From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Background information
Born (1987-02-18) 18 February 1987 (age 31)
OriginSenja, Troms, Norway
Years active2005–present
Associated acts

Pål Moddi Knutsen (born 18 February 1987 in Senja) is a Norwegian singer, songwriter and author. His music has been described as a blend of folk music and pop, although he refers to himself as a "singer and storyteller".[1]

Moddi is famous for his interpretations and translations of other artists, such as Vashti Bunyan, Pussy Riot and the Norwegian poet Helge Stangnes.

Personal life[edit]

Pål Knutsen was born 18 February 1987 and grew up on the island of Senja in Northern Norway. He debuted 5 years old on the local radio station Draugen, singing a traditional sea shanty. During his early youth, the young Knutsen played classical piano, the cornet in the school's marching band, bass guitar in various rock bands and performed as a rapper.[2]

At 18, he adopted the old family name Moddi and started writing his own songs under that name. After finishing school, the 20 years old Moddi decided try a year off and "travel, play concerts and have fun until I had spent all my money".[3]

Moddi is part of the community around Kråkeslottet in Senja, where he is booking the annual Kråkeslottfestivalen. He has a master's degree from the Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM) at the University of Oslo, where he studied environmental challenges within industrial production of ferrosilicon.[4]

Musical career[edit]

Career beginnings[edit]

Moddi's debut release, Random Skywriting EP, was recorded in the bedroom studio of a friend and distributed in only 20 home-made copies. NRK Urørt, a Norwegian emerging artists radio show, picked up the EP and put it in heavy rotation on Norwegian radio channel P3.[5] The following year, Moddi did some of his first concerts on festivals like by:Larm and Øyafestivalen, where he received good reviews from among others online magazine Pitchfork.[6]


Moddi recorded his debut album Floriography with producer Valgeir Sigurðsson in Iceland. Upon release, it immediately hit the Norwegian album top 10. Q magazine described the album as "irrevocably heart-warming and beautifully constructed piece of melancholic folk-pop".[7] Later that year, Moddi received the A-ha Grant of €120000 and toured as support for Angus and Julia Stone.

Set the House on Fire[edit]

3 January 2013 Moddi presented the single House By The Sea.[8] The album Set the House on Fire was released worldwide on 8 March, accompanied by a social media contest to win the release concert, which was eventually held in the mining village of Banská Štiavnica in Slovakia.[9] Set the House on Fire was nominated for two Norwegian Spellemannprisen.

Kæm va du?[edit]

The same year, Moddi recorded another album, released only half a year after the previous one. Kæm va du? ("Who were you?") differs from previous albums in being sung entirely in Norwegian, and with lyrics borrowed from the Northern Norwegian poets Arvid Hanssen, Helge Stangnes and Ola Bremnes.[10] On the album was also the single Togsang, a reinterpretation of British folk singer Vashti Bunyans 60s cult hit "Train Song". Bunyan later commented that Moddi's was her favourite cover version of any of her songs.[11] Kæm va du? won the Spellemannprisen award for "Folk Album of the Year".[12]


In 2016, Moddi released his fourth studio album, Unsongs, consisting of 12 banned songs from 12 different countries. The lead single from the album, Eli Geva, is a song about the Israeli officer who refused to lead his forces into battle in 1982. The song, originally performed by Norwegian singer Birgitte Grimstad, had not been sung for more than three decades.[13] Following the release, Moddi published the book "Forbudte sanger" (Forbidden songs) where he described the process of making the album. In the book, he also 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.

Political activism[edit]

In 2010 Moddi refused nomination for the €100 000 Statoil grant on environmental grounds, commenting that "I don't want Statoil for a friend. Who on earth accepts a friendship just because you get a million for it?".[14] Moddi has participated on several albums, protests and rallies against the entrance of oil companies into Northern Norway and the Arctic.

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.[15] He did not officially endorse any organised appeal, stating that "the debate is already way too black and white".[16] The thought of creating the album "Unsongs", came as result of cancelling his show in Tel Aviv and receiving a call from Birgitte Grimstad - a Norwegian singer- where she told him that one of her song "Eli Geva" was censored in Israel.

Later the same year, Moddi organised The Train Tour through Europe in collaboration with InterRail, a three-week tour entirely on rails.[17] The tour went through France, Germany and the Czech Republic.

In 2015, Moddi contributed to the album "Fabler om en åpen kirke" in support of the liberal forces within the Norwegian Church. He participated with the song "Vær hilset, fru Bjerkås!", a tribute to Ingrid Bjerkås, the first female priest in service in Norway.

On his 17 November 2016 concert in Kirkenes, Moddi refrained from performing the song Punk Prayer by Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot, after the Russian Consulate General to Norway, Sergej Sjatunovskij-Byurno, warned that performing the song could mean up to six years in prison for the musicians of Arkhangelsk Chamber Orchesta who were backing Moddi on the tour.[1] He eventually played the song on the door steps of the King Oscar II Chapel which is located 500 meters from the Norwegian-Russian border.[18]


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

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"

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

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. ^ "Moddi twitter bio". 11 February 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Moddi homepage biography". Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Gaffa interview". Gaffa. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "NRK Urørt".
  6. ^ "Pitchfork review of Øyafestival". 12 August 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  7. ^ "Q Magazine". 18 April 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  8. ^ "House by the Sea by moddimusik". Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Moddi talks about the living room concerts". Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Moddi home page bio". 5 July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Vashti elsker Moddi". Adresseavisa. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Spellemannsprisen web site". Spellemannsprisen 2014. 15 January 2014. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Moddi 'Unsongs' - making censored music dangerous once again". The Independent. 2016-08-19. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  14. ^ "Millionens forbannelse". NRK Ytring. 14 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "I am cancelling my concert in Tel Aviv". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  17. ^ "Moddi på togturné". Gaffa. 8 April 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  18. ^ "Moddi plays Pussy Riot's Punk Prayer on church steps close to Russian border". The Independent Barents Observer. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  19. ^ "Discography Moddi". Norwegian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  20. ^

External links[edit]