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Background information
Born (1987-02-18) 18 February 1987 (age 36)
OriginSenja, Troms, Norway
Years active2005–present

Pål Moddi Knutsen (born 18 February 1987 in Senja), known by the artist name Moddi, is a Norwegian musician, author and activist, whose contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest or social justice.


Pål Knutsen grew up on the island of Senja in Northern Norway. As a child, he showed a particular concern for the environment, an interest which would come to shape his musical direction in the years to come. During high school, Knutsen was leading the local chapter of the environmentalist group Nature and Youth. "My first songs were an attempt to give a voice to the voiceless nature", he later explained about his motivation to create music.

Musical career[edit]

The first release under the name of Moddi was recorded in 2007 and distributed in 20 home-made copies. Later followed the debut album Floriography, recorded with producer Valgeir Sigurðsson in Iceland and containing songs from Knutsen's period in Nature and Youth. Q magazine described the album as "irrevocably heart-warming and beautifully constructed piece of melancholic folk-pop".[1] On his second album, Moddi presented the single House By The Sea, his best known composition to date.[2]

The same year saw the release of Kæm va du? ("Who were you?"), with lyrics borrowed from the Northern Norwegian poets such as Arvid Hanssen, Helge Stangnes and Ola Bremnes.[3] The album also included the single "Togsang", a reinterpretation of Vashti Bunyans 60s cult hit "Train Song". Bunyan later commented that Moddi's was her favourite cover version of any of her songs.[4] Kæm va du? won the Spellemannprisen award for "Folk Album of the Year".[5]

In 2016, Moddi released his fourth studio album, "Unsongs", consisting of Moddi's reinterpretations and translations of banned and censored songs from 12 different countries. Among the artists included on the album were Pussy Riot (Russia), Izhar Ashdot (Israel), Mari Boine (Norway/Sápmi), Liu Xiaobo (China) and Kate Bush (UK). Following the release, Moddi published the book "Forbudte sanger" (Forbidden songs) where he described a number of attempts to hold back the songs on the album, among others by Russian and Lebanese authorities, and by the British public broadcaster BBC.[6]

In 2019, Moddi released his fifth studio album "Like in 1968", inspired by the events that occurred in 1968.[7]


Moddi is known for bringing his strong political commitment into his music. In January 2010 Moddi refused nomination for the €100 000 Statoil grant on environmental grounds, commenting that a nomination would not be compatible with his environmental engagement.[8] In 2014 Moddi announced that he would be cancelling his scheduled concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, on the grounds that he would not be taken to support the Israeli expansion of settlements in the West Bank.[9] He did not officially endorse any organised appeal, stating that "the debate is already way too black and white".[10]

When Moddi released his version of the Pussy Riot song Punk Prayer in 2016, he did so by recording a music video on the doorstep of the King Oscar II Chapel, marking the Northern border between Norway and Russia.[11] On his concert in Kirkenes the same year, Moddi was pressured into dropping the same song after indirect pressure from Russian diplomats.[12]


Pål Moddi Knutsen has a master's degree from the Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM) at the University of Oslo. In his master thesis "Visions through the smelting furnace", he studied the Norwegian smelting plant Finnfjord in their course towards a carbon-neutral ferrosilicon production process.[13]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Produced by Details Peak chart positions
Floriography Valgeir Sigurðsson 9
Set the House on Fire Hasse Rosbach
  • Released: 8 March 2013
  • Label: Propeller
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
Kæm va du? Hasse Rosbach
  • Released: 11 October 2013
  • Label: Propeller
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
Unsongs Hasse Rosbach
  • Released: 16 September 2016
  • Label: Propeller
  • Formats: Digital download, CD
Like in 1968 Hasse Rosbach
  • Released: 13 September 2019
  • Label: Propeller
  • Formats: Digital download, CD

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
Random Skywriting
(Split LP with Einar Stray)
  • Released: 2008
  • Label: Playground, Spoon Train Audio
  • Formats: Digital download
  • Released: 15 October 2010
  • Label: Propeller
  • Formats: Digital download
Music for Frankenstein
  • Released: 12 March 2015
  • Label: Nordland teater
  • Formats: Digital download

Live albums[edit]

Title Details
Live Parkteateret
Live at Jakob Church of Culture
  • Released: 22 September 2014
  • Label: Propeller
  • Formats: Digital download


Year Title Album
2009 "Nordnorsk julesalme" Non-album single
2011 "Ardennes" Floriography
"Thimbleweed" Non-album single
"Smoke" Floriography
2013 "House by the Sea" Set the House on Fire
"Run to the Water"
"Grønt Lauv I Snyen" Kæm va du?
"En Sang Om Fly"
2014 "Sola" Non-album singles
"Train Song"
"Eli Geva" Unsongs
2015 "Silhouette" Set the House on Fire
2016 "Punk Prayer" Unsongs
"Army Dreamers"
"A Matter of Habit"
2019 "Little By Little" Like in 1968
"New Dawn"
2020 "Haus am Meer" Non-album singles

Other appearances[edit]

Year Artist Album Notes
2009 Kråkesølv Trådnøsting Accordion
2011 Einar Stray Chiaroscuro Vocals
Synne Sanden When Nobody's Around
Thomas Dybdahl Før morgengry Accordion
2019 På Stengrunn Underveis Vocals
På Stengrunn På Gjensyn Accordion

Other releases[edit]

  • 2010 – Hjertestups withTogsang (Tyrili)
  • 2010 – Samleplate for oljefritt Lofoten, Vesterålen og Senja with the song Krokstav-emne
  • 2011 – Vi tenner våre lykter with the song Nordnorsk julesalme
  • 2012 – Norge, mitt Norge..? with the songs Det stig av hav eit oljeland and Deilig er Norden
  • 2015 – Fabler om en åpen folkekirke with the song Vær hilset, fru Bjerkås!


  1. ^ "Q Magazine". Facebook. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  2. ^ "Moddi". Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  3. ^ "Moddi home page bio". 5 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Vashti elsker Moddi". Adresseavisa. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Spellemannsprisen web site". Spellemannsprisen 2014. 15 January 2014. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  6. ^ Moddi (2017). Forbudte sanger ti historier - fem kontinenter. Aschehoug. ISBN 978-8203296857.
  7. ^ "Like in 1968 Musikknyheter Review". Musikknyheter. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Millionens forbannelse". NRK Ytring. 14 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Moddi cancels Tel Aviv gig after appeal from Gaza". 3 January 2014. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  10. ^ "I am cancelling my concert in Tel Aviv". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Moddi plays Pussy Riot's Punk Prayer on church steps close to Russian border". The Independent Barents Observer. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  12. ^ "Playing Punk Prayer in Norway could mean years in prison". The Independent Barents Observer. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  13. ^ Knutsen, Pål Moddi (22 October 2018). "Visions through the Smelting Furnace – The Story of a Norwegian Smelting Plant towards Carbon-Neutral Ferrosilicon Production" (PDF). University of Oslo. University of Oslo.
  14. ^ "Discography Moddi". Norwegian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  15. ^ "VG-lista - Moddi". Archived from the original on 2016-06-11. Retrieved 2016-09-23.

External links[edit]