9th June 2022
Interview: Amy Bell
Photo Credit: Mathias Christensen
Millions upon millions of streams, radio hits, sold-out concerts, and an MTV award: Nicklas Sahl has turned many years of hard work into huge pop star levels of success in his homeland of Denmark. But the breakthrough has reminded him to hold on to his own dreams, and that is the central theme he explores on his new album ‘God Save The Dream’ which is out now.
Thanks for talking to us, what does ‘God Save The Dream’, mean to you?
To me it’s all about protecting myself from forgetting why I do what I do. I picked up a guitar when I was 4 years old and started in music school when I was 7. Music has always been my safe space and that one thing I know I’m good at, and where I’m not afraid of stealing everyone’s attention and show people who I am. When I started releasing music in 2018 it all went really fast, and as this wave grew larger and larger the more affected I got by how the music was doing on charts and all that. In general I just spent too much time worrying about my own and other’s expectations. For this album I needed to get rid of all that and just lean into my love for making music. It can sound as a simple task, but it was a big challenge for me to keep out all the noise that I tried to escape, and actually just get back to trusting my guts and see where it would take me.
Have you ever had a time when you thought that the dream is too far away and you have stopped chasing the dream for a little while?
I like the idea of always being one step away from world domination, haha. I think it’s just something that drives me. I think it would be more stressful for me to stop thinking that way. I don’t know if it’s perhaps an age thing, but I don’t strive for “just” being satisfied. I’m a competitive person who always seeks new challenges and my ambitions are what gets me up in the morning. On the other hand, I truly am extremely grateful for being able to be an artist for a living, and the older I get the more nervous I seem to get about losing what I have.
What is the dream that you are trying to achieve and how do you think you will achieve that?
My dream is to come out and perform for as many people as possible. I see myself first and foremost as a live musician. Throughout my life I’ve grown an addiction to the experience of standing in front of an audience. On stage is where I feel the most safe as well as acknowledged. Sometimes I close my eyes and pretend I’m on a world tour in a huge nightliner bus with my band and my crew. I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m made for. In terms of how I’m gonna achieve it there’s still a long way to go, but I think the most important thing is to keep going for it with all I have while still being able to enjoy the process. I dream about becoming a star for sure, but I wanna be a happy star, you know. Otherwise, I don’t think it’s worth it.
Can you tell us a bit about the writing and recording process when it came to ‘God Save The Dream’?
It was an incredible journey making this album. It started with me sitting in a summer house I’d rented down by the water. I’d bought a notebook for writing wherein only real and important lines were allowed to be written. First line I wrote down was “I’ve never felt less like me…”. That’s when I knew I’d reached a point where I needed to make a body of work – simply to feel like me again, I guess. There are multiple songwriter-collaborations on the album, but I’ve spent most of the time writing on my own. When the songs were written we rented one of the coolest studios in Denmark and spent 15 days recording the whole thing with the most amazing musicians. The whole process was all very old-fashioned. I loved that!
What was it like growing up in Denmark and what music influences that you had growing up?
Obviously, I’ve never tried growing up other places than in Denmark so I don’t really know how it is compared to anywhere else, but I’d say I’ve had a very safe and what I would call a very normal, stable childhood. I played a lot of football and a lot of music. In my teens I listened a lot to Danish as well as international singer & songwriters like John Mayer as well as James Blake and whatever comes close to that. Denmark is a small country with a big safety net. I think that’s probably one of the reasons I’ve never really met anyone who advised me not to go after my dream of becoming an artist, although, as we all might know, it’s probably not the safest career choice. I don’t know, but I think perhaps that would have been different if I had grown up in the US for instance.
What is next for you in terms of your music and any shows coming up?
I’m playing festivals in Denmark this summer and then I’m facing a big fall with a lot of things happening. I’m in one of the most watched TV shows in Denmark called “Top of the Pop” which will run in the fall, followed by a support tour in Germany that is yet to be announced, and finally a large-scale tour in Denmark starting in October. I’m beyond excited about everything and I can’t describe how happy it makes me to be facing what seems to be a rather pandemic-free world again.