Sunniva Lindgaard has always been an independent spirit
Despite describing herself as “super curious”, Sunniva Lindgaard has always hung back in social situations. “As a child, I could stare at other kids playing in my street for hours without going over to them and saying hello,” she explains over the phone from her Oslo apartment, laughing as she recalls eventually breaking the deadlock “after way too long staring”.
Of course, there’s a lot to be said for being reserved, and for embracing self-imposed solitude, which society tends to confuse for loneliness. Certainly, Sunni seems upbeat today discussing the decision to revert Sassy 009 to a solo project, following the departures of bandmates Teodora Georgijevic and Johanna Scheie Orellana at the start of the year. As she tells it, the whole process was “very natural, really”, though she’s polite yet firm in her refusal to reveal whether the split was amicable.
“I’m used to working alone with music,” she insists, silencing my digging. “[When Sassy 009 was a three-piece] I made the music first on my own, and then we finished the tracks together. So the process now is just taking away the part of presenting my ideas to someone else who has their opinions and their input. And now it’s about the friction inside myself instead of friction with other people.”
Sunni has always been an independent spirit. Born to classically-trained musicians, she spent her early years immersed in music, first in Stockholm – where she was born – and then in Oslo, where she moved with her mother at the age of six, following her parents’ separation. Concerts and recitals were a regular fixture of her childhood, as were music lessons, with Sunni picking up and subsequently quitting violin, cello, flute, piano and double bass. “I think I just had teachers that didn’t really understand that I just wanted to play,” she reflects. “And I was so caught up in playing beautifully, instead of practising techniques and methods… So I guess classical music has been a big part of my life, but I’ve also always been kind-of rejecting it.”
Her epiphany came in eighth grade, when she signed up to her high school’s music course. “I picked the course quite randomly, thinking we [would be] playing in a band or whatever. But we were given these different tasks on the computer, making covers of a song, like, actually producing music. So that was my strange route into understanding that [music] is something that I really, really love to do.”
Inspired by watching female producers like Grimes thriving, Sunni started uploading her productions to SoundCloud, with her page’s throwaway handle ‘Sassy 009’ adopted as a placeholder name for the project, which subsequently stuck. However, it was some time later, while attending folk school, that she invited childhood friends Teodora and Johanna to collaborate on the project. As Sunni recalls, from that point onwards things accelerated rapidly.
“I had never played in a band myself, so this was just a thing we threw out there. Everything just went so fast: it took half a year or something from when we became a band to when we met [producer] Andrew [Murray, AKA Baya] and things started going quite well.”
Quite well counts as an understatement: their single ‘Pretty Baby’ received glowing praise from press in both the US and UK – who adored its techno-rooted take on electro-pop – and soon the trio were touring internationally, including performing before Norwegian royalty at SXSW. Their debut EP, Do You Mind, arrived in November of 2017. They didn’t know it at the time, but it was to be their last release as a three-piece.