Young and unapologetic: this is Emma Steinbakken

There is a crop of young extraordinary artists coming through in Norway these days. The latest to bloom on our radars is 15 year old Emma Steinbakken.


The singer-songwriter, sowed and rooted in Jessheim, recalls having her first sounds come out in a treble clef before even uttering her first word as she tells her local newspaper about having dabbled in several styles of writing such as poem -and fiction writing before the lyric composing transpired. In 2017 she landed the role as Annie The Orphan in her local play of Annie which is when she piqued the interest of her current manager of two years. The Jessheim native is now part of the lucky roster of talent housed by Little Big Sister, a full service management home successfully administering the career and art of some of the most precious and highly acclaimed artists in the country. Distributed by Caroline International, she has only three singles to her name so far topped off by the new, sombre and woe-fueled duet Melancholia” with fellow Norwegian pop comet Ruben.


Her debut single “Not Gonna Cry” arrived roughly a month before the new year and has managed to surpass a whopping 5 million streams. It immediately received a spot on NRK P3’s hitlist; a nationwide radio channel operated by Norway’s largest broadcasting company. The track was produced by the Norwegian music duo Skinny Days and co-written alongside Emma herself. It depicts the day to day basis of a budding teenager in high school harbouring the all-consuming emotions derived from the inevitable ephemeral heartbreaks. The story doesn’t quite pertain to a wide demographic, but nonetheless it serves as a realistic sonical flick of her life at present, and there will always be some kind of appeal to someone expressing their truth. Whether you’re young right now or have been young, we all know what it feels like to be hurt. Despite the struggles described, it doesn’t occult from its unapologetic nature. The song still stands as an empowering anthem with lines such as  “But all of the grenades you threw. They just made me bulletproof” and “You’re a cigarette and I’m quitting”, followed by the chorus’ cathartic line “I’m not gonna cry for you” being repeated like a mantra -ultimately expressing that she knows her worth and that she won’t shed any tears for someone who doesn’t.


Her second single “Without You” offers a remarkably stunning and emotive string arrangement accompanied by raw, vulnerable vocals. A heart rending lamentation centered around the sentiments of lost love and despair. The swelling, piano-centric ballad was penned by Emelie Hollow, Steinbakken and her executive producer Ole Torjus. It was picked up by the teen-drama film “Psychobitch” to be a part of its soundtrack earlier this year, additionally offering a music video transitioning between scenes from the motion picture and Steinbakken in a gloomy living room -backed by a beautiful choreography from Oskar Vigren. This tear-jerker paints the picture of the all-too-familiar concept of not fully grasping what you had until you’ve pushed it away with your immaculately honed self-destructive skills followed by an existential crisis. The reason unfolded in the lines “Fall back into the same old pattern in my heart. Cause I’d rather break in two than in a million parts”. We tend to fend off the things and the people that are good for us as a defense mechanism because of how scared we are of losing them. So we act out and chase them away, because in our darkest and most selfish moments we’d rather cut our losses and hurt someone else than get hurt.


In “Young” she illustrates the allure of adulthood, the urge to take risks and the yearning for novelty in every corner. It is a bouncy bop containing a considerable list of personal ambitions such as ‘swimming with dolphins’ and ‘sneaking into a Kanye concert’. What it means to be young is a notion that could be explained in an abundance of ways and to Emma it means wandering through a field of impulses and temptations with little patience. The artist stated that it is in fact about wanting to grow up sooner and confesses that she has always felt older than she is. Steinbakken has an unabashedly honest sound paired with a captivatingly distinct vocal texture that will send chills down your spine. And the sincere nature in her expression is of one that totally belies her years.


It has been less than a year since her debut and she has already managed to score a deal with SONY ATV, Caroline International and rocking the socks off of everybody at by:Larm 2019 before even setting the seal on 10th grade. She is a promising artist with more music on the way and more shows to play. After delivering two astonishing performances at John Dee and Kulturkirken Jakob in March, she is set to perform at a bunch of upcoming festivals this summer including the annual Musikkfest Oslo festival, Fredvikafestivalen and so much more. Check out Emma’s socials down below to stay updated.