Dinah Nah Talks Melodifestivalen, Dance Pop, and the Swedish Music Industry | MuseLed Interview

As far as Swedish pop goes (or "Swed-pop" for those familiar), it doesn't get much bigger than Melodifestivalen, Sweden's annual national selection contest for their Eurovision entry. Many non-Swedish fans of the Eurovision Song Contest tune in to Melodifestivalen, as it has developed a reputation for being ripe with new talent to discover. Indeed the contest is one of the greatest opportunities for Swedish talent to gain exposure to an international audience. Such was the case for Dinah Nah, who gave this year's contest it's only true pop banger, "Make Me (La La La)."

Long-time followers of Swed-pop will remember Dinah for being a part of the pop group Caramell, which had a successful run from 1998-2002. Between then and Dinah's return as a solo artist, she kept busy both in and out of her work in the music industry. Not only was she a back-up singer for the likes of Haddaway and Dr. Alban, she also became a licensed skin therapist and nurse, and gave birth to two children with her sambo (the Swedish word for a non-married long-term romantic partner).

We met up with Dinah at her record label in the southern neighbourhood of Stockholm and were able to sit down and discuss her experience in Melodifestivalen, her artistry, and the path she is paving for herself.

At first glance, Dinah Nah appears every bit the glamorous popstar, with bright pink hair and large gold hoop earrings to accentuate a stylish outfit. Her music videos that accompany her singles are often glossy and polished; a visual treat to enhance the overall effect of the dance-pop tracks that have quickly become her signature. Her artistry is expressed by more than just the sound that she has developed.

"I want to give the audience not only good music, but something nice to look at."

In an industry that has often perpetuated the stigma against women as they age, 35-year-old Dinah Nah is groundbreaking in many ways. She releases the type of singles likely to be heard at 2am in the hottest Euro-clubs, and remains disinclined to let the music industry's "age fascism" deter her from pursuing her career on her own terms.

"Age has nothing to do with talent. If you're good at what you're doing, what does it matter if you're five years old or eighty-five?"

While fans were shocked by Dinah Nah's last-place (in the finals) placement in Melodifestivalen 2015, Dinah looks back on the experience as a positive one, noting how it kick-started her solo career and allowed her greater opportunities to tour across Sweden and perform at larger shows including Allsång på Skansen.

"This year, I've actually grown not only as an artist but also as a person. I know more and more each day what I want with this, my career."

Melodifestivalen can be seen as an exemplification of Sweden's propensity for egalitarianism. As of 2015, its rules stipulated that at least 50% of the selected entries were to be written/co-written by female composers/lyricists. When asked about the atmosphere for women in the music industry, Dinah has nothing but the utmost praise to offer about Melodifestivalen's updated policy.

"It's a good thing that they did that because I think that women [have] to be recognised more in the music industry, not only as artists but as producers, as musicians playing instruments, because men are overrepresented in that area. They are, and that's not right. That has nothing to do with that there's more men that [have] talent. That's not the issue. The issue is that more women need to get into the industry and be able to show what they can do because there's a lot of talented women out there."

In addition to the original version of "Make Me (La La La)," Dinah released an acoustic version of the song, complete with a more stripped down music video of it.

"I wanted to catch a bigger audience. I wanted to show that I can also do a wider genre of music, because I love dance music and that's the kind of music that I want to do but I love all types of styles."

Though she currently has no plans to release a full album or an EP, this choice is a deliberate one. Dinah shares how she sees herself as more a 'singles' artist and thus will continue to work on putting out quality singles for the public to enjoy. Her follow-up single to "Make Me (La La La)" was another dance-pop number, entitled "Taste Your Love." Upon its release, some were quick to unleash salacious jokes about the title and meaning of the lyrics, but Dinah offers up an honest explanation of the song's message.

"I think that everybody has been at one point in their life, been in a relationship where you have a sort of 'love and hate' feeling towards that person that you're with. You love them so much but you argue and you fight a lot so you can't be together, and you break up and then you go back again, and it's like a back-and-forth thing. The song is really about that; about not being able to be together because you're maybe so different but you can't stay away from each other because the passion is so big. So 'Taste Your Love' is just that you want to feel the love, just right then and there. But maybe tomorrow you can back off again. [laughs]"

Dinah also drew inspiration from her love for U.S. TV series, "The Walking Dead" in choosing a darker, outdoor setting for the "Taste Your Love" music video. She decided against embracing the scarier imagery that the show is well known for due to the children that follow her music career.

Many Swedish pop-stars have shied away from collaborating with the other artists in the Swed-pop industry. It's not entirely clear why. But when the idea is posed to Dinah about a potential collaboration with fellow Swed-pop-banger-hitmaker Ace Wilder, she is fully receptive to it.

"I would definitely do a collaboration with Ace, definitely."

So what is next for Dinah Nah? The first thing on her hopeful to-do list is another go at Melodifestivalen. However, fans will have to wait another few months before the participating acts are announced. Though Dinah has currently only toured in Sweden, she is eager to get out into other countries to perform for international fans. She has nothing but kind words to send out to them.

"I would just love to say that I am so happy that you find me on Instagram and on Facebook and everything, and all of the comments that you write. I am so so happy. There is so much love. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, so much."

Watch the video of our full interview with Dinah Nah here:

Dinah Nah can be found on Facebook here, Twitter here, and Instagram here, as well as her official website here.


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