While in New York for a September Bowery Ballroom gig promoting her new album, Whispers, Danish singer Tina Dico visited the new Skagen Times Square store.
The Many Moods and Melodies of Singer Tina Dico
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Few voices are as warm and honest as that of Tina Dico. When touring across Europe or the US, it’s often just Dico and “a few of these guitars.” Clearly, she’s independent at heart. It’s no surprise that Dico started Finest Gramophone, her own record label, in order to release her albums and make them accessible to a wider audience. But it’s her drive to share, and the warmth she emanates, that’s made her Dico of the most popular performers at the Skagen Festival, year after year. We caught up with Dico just before concert dates in New York and LA to ask a few questions about her music, her method and, of course, her Danish roots.
Skagen Journal: How did you decide to go into music?
Tina Dico: I was 20 when I decided to try for a career in music. I had been writing songs for ten years but never had the courage to share them with anyone. But at 20, I finally took the plunge. Determined to stay in control of my material, I started my own record label, went into the studio with a bunch of songs and self-released my debut album 'Fuel'. Since then it's been the most amazing journey in music and travels.
Skagen: How does being Danish affect your work? (Can you cite a specific song or example?)
TD: I'm from a part of Denmark where people are generally quite quiet, calm and understated. We think before we speak. We're careful. I think that affects my writing a great deal. A lot of thought and time and thoroughness goes into it. I feel the most at home in my music when it's quiet and reflective. Denmark, like Scandinavia, is also a place of striving for simplicity and clean sparse lines.
You only have to listen to 'The Woman Downstairs'; the first song on my new album 'Whispers' to hear that simplicity is key for me: Voice and guitar, describing a short, longful moment in time. The sound of the music is not very Danish, I suppose, but my approach very much is.
Skagen: What about your Danish roots remain important to you?
TD: I love traditions and, perhaps because my life on the road is crazy and chaotic, I treasure a lot of the customs and cultural traits from Denmark and my upbringing there. There's a great down-to-earth-ness that has kept me grounded throughout everything. And then of course our very special term "hygge" which means coziness and is something we're trying to add to most situations. Even at my concerts - I like there to be an element of "hygge.” That's soooo Danish!
Skagen: What aspect of your Danish background do you enjoy sharing as you tour the world?
TD: I travel with an open mind and of course the main thing I want to share is the music. I write songs in the hope that my audiences will relate to the thoughts and emotions described and to put themselves into the music. I like the idea that I might be building a few little bridges - between man and woman, young and old, left and right and between countries. Traditionally Denmark is very much built on the idea that we're all equal and alike - which is very comforting - and that's the idea I'd like to convey. We're all in this together.
Skagen: What are you listening to now?
TD: I'm doing a bit of an experiment right now: I put on the sound of the ocean and birds chirping in the background in our living room instead of music. It's actually so meditative! It immediately gives you that summer vibe of being on holiday by the beach. Could be in Skagen, haha! Those are some of the most beautiful beaches Denmark has to offer.
But of music, right now my husband, Helgi Jónsson, is working on his next album in our in-house studio so I listen to the new and amazing stuff he comes up with every day!
Photographed by Luciana Pampalone