Denmark’s number one pop star recently moved back to her home country after living in the UK for eight years. Nick Parkhouse spoke to Tina Dico about stardom, her new album and playing gigs in Nottingham
Tina Dico is enjoying herself. Sitting in a Danish studio (at one point she is asked to keep her voice down as she’s interrupting the session), she talks warmly and reflectively on her ten-year career and on her new album Welcome Back Colour – an anthology of a decade’s work.
“Picking the songs for the album was really difficult. I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just a repetition,” she says.
“I wanted to make sure that I was offering something new and something different. And also, for my own sake, I wanted to revisit some of these songs as it was my way of looking back over the last ten years.
“I also wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just retrospective; not just the end of something. I wanted to have it point forward as well.”
While the 33-year-old may be a relative unknown in the UK – if you can count selling 30,000 records as “unknown” – Dico is a huge star in her native Denmark.
Her single Welcome Back Colour was a number one last year, she has played the Orange stage at the legendary Roskilde festival and, in 2008, won the coveted Crown Prince and Princess’s Cultural Award.
I wondered whether it was strange to go from being a massive idol to relative obscurity when travelling between Denmark and the UK.
“I have as much success as you can have in Denmark,” she says. “I play all of the biggest shows and it’s more like being a pop star. It can’t get any bigger. But it wouldn’t make me a happier person or musician if I had the exact same thing in the UK or in Germany. I still dream of being able to go to a city and there will be a healthy-sized audience waiting. I am still working on that.
“The UK and the US are the most difficult territories for the kind of music I do.
“Where I started out I was doing small, very intimate shows which are very natural for the kind of music I do.
“The way it has happened in Denmark is surreal and I find it a little difficult to relax into that role. It’s really lovely for me to do small shows where it’s all about the songs on a more personal level.”
As she both writes and sings in English, a move to London in 2002 was a logical step. A collaboration with Zero 7 followed – Dico co-wrote their hit Home and toured with them in 2004 – before her breakthrough album in the UK, In the Red, was released in 2005.
Did she enjoy her time in the UK, and what prompted her move back to Denmark?
“London was always like a desert island,” she says. “When I was back in my London flat I enjoyed the peace and quiet of it – I lived a quite sparse and lonely life. I guess after eight years I felt a bit fed up with that kind of life.”
Having lived in the UK and extensively toured over recent years, the singer is a regular visitor to Nottingham. “Oh yes, I have been to Nottingham, probably seven or eight times.
“I played there with Zero 7 and supported A-ha in Nottingham – I have been there many times and I feel like I know the city quite well, actually.
“I’ve taken many walks around the city and I have my favourite cafes that I go to.”
Welcome Back Colour is an anthology that both reflects on Dico’s career to date and points towards the future.
“Since I started, I very much felt like I was on a mission as an artist and a writer,” she adds.
“I had a very strong sense that I had jumped on a train and was just going fast and not really looking to the sides.
“That’s definitely changed for me now; I feel like anything can happen.”