Oh Land turns tragedy into triumph 


Danish diva Nanna Øland Fabricius — who records under the name Oh Land — pauses before addressing what her new third album is all about.

"There's a lot of melancholy in releasing an album, because there's a chapter of your life that you've packed into this CD," she says of Wish Bone, which was produced by TV on the Radio's David Sitek.

The album, says the dance-pop singer-songwriter, "represents the fight between the mind and the body — the 'wish' is the mind and 'bone' is the body. So it's about finding balance between your dreams and your expectations and where you actually are right now, the body you live in."

That's been a serious conflict for the art-pop artist, ever since she was a teenager at the Royal Swedish ballet school. It was there that the would-be ballerina's career prospects were cut short by a debilitating spinal fracture.

While recuperating, she started writing cathartic songs and soon realized she'd been given a second, albeit unexpected, chance at stage performance.

"I'm constantly confronted with my physical limits because I had that back injury seven years ago," says Fabricius, who still manages to show off her dance skills in choreographed videos. "I definitely found out what physical limitations mean at quite an early age. On the other hand, I have a very young mind — I still don't think like a woman. But I'm always reminded that I'm just bones and meat and everything is a struggle."

In her light, syrup-sweet trill, Fabricius addresses such insecurities on Wish Bone's opening track "Bird in an Aeroplane." And while tracks like "Renaissance Girls," with its rat-a-tat, hip-hop delivery, tackle subjects like feminism, nature is still the subject that most inspires Fabricius — even though she's now living in the heart of bustling Brooklyn.

On tour, he artist always travels with her lap dog, Ujan, a moniker that means 'Not John' in Danish. As a result, whenever her bus stops in a concrete parking lot, she's always looking for the nearest trees, which also allows her to catch a fleeting sense of peace. Likewise, as soon as she checks into any hotel, her first order of business is locating the city's nearest park.

"I don't go shopping, I don't spend time running around through the streets. I always go up in the mountains and hike or something like that, because that's where I get recharged."

Wish Bone's centerpiece, meanwhile, is the gorgeous, military-cadenced processional "Sleepy Town," which she penned about the small Danish hamlet where she grew up. "I wrote that in Los Angeles — it wasn't like I was in nature or anything," she stresses. "But it still has a very primal sound, and I felt like I was in touch with my inner caveman when I wrote it. So that nature-y sound is very present in all my songwriting. Even if I'm not in nature when I write."



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