We had the good fortune of connecting with Maja Shining and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maja, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Hard work and honesty in the product. When we started the band, it wasn’t because we wanted to make a lot of money or be recognized around the world. It was because we actually had something to say, something we felt like, we needed to share with the world and the world responded that they needed to hear it. I think that’s one of the most powerful things about the music that people can actually feel the emotion and intent in it and they can relate to it and that’s what we hear from those who listen. In that way music is such a different business than most others, because they usually start out as passion projects. When we finished up our first EP, we realised that if we wanted anyone to hear it, we had to put in the work on that end as well. I’ve heard people say that if the music is good enough, people will come to you. Clearly they’re not in the music business. The market is oversaturated and you have to push push push to break through to people, who have the next band waiting right around the corner. We had made a heartfelt and high quality product and then we worked tirelessly to reach out and connect with anyone, who showed the slightest interest in the music, which is what attracted the attention of a record label and ultimately landed us a record deal with the world’s biggest independent hard rock/metal label, Nuclear Blast Records.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a vocalist/pianist/thereminist and songwriter in the band Forever Still, which I co-founded together with Mikkel Haastrup, who plays all the instruments in the studio and bass live. I believe one of our strengths is how we convey emotion through our songs and how we’re not afraid to experiment with a lot of different sounds. When you find someone you have great chemistry with, writing songs are, well, not easy, but very intuitive. Getting the music out to people is a different story and definitely took a lot of hard work, breaking through a very saturated market and we’ve definitely had a lot of years, where we didn’t have a life outside of the band. There’ll always be obstacles on the road to success, but the main thing is to power through and do your best to change your situation. And, when it’s out of your power, grit your teeth and know that it’ll pass. It’s all about persistence and knowing that obstacles don’t equal defeat. Having someone to lean on, who’s in it with you, I also found to be very uplifting. Despite having a big record deal now, we started out as a 100% DIY-band and we still are to a great extent. Since the early beginnings we recorded our own music, Mikkel mixed and mastered it, we shot our own band photos and music videos, which I edited and I created the artwork for our cd’s and shirts and we booked our own shows. A lot of that was out of necessity, but it also gave us a chance to be 100% in control of our entire creative output, musically and visually, which is why we’ve largely kept it that way, while still opening up to more collaborations with other creatives.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m a real nature girl living in the city, but luckily Copenhagen is perfect for that and no matter where you are, you’re only a short bike ride (of course!) away from it. We have this great, big nature reserve close by that I absolutely love and go to often. You’re almost certain to see wild deer, lots of birds and there’s marshland, woods and then the ocean, where you’re able to take a peek at our neighbours, Sweden. I only cook at home, so I’m a terrible guide for specific local cuisine, but a thing to try when you’re in Denmark is definitely “smørrebrød”, which is an open face sandwich on rye bread. Delicious and standard lunch for most danes (I just had one with mayo and potatoes today!). While smørrebrød is not the best option for takeaway food, there’s lots and lot’s of food places in Denmark, and I think the perfect thing for summer would be grabbing something to go and sit and enjoy it in the park in central Copenhagen called Kongens Have (King’s Garden). Yup, it’s right next to a castle and you’re within walking distance of even more. You’re also just a short walk away from Nyhavn (“Newport”), where you can go on guided boat rides and taste some local Danish cuisine – and schnapps! A must is of course the grand old Tivoli, an iconic amusement park that’s almost 180 years old and very atmospheric.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Mikkel Haastrup, the co-creator of Forever Still. He was the one who always believed in me and the project and encouraged me to pursue my talent, when I wasn’t sure what to do with my life.
All band photos by Tim Tronckoe