Graceful, stunningly intimate, and radiantly expressive, Vaarin’s breathtakingly beautiful ‘Imaginary Movies’ EP is a haunting soundtrack of light, love, loss, and life.
Stream: “Lighthouse” – Vaarin
Graceful, stunningly intimate, and radiantly expressive, Vaarin’s breathtakingly beautiful Imaginary Movies EP is a haunting soundtrack of light, love, loss, and life: A fragile, cinematic reckoning of our innermost thoughts and feelings that dwells in the depths of experience.
It’s not often we stumble upon a record that so passionately delves into the human condition. Vaarin holds nothing back, revealing in four heartbreakingly bittersweet songs a heavy soul immersed in questions of presence and being, connection and disconnect.
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Imaginary Movies, Vaarin’s second EP since her 2018 debut album Even If I Started Seeing Rainbows. Out May 28, 2021 via Europian indie label Made Records, Imaginary Movies arrives just shy of a year after 2020’s Bitter Taste of Goodbye EP brought stirring bursts of light and emotive clarity to our collective quarantined summer.
Far more muted and subtle than its predecessor, Imaginary Movies is a delicate, soft, and elegant outpouring of intense introspection.
The Norwegian 24-year-old – who has previously introduced herself as “a young girl and artist with an old soul” – uses her four new songs to explore our inner storms; love’s growth and change (and the loss that can accompany it over time); the ways in which we express ourselves; her own personal obstacles and insecurities; and so much more.
Every track is built up from a base of piano and vocals to ultimately fill the airwaves with sublime musical color: Gorgeous synths and utterly moving orchestral strings add weight and resonance to an already thrilling, evocative sonic journey.
“These are all songs for the movies in your head,” Vaarin tells Atwood Magazine. “I wanted to collect some of my cinematic tunes and release them together for people to make movies out of them. Marcus [Edvardsen, the EP’s producer] and I kept as much movement, authenticity, breath, motion and humanity as we could to help you to feel like you are in a movie. Or in a scene. What does your movie look like?”
From the moment she opens with the gentle tide of “Lighthouse,” through the touching “Ballet Dancer” and the immense overhaul of “Darling,” to the dramatic, cathartic conclusion on “Auteur,” Vaarin ensures a meaningful experience for all. Her poetic lyrics evoke not only our most intimate, heartfelt emotions, but also alluring visualizations of loved ones; of ourselves; of vast, picturesque nature scenes and sweeping cityscapes. It’s a filmic slice of life, compressed into fourteen exceptions minutes of music.
Experience the full record via our exclusive streams, and peek inside Vaarin’s Imaginary Movies EP with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her new EP!
:: Inside Imaginary Movies ::
A song for the oceans and the lights. I think humans can feel unsafe and troubled but also like a safe hand at the same time. Humans are often both and in a relationship it always switches back and forth. Marcus Edvardsen (the producer of the EP) and I have worked together a lot over the past two years and wrote many songs in that period of time. I think it was about a year ago now that “Lighthouse” was born. We wrote many songs with different sounds, vibes and stories, but the day I came home from the studio after writing this song, I felt a little different. I felt like the song was something bigger than myself. I showed it to my sister who lived with me at the time and she absolutely fell in love with it. It was the first time she had responded in such a way. I just knew I wanted to release this song since that day. I knew it was important to me and important for the song to be out there.
“Can’t find another way while I run between the waves
blinded by the air while the coastline disappear”
The song is maybe a song for our inner tragedy. Our inner storms. The drag-and-pull relationships with love, hate and sorrow. The journey we all are in, life is a journey through oceans. With the help of different kinds of light and clues. We worked a lot with the sounds and recorded old analog synths in the Malaga Studio in Oslo. We wanted to get the feeling of being overwhelmed at the end of the song and tried many things to capture that. We needed that analog feeling to it, to not lose its cinematic authenticity. To make it live in this Titanic-vibe it had from the beginning. We tried to find the perfect balance between dramatic and calm.
“I’m the ocean you’re the light”
I have always been obsessed with water, nature and movements. I also see feelings as colors and pictures. I always think about visuals. So when we started on this song I pictured a lighthouse and the ocean. And that was the foundation for the song’s identity.
