Sofia Talvik: Singing star who's having Swede success on open road
As her camper van tour hits town, the Scandinavian musician tells Chris Jones about her love of touring, despite a rather odd encounter with a stalker
It would be fair to say that Sofia Talvik likes to tour. In the grand tradition of folk music, she is happiest when she is out on the road, eating up the miles and bringing her songs to fans old and new, wherever they may be waiting for her.
And she likes to do it in an unorthodox fashion. She spent the whole of 2012 (and four months either side) touring around the USA in a refurbished RV, taking in 37 states and over 250 gigs. And this month she is doing a mini version of that tour, taking a camper van around Ireland for two weeks.
Now based in Berlin after a lifetime in Sweden, Talvik says she is excited about exploring Europe after such a long stint in America. "Ireland sounded exciting so we got in touch with a rental company who take these old campers and remodel them into something cool and hip and homey," she explains. "It's the perfect match of reliving my US tour but on a smaller scale."
The tour is taking her from Ballybofey in Donegal to Ballincollig in Cork, with dates in Belfast and Castlerock on the itinerary. "I'm really looking forward to coming to Ireland because I've only been to Dublin before," she says. "I've always been fascinated by Ireland so it will be great to see some more of it rather than (just) Dublin."
If the idea of traipsing around Ireland in a camper van sounds quaint, the American odyssey sounds positively mad, especially when you consider that her husband Jonas (who also runs her label) quit his job in Swedish television to join her.
"At the time it just felt like a very easy decision," she says. "We were in bed ready to go to sleep and I was talking about being unhappy living in Sweden, like 'Oh, this is boring, it's such a small country, you can't go anywhere or do anything'. So I told him that we should go to the US and tour for a long time, but it's not something you can just do, like that. And he said, 'Well, why not? Let's do it'. I was like, 'Yeah ... okay? Alright!'. The day after, I started applying for an artist's visa for the US and after a couple of months we were on our way."
The tour had its share of strange moments, such as having to perform during the intermissions in a rock-paper- scissors tournament at one venue (small-town America is a strange place), and the time they were followed by a stalker who turned up at gigs from Ohio all the way to Minnesota and posed online as Sofia's manager until they eventually got rid of him. "He became more and more strange. He seemed to lived out of his car, he didn't change his clothes, he was all dirty ..."
And while spending more than a year in a van with one other person (even if he is your husband and "best friend") might be hell for some, Sofia's sense of adventure is strong.
"Sometimes people would ask, living in an RV, such a small space, just the two of you, how do you not kill each other?" she laughs. "But we always had a lot of fun, and it's so diverse. You go to a new city every day so it's never boring. It's more boring to be stuck in an apartment in a big city in Sweden or Germany. You get to see so much, you meet new people all the time. It's like an adventure every day."
Now Sofia is relishing the chance to take her music on the road again – around Ireland and beyond. "I'm really lucky to be able to play music that I love and see the world at the same time," she says.
"I'm releasing a new album next year so who knows where that will take me? Hopefully all over the world!"
Sofia Talvik plays the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, on Friday, September 26, and Crusoe's Coffee Shop, Castlerock, on Saturday, September 27. For details, visit www.sofiatalvik.com