Interview by Eileen Shapiro
On July 24th Norwegian born EDM rock artist Toggo Ultrarock unleashed his new EP entitled “Ultrarock”, a uniquely vocal masterpiece that’s already creating a buzz everywhere. The release is filled with meaningful, and heartwarming lyrics accompanied by colorful, and tantalizing beats. The first single “Cannonball” is a radio friendly, uplifting track, that no matter what you do, you just can’t shake it.
Toggo has a very special history. Having paid his musical dues, he was in a band based in LA called, “Scared of Girls”. Just when the band was to make a national breakthrough, Toggo mysteriously fell off the face of the earth. Eight months later he reappeared, losing everything he held dear including his house, his bank account, his friends, his car, and his reputation that he worked so hard to obtain. When the smoke cleared he wound up in rural Minnesota, raising a son as a single parent.
Now with a new beginning, he is more determined and optimistic than ever to follow his dream….
Congratulations on the release of your new EP, “Ultrarock”. What were your inspirations for the lyrical content of the songs?
Thanks! Apart from California Royals, which is a mashup, and I Want Nothing, which is about letting go and just having a great time, the lyrics were inspired by a combination of me being madly in love, and horribly heartbroken. I’m so proud of these songs, it’s definitely the most inspired songwriting I’ve ever done, coupled with the most elaborate production I’ve ever had the pleasure of being part of.
You have a remarkably distinct voice and an audaciously anomalous look. When performing live, which do you focus on more, the music or the attitude?
Audaciously anomalous, you’re gonna make people reach for their dictionaries here (laughs). When I perform live, I don’t focus on anything in particular – when those stage lights come on and we start playing, nothing else matters. For that hour, I exist inside this magical space that doesn’t exist anywhere else. I get to completely be myself, do what I do best, and flirt with, bond with, and entertain my audience, and myself. I think it’s hard to lose when you do that because people pick up on genuineness, you know? When you’re being real up there, pouring your soul out for everyone to see without any fear, people connect with that.
Your music defies the boundaries of genre. It has been coined by the press as EDM Rock. What do your musical influences lie?
My musical influences go way back. My main ones are from the 1940’s, artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and the way songs were written back then, plus of course, The Beatles, Queen, onward to punk, and just about anything current that inspires me. It’s an ongoing process.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Being born. I think that one’s hard to top.
Does the fact that you were born and raised in Norway influence your music and lyrics?
Melody-wise, absolutely. I was born and raised in a part of the world where melody is king, and I love that. Lyrically, I think every artist’s songwriting is the sum of their parts, you know? I can’t pinpoint exactly how my lyrics are influenced by where I grew up, but I’m sure they would be different if my background was different. So yes!
Looking back on everything you know now, what advice would you offer ‘baby Toggo’?
I would tell him what I’ve been telling my kid since he was born: “You are amazing. Nothing is impossible, you can be, do and have anything you set your mind to. And what other people say or think about you has everything to do with them, and nothing to do with you most of the time.” If I grew up with those values, my struggles would definitely not be what they have been. But then again, it has made me who I am, which I wouldn’t change for the world.
What do you love most about performing live?
Connecting with my audience. No other feeling in the world beats it. Music is everything to me, without it I literally wilt like a flower. It gives my life meaning and purpose; it’s my contribution to the world, at the risk of sounding full of myself. I’m really not. I just love it and feel so blessed to be able to do it.
I’ve played packed concert halls and I’ve played in front of 5 people. I always take it as a challenge to connect with my audience, and I don’t stop till that mission is accomplished. It doesn’t matter if there are 20,000 people, or 4 people in the audience – the most important thing is to leave everyone, yourself included, going home that night, feeling like you have been part of something special.
What do you want to be remembered most for?
My ripped biceps! (Laughs) Seriously though, by the time it’s all said and done I would love to be remembered as someone who brought a lot of people joy through music. I’ve also beat impossible odds in my own life by getting past my doubts and fears, following my heart instead. I hope to inspire others to do the same thing, because I can’t imagine any worse fate than living with regret over something you could have done, but didn’t have the courage to do because of your fears. When you live courageously it won’t always work out exactly the way you want it to, but at least you won’t have to live your life wondering what could have been. In the end, you’ll always be better off that way. We only get this one life – be courageous, always follow your heart, and tell your fears to fuck off.