Norway isn’t a hotbed of rap. Nor are farms. Mind you, you could have said the same about Ireland, even our cities, not long ago, and now we have the likes of Denise Chaila and JYellowL lighting up the international airwaves. Ash Olsen doesn’t fit stereotypes. The prodigious rural Norwegian talent is so committed to delivering her craft in the form she wanted, she learnt English from scratch just to get started.
“Growing up I had a lot of time on my hands,” Olsen says, looking back at her rural life. “Just being there for most of my time really gave me the whole world to fantasise about. So the biggest difference to me [next to more urban hip-hop acts] I think is that I had no distractions whatsoever and was fortunate enough to have what I needed to just isolate myself and work super hard, since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to be successful and be the best I can be at what I do. I do think that growing up where I did influenced a lot of my perspective in life, which now translates through my music.”
Not that the space she had made Olsen’s journey to one of the most highly regarded up and coming hip-hop acts in Europe a simple one, particularly with regards to language.
“I really just studied my ass off for a long time, and I used to write down every word I didn’t understand, to then translate it and learn it properly,” she says of her experience learning English as part of her craft. “Still to this day I’m not confident with my writing, but I´ve learned to just go with my gut and what feels natural to me, and also not care that much about what other people think. I’m not really that big of a fan of [writing in] Norwegian so I’m probably not gonna merge the two. I’ve always just been more attracted to the English way of doing it.”
The work that Olsen’s completed so far has emerged in the form of a short, abrasive all-caps EP entitled ‘ASHY’, a ‘not suitable for work’ railing against life, one that’s explicit about her sexuality, delves into social problems and unveils her as an artist with quite a unique style.
“I’ve actually been sitting on a lot of the songs on the project for a while, but it took forever to pick out the songs for this first EP,” She says. “The promotion of it has been tough in the way that I can’t go out and perform that much. I’m super excited for this covid stuff to be over!”
“I’m sitting on a lot of music and I can’t wait to put out my album. I had so much fun making it and there´s different vibes to it that I can’t wait to share with ya´ll.”
Olsen has distinct plans about what her future might hold, ones that fit her style and will likely see her become a mainstay on hip-hop leaning radio as she develops what’s already widely expected to be a shining career, spreading far outside of her homeland.
“My goal for the upbeat songs is definitely for them to just be fun, and make people feel super confident when they listen. But I do have a lot of other sides to my music which I’m very excited to share with you soon!”
“I have my first festival summer in 2022, playing a lot of festivals nationally and internationally, so that’s gonna be fun! It’s all pretty crazy, I just try to not to think about it too much, and just keep doing my thing. If not, imma go insane, cause it’s all pretty scary in a way.”