For Singer Ane Brun, 'Freedom Is Really An Absence Of Fear' "Let your mind and body rest so it can heal." That's the mantra that inspired the Norwegian artist on her latest album, When I'm Free.
NPR logo

For Singer Ane Brun, 'Freedom Is Really An Absence Of Fear'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/465594809/465901889" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
For Singer Ane Brun, 'Freedom Is Really An Absence Of Fear'

For Singer Ane Brun, 'Freedom Is Really An Absence Of Fear'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/465594809/465901889" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Late 2012 was a difficult time for Norwegian singer Ane Brun. Health problems forced her to cancel a North American tour with Peter Gabriel. But the break from the rigors of the road led to a new frame of mind and a burst of creativity that led to her latest album. It is called "When I'm Free."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACK NOTEBOOK")

ANE BRUN: (Singing) I want to feel free, yeah. I want to be me. I want to be the best I can be with you.

MARTIN: Ane Brun is now visiting the States and she'll soon be taping a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR, so be on the lookout for that. But now Ane Brun joins us from our studios in New York to talk about her new album and its evolution. Thanks for being with us.

BRUN: Hi.

MARTIN: Your new album came out of some hard stuff. Can you walk me back to that time in 2012 and what was going on with you?

BRUN: Well, since I was 27, I've had the diagnosis of lupus, like the autoimmune disease. And it's been kind of on and off for years, but in 2012, I got a, like, a huge flare again and I ended up in the hospital. There have been things that have been quite dramatic. Like, I've had blood clots, but coming out of that period of sickness, I kind of started to - I don't know what happened. But I got kind of an enlightenment somehow and also freedom because I feel that freedom is really an absence of fear.

MARTIN: So how did you channel it? How did you take what had happened to you? And you turned it around. And you said you felt free for the first time. How did that become a creative outlet?

BRUN: It wasn't really conscious that the album would be about that. But a lot of the songs talked about new opportunities. And I remember writing the song "Directions" on the album, which is a song about open doors and opportunities. And that song was actually a song that I wrote a few years back with lyrics that were the opposite.

MARTIN: Let's listen to some of this song and then let's talk more about it on the other side.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIRECTIONS")

BRUN: (Singing) I see doors in every direction. I see them all wide open. As I go near, they won't close on me, won't close on me. They won't close on me.

MARTIN: Those are the new lyrics that you say you rewrote. What did they say before that was a different message?

BRUN: Well, they were kind of the opposite (laughter), kind of - there are no open doors.

(LAUGHTER)

BRUN: So it's kind of very symptomatic, too, to the change in a way. You know, I haven't been depressed or sad all through these years. But that issue has been like a companion in a way.

MARTIN: Can I ask you about the video to this song?

BRUN: Yes, please.

MARTIN: It's cool.

BRUN: Thank you.

MARTIN: It's you in this warehouse kind of setting. You're dressed all in black, and you're - it's just you, dancing.

BRUN: Yeah.

MARTIN: And it reminded me of the Drake video (laughter) that got a whole lot of attention because it's just him doing his moves.

BRUN: Oh.

MARTIN: But he's not a good dancer.

BRUN: (Laughter).

MARTIN: And you are a good dancer.

BRUN: I'm glad you think so.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIRECTIONS")

BRUN: (Singing) Step one, step. Step two, step.

I used to dance all the time when I was a teenager. I was a quite serious rhythmic gymnast.

MARTIN: Rhythmic gymnast, wow.

BRUN: Yeah. I did that for, like, my whole teens, every day, very seriously.

MARTIN: Let's listen to another track off the album. This one we're going to play is called "You Lit My Fire."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU LIT MY FIRE")

BRUN: (Singing) They changed our game. I want to kiss the feet of all those women. Spray my body in gold. Engrave myself with their names.

MARTIN: This is a pretty, just, straight-up celebration of women who inspired you, a kind of feminist anthem, I suppose.

BRUN: Oh, yeah.

MARTIN: Can you talk about how it came together?

BRUN: It was during the elections in Sweden a couple of years ago. And there's - Sweden is actually one of the few countries that has a feminist party. And there was a lot of discussions around feminism. And I feel that feminism is something that - as long as we don't have equality between men and women, we need feminism. If you look at the statues that people put up in the cities, there are not many statues of the feminists, the women who actually fought a really serious battle and sacrificed a lot, even their lives. And I feel that that reflects how we look upon them. We don't respect their place in history somehow. I just wanted to make a positive song that was a homage to these women that I feel don't get the respect that they earned.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU LIT MY FIRE")

BRUN: (Singing) Nothing can hold me back. Oh, you lit my fire.

MARTIN: You revealed to me that you're turning 40.

BRUN: It's in March.

MARTIN: In March...

BRUN: Yep.

MARTIN: ...So soon. And like it or not, in Western culture, this is a marker. Do you feel it coming on in a certain kind of way? I mean, are you thinking about what you want to be as an artist in this next chapter of your life?

BRUN: I kind of feel that it's very exciting.

(LAUGHTER)

BRUN: Of course, I can get some panic sometimes. But I think that the panic is just the society's expectations, maybe. I fill my life with things that matters to me and that I am true to myself. I don't really mind that time passes by. So I guess that's what my goal is, to keep on being true to myself and also keep developing my music. And that's what I did on this album. I felt I really was playing about with it and just pressing my limits and just see what happens.

MARTIN: Ane Brun - her new album is called "When I'm Free."

Sounds like you already are. She joined us from our studios in New York. Ane, thanks so much.

BRUN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MISS YOU MORE")

BRUN: (Singing) Ah...

MARTIN: Our theme music was written by BJ Leiderman. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.