If I ever made you cry, I’m sorry – Lea Kampmann

2022

DKK 159

About If I ever made you cry, I’m sorry

“The most important thing to me as an artist,” says Lea Kampmann, “is to make pieces of art that people can see themselves in.” If you’ve ever felt anxious or lonely, uncertain or afraid, the debut album from the Faroe Islands singer-songwriter will be your mirror. Poised elegantly between classicist songwriting and modern alt-pop, alt-R&B-tinged drama, If I Ever Made You Cry, I’m Sorry is an album of intimate specifics and timeless feelings, introverted confessionals and universal emotions. No apologies are needed: after a string of acclaimed singles and one EP, it marks Kampmann’s fully formed graduation as an artist with a singular and richly relatable voice.

A sense of open access to a lived-in emotional world is suggested right from the opening line, which lands like an intimacy shared mid-conversation: “So it’s when I close my eyes…”. Set to hip-hop producer and drummer Per Ingvaldur Højgaard’s layered and atmospheric electronic arrangement, ‘Higher’ is a serene dream-pop reverie on young romantic fears, its small-hours beats draped like a shroud around Kampmann’s supple, vulnerable vocals.

Although Kampmann wrote the album’s eight songs over three to four years, ‘Higher’ was the one that helped her to see where the album was going, a guiding light in its organic evolution. Written when she moved to Denmark and found herself isolated, ‘When I’m Sleeping Alone’ picks up the thematic thread with a meditation on being alone and learning to enjoy it, set amid folds of misty electronics and classicist piano. As Kampmann puts it, “that dualism, that love/hate relationship with being alone” resides at the album’s core.

Produced alone, the meltingly melancholic ‘Í Ævir’ (for infinity, forever) taps into another fear, that of anxiety in the face of uncertain futures. Co-written with Faroese singer-songwriter Greta Svabo Bech, ‘Ghost’ is an exquisitely poised expression of isolated anxiety: spare and dramatic, tender and bold, it builds towards a cathartic climax with a controlled intensity. ‘Dream Through Me’, meanwhile, upholds the depths of drama in Kampmann’s work. As she explains, “I’d watched a lot of Twin Peaks and that surreal universe was a huge part of my mind. I was writing into that dreaminess. It became kind of a love song about the person being an illusion, or maybe the hope of getting someone to see you or to love you back.” Ardent Peaks-watchers might hear something of composer Angelo Badalamenti’s influence in the song’s zero-gravity keyboards.

The seasonally sensitive ‘Home’ warms its wintery meditations over generous synths, before the title-track – like Lana Del Rey covering Cat Power – combines a kind of guilty confessional with an album summation to close. As Kampmann puts it, “It’s a sorry in a funny way to the listeners who I perhaps made cry with my first EP, because it was so slow, and so mellow, and so sad. The album is a slightly lighter version of myself, even though it’s still sad and introverted.”

On her debut EP, Common Blue (2017), and other singles, Kampmann exhibited strong singer-songwriter roots. Influences included Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Nick Cave and Bon Iver. On If I Ever Made You Cry, her growth as an artist expands to accommodate more modern sounds and visions. She worked with local artists Alda Mohr Eyðunsdóttir and Vár Samuelsen on the album’s imagery, creating a “kind of vampiric, goth-ish universe” for its photos and accompanying videos; meanwhile, the album’s soundscapes were nurtured to fruition by producer Højgaard. As Kampmann puts it, “I felt a bit trapped in this slow, mellow, dark soundscape that I was in on Common Blue. I needed some more energy, in a way, more brightness and air. Working with Per, it felt like we spoke the same language. He helped to realise the need I had to get more energy into my songs. I think he fits perfectly with my dreamy songs and voice, and he hits harder beats. It becomes more epic, maybe.”

With keyboardist Vinjar E. Petersen her other main collaborator, the gorgeous result is the culmination of a life-long immersion in music. Kampmann was born in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, to parents who played in non-professional grunge bands. Her father was also a songwriter, her mother a poet. They moved to Copenhagen when Kampmann was a child, where she would write playful songs for an imaginary Eurovision; she also began learning to play violin from the age of five, envisioning a future in a symphony orchestra.

