By her early twenties Sasha Siem had written music for the London Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Opera House, Rambert Dance Company, Opera North, The Aldeburgh Festival, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, The London Sinfonietta, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. in 2010 she became one of the youngest people to win a British Composer Award. Meet British-Norwegian Singer-Songwriter and Composer Sasha Siem
Sasha Kathrine Siem was born in London 1984. At the age of 11 she read The Caged Bird by Maya Angelou, and was so struck she set about trying to transpose it into music. Her first ever song opened up something inside her. “Writing that first song set something free within me,” she has explained.
Siem studied music and poetry at Cambridge University and Harvard University. Since then, she’s constantly written, continually developing and honing her voice, moving into strikingly individual places. Today, the singer, song writer and cello performer has three albums under her belt.
Meet British-Norwegian Singer-Songwriter and Composer Sasha Siem
The artist wrote and performed a good part of her third album, Holy, when she lived in Brooklyn with her husband and new baby. She explains that she uses past experiences like motherhood, feminism and a traumatic incident from her past as inspiration for her music.
Her second album, Bird Burning, recalls Kate Bush in its fusion of the organic with the digital, while the lyrics pick apart the mythology surround Eve, and wonders why that Biblical sense of guilty still lingers in Western society’s conception of the feminine.
How will you describe your latest album ‘Holy’?
When asked how she would describe her third album, Sasha says she’s given up trying to categorize the music. She’s just calling it POP. “Holy is an arms-wide-open embrace-all pop album. I want people to sing their hearts out and dance, dance, dance as they listen,” she says.
Holy is her first album under the moniker Frigga – a reference to the Norse goddess of love and destiny. Regardless of the name she’s performing under, Siem makes music that will be familiar to anyone who’s heard her work before; lyrics are chanted over hypnotic instrumentation to create pop-tinged poetry that wouldn’t be out of place in a dance club or a world-class concert hall.
The video was filmed in Siem’s New York living room in an effort to keep things feeling close and cozy.
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Many parallels have been drawn
While parallels have been drawn with pioneering singer-songwriters such as Tom Waits, Jacques Brel, Björk, and Joanna Newsom, the influence of art-song composers such as György Kurtág, Claude Vivier, and Salvatore Sciarrino is equally evident in her music.
The Guardian noted that Siem is “making waves in the music scene”, while CBS has hailed her as a “woman of note” and a talent to watch.
Her three albums
Sasha explains: “My ﬁrst album, Most of the Boys, was written from the vantage point of ‘me’ – one individual persona – a young woman coming of age, wanting to believe in love and failing at it over and over again. The second album, Bird Burning, was a story about a couple and the dynamic between the two. My third album is a series of anthems – it’s about the collective experience – the things that make us human, the aspects of our cosmos that unite us. So, in a way it completes a cycle of expansion I wanted to create – from ME, to WE.”
Meet British-Norwegian Singer-Songwriter and Composer Sasha Siem, written by Tor Kjolberg