“See the lighthouse in the wild
miles away from here
blinded by the fear while the coastline disappear”
The process of writing the song was quite intuitive. In the first session we wrote the verses and the chorus and then the ending took a little more time to establish. We pictured ourselves by the ocean waiting for a storm but we didn’t quite know the words to illustrate it. But from an improvisation-round came “Take me home”, which felt right and had the appropriate intensity. The verse is subtle and warm, fading into a new character of chords and feeling in the chorus. There is a suspense throughout the song that only releases when it drops at the ending.
It’s like the suspense I feel when troubled in mind or in an unbalanced relationship. The most important thing for me to hold on to with this song, through the process, was the feeling. The feeling in the words and vocals. And the story being told by this feeling.
I have thought a lot about how my fascination for ballet started and why it came up in a session. The idea started with the “Suspiria” movie from 1977. I am a sucker for beautiful movies and Suspiria is one of the movies that never leaves my head or memory. It is a scary and very dark story with a lot of extreme scenes that show the true darkness in the world and something in between the world and our consciousness. What even is real? And what is beauty? This movie is the inspiration for the verse of this song.
“met the devil in my bed last night
shaken like a deer caught in headlights”
I remember me and Marcus sitting in the studio with some big TV-screens with “Suspiria” on them while writing the song. We also found a lot of inspiration for the verses in the movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel ” from 2014, and the renaissance. We pictured the main character in the song taking a taxi to The Grand Budapest Hotel, the year is 1930 and the great depression is lying like a shadow all over the USA.
“In love with a foreign sky,
the saddest melody
my heart rewinds
I’ll meet the devil in my bed tonight
though this world would make me feel divine”
We wanted to get that vintage car-driving feeling from the verses and some sessions later we gathered the chorus together. The chorus is meant to show a lighter side and we wanted it to express a delightfulness, elegance, and heavenly feeling. We wanted the sound of the chorus to be more like a dance than a car-drive. The song is kinda ambivalent, with the meaning of being both very light but also very heavy and dark. Like the movie “Suspiria”. And like the life of a ballet dancer maybe? What we see is not the whole context. And what we feel is often not what we show. There is so much beauty in pain, and so much pain in beauty. And I feel like the song is a reflection of being a young girl thinking she isn’t beautiful enough for the world. She compares herself with the outer world and other girls and that is a problem in society today, I think. It is so important not to believe in the Instagram models and compare ourselves to everything that is beautiful and linear. Perfection and beauty are subjective and come with pain, struggle or hard-work. The ballet dancer is a metaphor for humans we look up to, the people we have in our life that always shine, always look steady and mostly dance through life. I want to be that human instead of the mess I am, with my demons hiding.
“If I was a ballet dancer
a delicate ballerina
then I would leap into his heart
but I’m just a painted passenger”
We used a lot of time to record different instruments, like upright bass, trumpet and electric-guitar in the bridge, but we struggled to find the fine line. We wanted to keep the ambivalent feeling and needed the sound to be majestic and delicate to underline the “ballet” theme of the song. We ended up with a vocal-choir feeling and a more flowy vibe. We watched many videos of glorious ballet dancers and got the flowy feeling from there. The bridge sentence goes over and over again.. Like an anthem… I wanted it to feel like that. The meaning of the song going into this part is the lyrics connected with the chorus. I am just a painted passenger in this world of ballet, where the darkness never reaches the surface. I am the outcast in this secret beautiful real world. I am the one painted in, not seen as I really am.
“In the world of ballet she was quite simply the best” is a saying that I read somewhere and I wrote it down. I think dancers, especially ballet dancers, possess power, pride and beauty. As they move so sensually, majestic and comely. Pleasant to look at, especially as conforming to ideals of form and proportion. However, ballet dancers have a strict hierarchy and strict gender roles. There is a darkness there that never reaches the surface. They rely on years of extensive training and proper technique to become a part of the business. I have always dreamt of being a ballet dancer and sometimes I’ve caught myself thinking that that is what I have to be to get people to fall in love with me. Some days I feel so small, so anonymous, like a mess and just like a spectator or bystander in my own life. In the search for control, me and the protagonist wish to be a ballet dancer to feel like we’re simply the best.
