Explore Music Writer Matt Jacobson talks to singer-songwriter Ragz Nordset about her influences, moving to Liverpool and her new single ‘Don’t You Forget‘
The early Ragz Nordset, was music played in the family home?
Yes, I’d say so – I had mad Grandparents that would write and perform on any occasion given (or made). A nice vinyl collection on the shelves of my childhood home also contributed a fair bit to my musical exploration growing up.
Who were your earliest musical influences?
Quickly summed up: Motown, Norwegian pop and my brother. I looked up to him and once he acquired a guitar, that quickly became a ‘must have’ for me too.
What was the first instrument you were bought and what did it bring to you, escapism a chance to be creative?
There was an upright piano in our home which I learned to play with the help of my grandmother. The guitar came a few years later. Both instruments provided space to manifest aspects of my inside-world that didn’t have an outlet. Playing and creating became a place to face myself and let whatever was going on flow freely.
Moving to Liverpool to study and creating music here, did you find yourself naturally adapting to the style of British music?
Liverpool felt very natural to me. It was stimulating to experience the differences and the versatility of the UK. There was no conscious adaptation process, rather I would say that what I had slowly merged with the new influences.
Did you adapt well to the city of Liverpool?
I am still here almost 2 decades later after having lived in many other parts of the world. I didn’t just adapt to Liverpool, I found home.
Would you class yourself as a storyteller and if so, the power of words – who or what are your influences lyrically?
I am uncertain if I am as much of a storyteller as I am someone who breaks the story apart. My influences lyrically derive from literature as much as music. The power of the word goes beyond the words themselves and I have a special love for the ones that can show you a world in one sentence. I have a weakness for Tom Waits, Bill Withers and Kate Bush, to mention only a few!
Are the words, from a personal experience or from a specific place or time?
As with many, the composition is composite. This is indeed personal experience, almost all my songs are, but they can often be approached with creative freedom in the way that I may change the protagonist or the perspective.
Are you constantly thinking about writing, or is it more mechanical and you think, now time to write a song?
It’s an urge I can or have to follow. I cannot control it or force it, but I do find that the more it’s given time and nurture, the more often the creative moments present themselves.
The new release ‘Don’t You Forget‘ – could you provide background into the writing process of the song and the concept?
This song was slow and painful. More of an emotional release really and not a concept. The song happened in stages, the chorus was echoing in my mind for a long time before I was willing to go to the piano and write out the supporting blocks for that repeated sentiment.
As I am an emotional writer, the more I faced myself the more of the song I could manifest. I was fighting inner dissonance which eventually came out in some of the chord changes.
When writing, I have to believe and mean every word and note I choose, otherwise it feels contrived to me – at times this need can be the quick death of a song, but other times like with “Don’t You Forget”, that is the very thing that brings it authentic life.
And finally, what next for Ragz Nordset?
Ahead lies the beautiful summer, research and much, much writing. I am about to commence my doctorate and am looking forward to reading and research, and how my mind and conscience will react to it all. Inspiration is the backbone of creativity for me and I am excited for what’s to come.
Thank you and very best wishes for the single and the future.
Main Cover Image Credit: Brian Roberts