Jimi Somewhere is a 22-year-old Norwegian alternative-pop artist. (Photo by Dev Dhunsi)

Jimi Somewhere takes nostalgic alt-pop to new heights

Jimi Somewhere’s secret weapon is gratitude. The 22-year-old Norwegian artist is deeply appreciative of his present success and past experiences, especially those that are difficult to revisit.

His positive attitude reflects in his demeanor — his breezy speaking voice, rosy cheeks, and frequently dyed hair — but also in his music, where he extracts the essence from both mundane and sensational memories to produce cathartic alternative-pop songs.

Jimi’s memory is uniquely proactive, serving as a well brimming with potential songwriting opportunities. He demonstrated the intensity of his nostalgia by describing a turning point in his artistic development.

“I met my producer Milo Orchis when I was in eighth grade at this summer camp on an island with this lighthouse. I remember a very special night of just sitting outside the lighthouse watching it spin, feeling super connected to him and the other people I met who I’d only known for 12 hours,” he said. “It was wild and rare, but it was meant to be.” 

Even at a young age, he knew he had entered a friendship deeper than most people ever experience. “Moonrise,” a sentimental track from his upcoming debut album, implicitly narrates his first encounter with his producer, using a swelling string section and wailing vocal inflections to channel the powerful bond formed at the lighthouse all those years ago.

Jimi isn’t necessarily living a better life than the rest of us — although his music and videos definitely feel prettier than most realities. He says he’s heavily inspired by his picturesque surroundings in Norway, to which he attributes his airy and free sound design. His videos, which are self-directed, tell classic coming-of-age stories set in foreign scenery to his American viewers, giving him a subtle mystique. 

“I always felt like my music belonged more in America than in the Norwegian scene, since nobody really sounded like me out here. Still, when we make videos, you’ve seen so much of America since thats the biggest place for pop culture, so we try to show environments the world hasn’t seen before,” Jimi said.

His new single “Jesus” takes conventional Christian rock elements and flips them into a desperate plea for belonging. The beating electric guitars are reminiscent of worship music, but he’s running away from religion, not toward it. 

“I haven’t prayed in a couple years now and I/ Don’t think that I am brave enough,” he sings bluntly. The lyrics are plain but devastating, confessing insecurities that have clearly been contemplated at length. 

Jimi grew up going to church every weekend, but he never felt the connection his family had with the community. He began noticing practices he didn’t agree with and realized his values didn’t align with those around him. 

“I had to reflect on which values I really agreed with and which ones were just things I’ve been taught. I had that feeling where you need to break free from everything you know and just breathe for a minute and figure out what your values are and what you want to do with your life, confronting everything you’ve been taught growing up,” he said.

“Jesus” was recorded in Norway during the winter of 2017 but it certainly feels warmer than the near-freezing temperatures of the Baltic climate. He transforms his frustrations into a roar that feels like a tornado at its peak, climaxing with an electric guitar solo that achieves his longing to break free. Even after reflecting on his difficult experience, there’s no lasting resentment.

“I think Jesus is a great example of how people should try to be. There was no judgement, there was love for everybody, which I feel like has kind of gotten lost in Christian communities. It was a big system to speak against, it can be like talking to a wall,” he said.

This was one of the first songs Jimi stashed for his debut album, which was recorded over the past three years. 

“It’s always been my drive to make great albums, but we quickly realized you need some experience to make an album and make it as good as possible. We kind of put away songs that sound extra special,” Jimi said. “It’s cool to see things stand the test of time, since a song we made in 2017 doesn’t feel old three years later, so hopefully it doesn’t sound old three years in the future”

Although the album only took three years to make, the vault of memories and emotions Jimi draws from took all of his 22 years to accumulate. He says he made it to be the soundtrack for special moments in people’s lives, which makes sense, considering those are the moments that fueled the project. 

“It’s called ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ which is a prettier way to say nothing left, which is a beautiful thing and a sad thing … appreciating every special moment in your life, because next thing you know, it’s over,” Jimi said.

It’s practically guaranteed Jimi Somewhere will continue making memories and reflecting on them, and he hopes you do the same — with his music in the background.

“Jesus” is available for streaming now, and “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is set to release November 20.