walk along the river can’t be missed either. It’s extremely wonderful. In and around the city you will also find tons of historic runes from around the 1000s. Fun fact is also that Trosa is called the End of the World. No one really knows why but it’s very well known and you’re greeted by a big sign as you enter that says, Välkommen till Trosa, världens ände.


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