Konradsen, the duo of vocalist and pianist Jenny Marie Sabel and multi-instrumentalist Eirik Vildgren, trace their roots to the far north of Norway, where the black night of winter is backlit by the neon glow of the Northern Lights. It’s a fitting metaphor for the music the pair crafts — tradition meets innovation, while the natural world glimmers overhead.
Inspired by the folksongs and hymns Sabel sang with her family as a child, and the modern pop music she and Vildgren listen to as adults, Konradsen weaves Sabel’s soulful vocals with field recordings, samples and ambient foley. These voices of past and present dance over minimalist piano, atmospheric electronics, programmed beats and organic horns, forming a sonic tapestry that foregrounds the people close to Konradsen.
Sabel grew up in an intentional community in a small village surrounded by tight-knit families and by the sound of her family’s piano. Vildgren had a similar upbringing, also in the northern part of their country, where as a teenager he spent much time at a community center on the island of Senja. There he connected with other local artists and musicians, and today helps organize its annual music festival. The pair met in high school, and later moved to Oslo to attend university.
As they began writing their first songs together, they naturally included glimpses of the many people who nurtured and inspired them along the way. Most often revealed as textures in the broader composition, flickers of voices from old home movies, or snippets of conversations with friends, these moments are layered across the duo’s 2019 debut album, Saints and Sebastian Stories. Recorded with lauded Norwegian producer Kåre Vestrheim at Propeller Recordings, and at Vildgren’s home studio, Saints and Sebastian Stories is a tender thread between past and present, elevating human interconnectedness through a journey in friendship and quiet reflection.
Konradsen’s newest offering, an EP titled Rodeo No. 5, was created as an extension of their album, while exploring different approaches to songwriting. “While last year’s album was crafted meticulously, this EP is focused on fleeting, immediate moments — trying to capture the raw fragments that drift by in everyday life,” they explain. “It’s an ode to the small choices we make everyday.”
Just as on Saints and Sebastian Stories, Konradsen assembles friends to contribute their voices, as heard on the EP’s opening track “Give It Back To The Feelings,” where a chorus joins Sabel on the refrain: “Give back to the mothers who / stayed through hell for you / like a flower.”
The EP's title track also includes voices of Konradsen's community; sample-based and subtly beat-driven, they explain “Rodeo No. 5” is meant to feel open and loose, “something in between a song and an interlude.” Repeating small phrases like “No it isn’t the same,” that harken back to their previous material, with disparate layers that continuously ebb and flow, it suggests that Konradsen’s songs are akin to stories — self-referential, passed down, told and re-told again.