Season 2, Episode 12:
For the finale of Season 2, Melody A.M. makes a return visit to Norway, with an episode dedicated to singer-songwriter, Vårin Strand, who releases her music under the name Vaarin.
Vaarin hails from Hokksund, a small town about an hour’s drive from Oslo, and she first started writing songs in her early teens. There was a lot of jazz and folk music playing in her home when she was growing up and, while this musical background fed into the sound of her debut album, which came out in 2018, over the years her music has moved much more into the realm of pop. Mind you, there is still a nod to her formative influences in everything she does.
2023 was a big year for Vaarin with the release of her second long-player, The Identity of Belonging. The first single from the album, 'Dark Matter', with its percussive rhythm section and cinematic feel, called to mind the universe of Agnes Obel’s album, Citizen of Glass. The subsequent singles from the record each built on Vaarin's evolved approach and there was even some experimentation with her voice, as demonstrated on the ethereal, ghost-like crescendo of the song, 'Angel'.
Joining forces with her close friend, MIIA - another impressive Norwegian singer-songwriter - 2023 also saw Vaarin release a duet called 'Skin of a Fool', which is up there among our favourite tracks of the year. In our interview, we talk about the rather poignant lyrics to that song and explore whether harshness towards oneself, a theme which the song looks at, is actually embedded in janteloven, the Nordic social attitude of disapproval towards expressions of individuality and personal success.
Vaarin tells Doron about the tough times that inspired the writing of her first record and how it helped her overcome that period in her life. She also gives Melody A.M. an insight into her work on her next album, which she started crafting earlier this year.
Towards the end of this episode, you’ll be able to hear an exclusive acoustic version of 'Dark Matter', which Vaarin has kindly shared with us.
Below you can check out a recommended playlist with highlights from Vaarin's discography.