Skip to content

– I refuse to play jazz

Photo: Carine Louise Nilsen

Unni talks with everyone. She readily admits to being a true friend of Bodø.

– Bodø is one of the places in Norway where I spend the most time, where I have the most friends, and when I’m here I always stay for an extra day or two in order to be with them.

Audiences in Bodø can be restless, especially on Saturdays when they’ve been drinking, she points out.

– I’ve invented a new expression: “the kinder egg audience”. This kind of audience provides me with three things: they shut up when I’m singing, they laugh when I’m trying to be funny, and they cheer between songs so that I know they’re enjoying themselves. And this kind of audience cannot be found everywhere in Norway!

She claims that she lives off of the feedback she gets from an audience. People not making a living from entertaining audiences, they have no idea what it means, she exclaims, and claims she had no idea what it meant when actors said they were feeding off an audience’s energy until she became a musician.

– “Fuck, you guys are the ones with a job to do,” I thought. But after I became a musician I understood that if people aren’t open, I won’t understand if they enjoyed what I just said. It’s basic psychology!


Unni doesn’t just use herself in songs, but between songs as well. This isn’t something that has happened as the result of planning, but comes naturally to her.

– People gain more from funny or very personal lyrics if I explain why I wrote them. Then there’s the fact that if you’ve bought an album, but never seen me live, you have your own version of what a particular song is about. If you bother going to a concert, you get something extra. Either, your version is confirmed, or you gain a completely different point of view. It’s a kind of bonus, and it also makes me thrive on stage.


Unni says that jazz is the last thing on her mind at the sound of her name, and she admits to struggling with the genre. She never listens to the genre, and she doesn’t even like certain sub-genres.

– I can be ok with it, but the thing is that Finn Sletten, the drummer, happened to be at a gig of mine in Oslo. When he heard me, he thought “it would have been cool to hear her sing jazz music!” I refuse to play jazz, though! I think that the boys do their best to play jazz around me, but I’m not playing it. But they make me sing somewhat more jazzy than I would normally have done, and then we meet somewhere in the middle. But if anyone asks me whether I play jazz; “No, never!”

Wilhelmsens latest album, Live with Bodø Rythm Group (BRG) featuring Bodø Sinfonietta, was also accomplished as a collaberation with Finn Sletten. He works as a regional musician and connects singers with BRG and Bodø Sinfonietta.