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Interview: Mr. Little Jeans on touring, Arcade Fire and the Pacific Northwest

Norwegian songstress Monica Birkenes, better known by her stagename Mr. Little Jeans is currently in the middle of her “Fevers” tour, which included a stop at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR. Before the show, Monica chatted with us about the inspiration behind her latest release, her love for Portland, and how she feels about returning to her home country of Norway to play for the first time early next year.

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So you’re currently in the middle of your tour “Fevers”, how’s that going?
Great! I love it, it’s really nice to meet everyone. For me, it’s just really nice to meet people, the people from Instagram whose names I see and to actually go somewhere (like the middle of nowhere) and recognize people who have been following me for years, it’s awesome.

Oh wow, so you are able to recognize people then?
Yeah! I see their icons over and over again, and I see them tag me in pictures after a show.

So back to the tour, you’re coming towards the end of it now?
I guess it feels towards the end because we’re now back on the west coast in our timezone, so I feel like I’m getting closer to home.

Have you played here in Portland before?
Yes I have played here before!

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Have you had the chance to see any of the city today?
We here drove from Boise, which is a seven hour drive to Portland, but we woke up really early because I love Portland. I really love the landscape and the food here, that’s why we left super early. I got like five hours of sleep because I wanted to see the city, and we got here but it turned out I was so tired that I had to sleep, and now I’m here.

What about tomorrow? You can probably leave later since you’re just going up to Seattle.
Yes! We’re going to try to leave here as late as we can.

I’d love to hear a little bit about your latest release Fevers and what this work is inspired by?
I think I just wasn’t quite ready to do a whole album, so I kept recording and got those four songs. I also wanted to go out on the road and do shows, so we put that out to have something to tour with while waiting to start the album. But by now I’ve already started on some of it.

So you’re going to keep working on it after your tour is over?
Yes! And in January/February I’d like to go do some international stuff.

Are you going to go back home to Norway?
Yes, that’s the idea! I’ve never even done a show there. Honestly I don’t know what to expect, but I’m excited and I’m happy it’s finally happening. I think my fanbase is the strongest here (U.S.). I don’t have a presence there so I think most people don’t even know I’m Norwegian. I’ve been here for almost six years and was in London before that, so I haven’t lived in Norway for a very long time. It is weird being Norwegian and not doing my music over there. I’m so happy that it has happened like this. Honestly I always wanted out of Norway. Norway is a perfect, lovely country, but I was just always drawn to the outside.

I can totally relate to that. So like many others, I first heard your music with your cover of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs”. Don’t get me wrong I’m an Arcade Fire fan, but I know I’m not alone in saying your version is so much more thought provoking and emotional. How did you first come upon the song and create your rendition of it?
I just liked the song to be honest. I also liked that it was a guy singing it and that we could do a whole different version of it. I think that was the idea that it was, one a song that I loved, and two something that I could really make my own. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…but it worked. It was just something we did during the first album (that took a long time) so it was like, hey let’s just do a cover to put something out there. We did it really fast and boom.

mr-little-jeans-6453
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Were you stoked on the huge success of the song?
It was such a surprise and it was really a good thing for me because I had a label that wanted more poppy stuff and they already had a single in mind, which was the one song I didn’t want in the album. It was super poppy, and I love pop, but it felt too light so I didn’t want it on my album. And then people really liked this so that allowed me to get rid of that song I didn’t like and take it a little bit further to where I wanted to be.

Lastly, what’s been your favorite show so far on this tour?
There’s been favorites, not one favorite. New York… I love New York, the crowd was shouting “Can you move here?” D.C., Salt Lake City, Denver, Boise were also all amazing. I think those were some of the highlights. But I always look forward to going to Portland. I wish I could spend a week here, because we never get the full experience.

Mr. Little Jeans is still on tour through the beginning of December. Check out when she’s coming to a city near you here.

Hannah Cantrell
Hannah Cantrell is a photographer based in Portland, Oregon. More of her portrait and live music photography can be found at hcantrell.com.

