Industry Talk: Darling West

When couple Mari and Tor Egil went on a trip to the mountains eight years ago, they had no idea it would result in playing and writing their first song together. 4 albums later, the now married duo goes under the name Darling West.

Skrevet av Tina Brodal 14.09.2020

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With their Cosmic Folk/Americana-sound and vibrant live shows they have already captured hearts of music lovers at South By South West, Folk Alliance International and AmericanaFest, to name some. Now the duo is taking part in Global Music Match, the largest online matchmaking of musicians ever undertaken.

“Tell us about yourself, who are you and how did you how did you come together as a band?”

We’re a duo called Darling West playing Americana/Cosmic Folk, based out of Norway. We are married and were actually a couple long before we started playing together. On one of our trips to the mountains for vacation, about eight years ago, we brought our instruments along with the intention of just having fun playing some traditional old-time songs together. Mari had just bought her first mandolin and could hardly play, and Tor had his old banjo.

While up there a melody appeared that also got lyrics to it during the week, and we had written our first song together. We loved how it felt writing and playing together like that and started spending more time doing it, and suddenly we had a little band project going on. But it was not until after we had released our second album that we started getting really serious about it. From the beginning it was just a little side track to our busy lives as a working musician (Tor) and a florist (Mari). But with the wonderful response that we got on our songwriting, recordings and live shows, we felt like it was actually something there that could grow into something bigger. And it has. Now it’s the main part of our professional (and personal) lives. We play both as a duo and a four-piece band. When we’re able we bring our musicians/friends, Christer Slaaen and Thomas Gallatin, along.

“Can you tell us a bit about your music, how would you describe it?”

We would call it Americana (Nordicana, if you like) or Folk. They’re both wide genres that contain a lot of influences. We draw inspiration from American Country Rock music and the more Folky styles of the 60´s and 70´s, such as Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Fleetwood Mac and Jackson Browne. And on the more contemporary side, acts like Blake Mills, Ethan Gruska and Sufjan Stevens.

We started out in a dogmatic fashion with only acoustic instruments, rooted in the bluegrass/old-time scene. But over the last few years we’ve introduced more Pop elements in both our songwriting and live performances, adding more electric instruments, drums and keyboards. Now we’re trying to coin the phrase Cosmic Folk, since we’re bending the Folk genre by adding some West Coast and Pop in there.

“What inspires you when creating music?”

Nature, for sure. We normally go up to the Norwegian mountains to write music, to get close to the beautiful scenery and to find peace and quiet to get dedicated work done. Whenever we’re out on tour or traveling otherwise, we like to take the scenic routes to get the most out of the trip and see new places.

Then there’s other people’s music of course. We love listening to music in the car while driving, discovering both old and new artists that can give us a new take on existence or inspire the craft, or generally widen our perspectives.

“You are selected as one of the participants of Global Music Match, tell us a bit about the program?”

It’s a worldwide program where export agencies from different countries have selected artists to participate. They are then put into international constellations with six acts in each group, where they are to present each other’s music through their SoMe channels over the course of six weeks. Each artist gets one featured week and during that week their music and story will be spread by all the other acts in the group.

“What do you hope to achieve during the 6 weeks of the program?”

First of all, it’s a great way to stay connected to the outside world, especially in these times when we’re not able to travel abroad and meet new people like we normally do. It feels good to get to look above our own experience of the pandemic and to hear how other artists cope with the situation (there´s a lot of Zoom meetings). Also we’re really enjoying diving into the music of some artists that we might not have come across if it wasn’t for this program.

Apart from that it is of course a great way to spread the word about our own music. We released an album in February this year, which turned out to not be the perfect timing, since our whole tour was cancelled due to the pandemic. Now it might reach some corners of the world that we didn’t expect in the first place.

“The program has an export focus, what are your ambitions as a band internationally?”

We’re dabbling in a musical landscape (and write songs in English) that we feel have a somewhat limited audience here in Norway. So ever since we got some unexpected attention from the States, due to being added to some big Spotify playlists after our second record was released, we have been looking at markets abroad as well as here in our own country. We’ve been touring in the States a couple of times a year for the last four years, playing at music industry festivals like South By South West, Folk Alliance International and AmericanaFest, and also traveling around the country playing venues, radio stations and festivals. Earlier this year we also played the UK equivalent to Nashville’s AmericanaFest in London. Apart from that we´ve toured in Germany and the Netherlands, and would love to try to expand as a touring act in Europe in general.

“What is the best advice you have ever received?”

To be true to ourselves and believe in our own music. It’s so easy to get distracted by all the influences coming through the social media world and start thinking that one should do something differently all the time, whether it being ones’ appearance or music, to gain more success. But the best you can do is stick with your own gut feeling and there will always be people who will appreciate your perspective. You will benefit greatly from being true to your own art, also because you’ll be able to work harder and last longer, when it’s close to your heart.

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