Industry Talk: Sarah Winona Sortland

Meet Sarah from Indianer – an independent company thats represents artists such as Highasakite, Dagny and Bernhoft

Skrevet av Rebeca 29.07.2017

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Sarah Winona Sortland works at promotion and management company, Indianer. She has a master degree in Art Criticism and Cultural Mediation, and has also been a freelance culture journalist for several Norwegian newspapers. We in Music Norway where lucky to have here as an intern in 2013, after her six months at the Norwegian Consulate in New York.

What has been your focus lately? I’ve been the press manager for Slottsfjellfestivalen (which was held from 12-15 of July), so that has taken up a great deal of my time. Even though I have worked with festivals earlier, this was something completely different, and I loved being a part of it. I get a kick out of the feeling of urgency, that everything is happening at once, and the challenges that comes along with it. So much fun! It is so nice to get out of the office for a while and meet the music industry (both from Norway and international delegates) and talented artists who are just walking around backstage having a great time. I also learned a lot about myself and others because everything is so hectic during the days of the festival production.

Now I’m back at the Indianer office to work with the release of Siv Jakobsen (who I manage)’s debut album which is released on August 25th. I can’t wait for the world to hear it. It is such a vulnerable and powerful record at the same time. It’s been on repeat for months, and I’m so happy that everyone finally gets to hear it.

The most important piece of advice you have ever received?My dad told me once to never interrupt people when they are talking, I think that is pretty good advice, and it is actually really difficult if you are excited. So yeah, I try to listen to people and learn from them. There are so many interesting people in the music business, and if you listen to their stories and experiences I think you can learn a lot (and use it for your own advantage).

Your best industry-tip?Be kind, learn how to read people and make conversations about work when it is appropriate. I lived in the States and worked at the Norwegian Consulate in New York for a while, and I learned that small talk is okay (and actually quite fun when you get the hang of it). Don’t rush. Sometimes you have to be patient and listen to stories about peoples dog or children or something like that before you can talk business. Also: don’t push too hard, you’ll get the time to talk when it is time, and then people will actually be interested in hearing what you are going to say.

Whats your golden moment to share with the rest of us? Haha. I think my golden moment is still to come. I do think a good reward working for artists is when their music and shows really really move you. When you feel proud just to be a part of an artists journey. That sort of feels like a golden moment, because you know you were a part of the process getting them there. That is what it’s all about. Getting there.

Why Norway, why now?That is a big question. It basically just feels like this is an exciting and diverse time for Norwegian music. Whenever people are talking about «the Nordic sound» I get kind of annoyed, because I think what is happening in different genres right now is quite diverse and interesting in so many ways. There’s Kygo with the tropical sound, Dagny with the really good pop melodies, Sigrid who has such an amazing presence and exciting songs, Rytmeklubben who totally changed my view on what appropriate club music is, Farida who makes excellent R&B, Karpe Diem who totally changed Norwegian hiphop, and Siv Jakobsen, who is so intimate and writes these amazing love songs that everyone can relate to. And this is just a few. There are so many interesting artists emerging and I feel like many of them have powerful and fascinating stories to tell. Pitchfork used to be my number one site for discovering new music. Somehow that changed, and now I’m often more contained with music coming out of our own country.

I think it is because both artists and the Norwegian industry is really hard working, knows that this is a good time for Norwegian music and wants to make the most out of it. I also believe that the business has gained a lot of experience over the years. Constitutions like Music Norway is important so we can continue to share the knowledge and use it for successful export of Norwegian music. I believe that if we help each other reach our goals – the Norwegian industry as a whole will gain from it. Also, the fact that both artists and the industry actually gets funding to make dreams come true is a major factor as well.

Who in the Norwegian music industry deserves a high five? Silje Larsen Borgan. I have so much respect for her, and what she has accomplished with her newly started company Little Big Sister. Silje is hard working, has a lot of experience, is clever as hell and she never brags. She is always kind, and that is so important in this business. She has also been important in different conversations about women in the industry over the last years, and is showing everybody that a woman can be a great boss and manager. High five!