Interview: Mr. Little Jeans on touring, Arcade Fire and the Pacific Northwest

Norwegian songstress Monica Birkenes, better known by her stagename Mr. Little Jeans is currently in the middle of her “Fevers” tour, which included a stop at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR. Before the show, Monica chatted with us about the inspiration behind her latest release, her love for Portland, and how she feels about returning to her home country of Norway to play for the first time early next year.

mr-littlejeans-1

So you’re currently in the middle of your tour “Fevers”, how’s that going?
Great! I love it, it’s really nice to meet everyone. For me, it’s just really nice to meet people, the people from Instagram whose names I see and to actually go somewhere (like the middle of nowhere) and recognize people who have been following me for years, it’s awesome.

Oh wow, so you are able to recognize people then?
Yeah! I see their icons over and over again, and I see them tag me in pictures after a show.

So back to the tour, you’re coming towards the end of it now?
I guess it feels towards the end because we’re now back on the west coast in our timezone, so I feel like I’m getting closer to home.

Have you played here in Portland before?
Yes I have played here before!

mr-little-jeans-6516
mr-little-jeans-6488

Have you had the chance to see any of the city today?
We here drove from Boise, which is a seven hour drive to Portland, but we woke up really early because I love Portland. I really love the landscape and the food here, that’s why we left super early. I got like five hours of sleep because I wanted to see the city, and we got here but it turned out I was so tired that I had to sleep, and now I’m here.

What about tomorrow? You can probably leave later since you’re just going up to Seattle.
Yes! We’re going to try to leave here as late as we can.

I’d love to hear a little bit about your latest release Fevers and what this work is inspired by?
I think I just wasn’t quite ready to do a whole album, so I kept recording and got those four songs. I also wanted to go out on the road and do shows, so we put that out to have something to tour with while waiting to start the album. But by now I’ve already started on some of it.

So you’re going to keep working on it after your tour is over?
Yes! And in January/February I’d like to go do some international stuff.

Are you going to go back home to Norway?
Yes, that’s the idea! I’ve never even done a show there. Honestly I don’t know what to expect, but I’m excited and I’m happy it’s finally happening. I think my fanbase is the strongest here (U.S.). I don’t have a presence there so I think most people don’t even know I’m Norwegian. I’ve been here for almost six years and was in London before that, so I haven’t lived in Norway for a very long time. It is weird being Norwegian and not doing my music over there. I’m so happy that it has happened like this. Honestly I always wanted out of Norway. Norway is a perfect, lovely country, but I was just always drawn to the outside.

I can totally relate to that. So like many others, I first heard your music with your cover of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs”. Don’t get me wrong I’m an Arcade Fire fan, but I know I’m not alone in saying your version is so much more thought provoking and emotional. How did you first come upon the song and create your rendition of it?
I just liked the song to be honest. I also liked that it was a guy singing it and that we could do a whole different version of it. I think that was the idea that it was, one a song that I loved, and two something that I could really make my own. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…but it worked. It was just something we did during the first album (that took a long time) so it was like, hey let’s just do a cover to put something out there. We did it really fast and boom.

mr-little-jeans-6453
mr-little-jeans-6435

Were you stoked on the huge success of the song?
It was such a surprise and it was really a good thing for me because I had a label that wanted more poppy stuff and they already had a single in mind, which was the one song I didn’t want in the album. It was super poppy, and I love pop, but it felt too light so I didn’t want it on my album. And then people really liked this so that allowed me to get rid of that song I didn’t like and take it a little bit further to where I wanted to be.

Lastly, what’s been your favorite show so far on this tour?
There’s been favorites, not one favorite. New York… I love New York, the crowd was shouting “Can you move here?” D.C., Salt Lake City, Denver, Boise were also all amazing. I think those were some of the highlights. But I always look forward to going to Portland. I wish I could spend a week here, because we never get the full experience.

Mr. Little Jeans is still on tour through the beginning of December. Check out when she’s coming to a city near you here.

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