“In a world of ballet
where the darkness never reach the surface”
And I need to be specific in my thoughts here, because I don’t mean that ballet dancers are an unhealthy thing or an unhealthy business. I just mean that ballet is so beautiful but also so hard and strict, that it is a complex form of art. It is just a picture of something so beautiful it hurts.
This song is a song I wrote for myself on the Rhodes piano at home many years ago. It took me a while to get the lyrics right and the song went through many different stages throughout the process. It started with the line “Say what’s on your mind, darling”, that I wrote to my sister who was in a state of mind where she couldn’t find the words for her problems.
“Say what’s on your mind, darling
After years of sleepless nights”
It isn’t always as easy to tell people about the things inside your head. I can often push people to tell me what they’re holding on to deep inside their heads. But I think it is a good thing to talk about everything, even if you don’t know what to say or how to say it.
“You look scared like it’s thunder, darling
still nobody can feel the wind”
Then I saw my mom and dad and how they talked and started growing old together. They changed their days to more relaxed evenings, more cake before bed and a more silent love. Their love grew older and it was a feeling of a deeper love but also a deeper loss.
“But now you leave me..
And you know what that means
A deeper connection. The song is a reflection of how human relationships turn and end up creating a love so huge and safe we can’t understand it. We lost the words. “Darling” contains some of my words for it. It is a song about mental health as well. A subtle hug to someone who might not know how to start the difficult conversations. I will never stop asking my sister to tell me what’s on her mind, because I am up for every chaos. And I think it is so important to never stop asking each other questions, because those who never speak about themselves or tell a lot about their lives are often those who need it most.
I have always been a thinker. I think about death. And I think about life. What are the stories in peoples’ heads? What is the end of my story? And I think about the fact that I am the one having control over it. I can change my story if I want to and I can clearly change the ending of my book. But will I?
“Writers keep writing poems
while I am still scripting my end
So the end is certain
but does my soul consent?
A movie ends when there’s no more words to say
Like the narrative from within”
The song started with me making a quick demo on my computer late at night. I started with the verses and wrote what I thought about that night. I was in a state of “existential thinking” and wondered around that theme with the lyrics of this song. I read a book earlier that day and when I sat there on my sofa I thought about life as a book. A book I am writing right now. And every day, how do I want my book to be written? How long and short do I want the chapters to be, and what will be the titles? Who is the main character in my book and how do I describe her? How does my book end?
“A world ends when there’s no more words to say
There’s a reason for everything”
This song is a documentary on how my head swings at night time. I often start to get lost in these big existential questions and it ends up in chaos most of the time. I remember I liked the french word “Auteur” and since the whole “Imaginary Movies” project was about making movies in our minds, I thought it made for a cool perspective on the story. I ended up calling the demo project in Logic “Auteur” that night.
I took the demo I wrote that night with me to the session the next day and Marcus liked the piano and topline idea. It started with the piano-riff and the whole song was done in two days from there. The production for it was settled with the piano-riff and the drums we made early the first day. From there we wanted it to be a bit electronic, but with a suiting dynamic and authentic feeling. The bridge was made last and we kept it so long to make it even more hypnotising. We recorded everything on the song in Marcus’ room, and the drums were samples of us playing on the walls and bits of paper. This is a different song and sound. It is more uplifting and not as cinematic as the other songs. We felt like the package needed that. I think the bridge in this song is a complete description of me and my head at night. And a conclusion of how my book is closing:
“When the curtains are falling down and you feel so certain
there’s no rainbow at the end
When the tulips are drifting by and you know for sure
there’s nothing left to say
When the tulips are drifting by and you feel so certain…..”
Then the chorus comes in at the end, underlining the subject of giving in. Or to not care. You can make your own sense of what I mean by that. Because I don’t know yet if I mean one of those or both at the same time. I need to figure out the rest of my life.
— — — —
📸 © 2021
:: Stream Vaarin ::