At 15 or 16, the “kickstart” for her career was a duo she formed with a school friend. When that dissolved, Kampmann started to play alone and, back in the Faroe Islands, drew support from the local music scene. “I owe the Faroese musical environment a lot,” she says, adding that it was “overwhelming” to be recognised at the Faroese Music Awards in 2018, when she won the Artist of the Year award at the age of 20.

Now, Kampmann wants listeners to feel recognised in her work. “Through my songs, I want to mirror people. I hope that I can make people feel less alone with their feelings, by showing that feelings of loneliness, heartache, anxiety, insecurity are feelings we all share. We are not that different from each other, after all, and isn’t that just the most beautiful thing?” Honest and empathic, artful and alluring, If I Ever Made You Cry, I’m Sorry is, in itself, a thing of beauty.

Tracklist:

1    Higher
2    When I’m Sleeping Alone
3    Í Ævir
4    Ghost
5    In Circles
6    Dream Through Me
7    Home
8    If I ever made you cry, I’m sorry

Released on the following formats:
As 12″ vinyl record and digitally on all major platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.). You can check it out on the player below.

Credits:

Higher:
Words and melody by Lea Kampmann (FO, 2018)
Production by Per Ingvald Højgaard (FO, 2020)
Mix by Jens Ladekarl Thomsen (FO, 2020)
Master by Matt Colton (EN, 2021)
Cover art by: Kirstin Helgadóttir (FO, 2020)
Pictures by: Beinta á Torkilsheyggi

When I’m Sleeping Alone:
Words and melody by Lea Kampmann (FO, 2020)
Production by Per Ingvald Højgaard (FO, 2020)
Mix by Jens Ladekarl Thomsen (FO, 2021)
Master by Matt Colton (EN, 2021)
Cover art by: Kirstin Helgadóttir (FO, 2021)
Pictures by: Vár Samuelsen and Alda Eyðunardóttir Mohr (FO, 2020)

Í Ævir:
Words and melody by Lea Kampmann (DK, 2019)
Production by Lea Kampmann (DK, 2019)
Mix by Jens Ladekarl Thomsen (FO, 2021)
Master by Matt Colton (EN, 2021)

Ghost:
Words and melody by Lea Kampmann and Greta Svabo Bech (FO, 2020)
Production by Per Ingvald Højgaard (FO, 2020)
Mix by Jens Ladekarl Thomsen (FO, 2021)
Master by Matt Colton (EN, 2021)
Cover art by: Kirstin Helgadóttir (FO, 2021)
Pictures by: Vár Samuelsen and Alda Eyðunardóttir Mohr (FO, 2020)

In Circles:
Words and melody by Lea Kampmann (FO, 2018)
Production by Per Ingvald Højgaard (FO, 2020)
Mix by Jens Ladekarl Thomsen (FO, 2021)
Master by Matt Colton (EN, 2021)
Cover art by: Kirstin Helgadóttir (FO, 2021)
Pictures by: Vár Samuelsen and Alda Eyðunardóttir Mohr (FO, 2020)

Dream Through Me:
Words and melody by Lea Kampmann (FO, 2018)
Production by Per Ingvald Højgaard + Vinjar Egilsnes Petersen (FO, 2018)
Mix by Jens Ladekarl Thomsen (FO, 2021)
Master by Matt Colton (EN, 2021)

Home:
Words and melody by Lea Kampmann (FO, 2018)
Production by Per Ingvald Højgaard + Vinjar Egilsnes Petersen + Lea Kampmann (FO, 2018)
Mix by Jens Ladekarl Thomsen (FO, 2021)
Master by Matt Colton (EN, 2021)

If I ever made you cry, I’m sorry:
Words and melody by Lea Kampmann (FO, 2020)
Production by Per Ingvald Højgaard (FO, 2021)
Mix by Jens Ladekarl Thomsen (FO, 2021)
Master by Matt Colton (EN, 2021)