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June 28, 2023 5 min read

The Norwegian irrepressible pop force talks the relationship between his queerness and art. 

                                                                          Photography by Lasse Fløde                                                                            

“The first time I saw Brokeback Mountain, I realised the necessity of queer stories,” Sverre – Metteson – Breivik tells Man About Town. “I’d always thought I could relate to any story, sympathise with whomever, I don't know. I didn't realise I'd been missing it terribly in my life. I opened up like a flood gate and got quite angry and extremely inspired to find more queer stories.” 

Now a singer, songwriter and performance icon in ascent, Breivik is telling his own, crafting music that’s expansive in genre, statuesque in scale, and unique in its fabric. He’s been compared to everyone from Robyn, Whitney Houston, and rock’n’roll-imbued American artist Perfume Genius, plus fellow-Scandi pop veterans, ABBA. His performance acumen, flaunted recently at Meltdown (an artist-curated festival at London’s Southbank Centre, this year helmed by Christine & The Queens), is transcendent, driven by theatre, choreography, bulletproof vocals and, of course, queer power. 

Chatting to Man About Town, Metteson discusses the meaning of Pride Month for him in 2023, navigating the industry as a queer artist, and the urgency of queer art in the 2020s.


Hi Metteson! Thanks for sitting down with us. What does Pride Month mean to you as a queer person in 2023?

I love Pride Month, but after the horrible [2022 Oslo Pride shooting] attack last year, a small piece of me also fears Pride Month. I hate that. I can't help it. But I'll fight the fear and find freedom in the celebrations and protests again, I'll make sure. It's been turned on its head for me and many in my generation in Norway. It's not just love and freedom and partying anymore – I feel a responsibility. Pride Month is more important to me than ever. I want the kids who couldn't walk the parade last year to feel safe and feel pride, just like I did when I first walked and danced with strangers and future friends, ten years ago.


Do you think through your artistry, you’ve become more acquainted with your own queerness? 

I started writing songs to explore the love I hadn't experienced in romantic relations before. The love I fantasised about having. Songwriting is an amazing outlet for my queerness but I was very surprised that I was perceived as "so queer" and progressive in the beginning of my music career. I think I had a blind spot, being surrounded by so many artists through work and studies, I thought I was quite middle of the road, especially pop-music wise. Now I relish in pushing some boundaries, because I've realised and gotten used to the idea of my music taking space in peoples living room and radios - families and communities that are far less progressive than mine. It's very inspiring.


What has your own journey with expressing your queerness in your work been like? Is it something you always felt comfortable doing?

I have a background in theatre, so I was always very conscious about the way I present and being able to pass as straight was always quite big on the agenda in theatre school and on stage. Teachers and others would make remarks, overtly direct about pitch or posture, and I never got to explore my queerness on stage because I so often had to prove my versatility and that I could fit into the male lead box. This was very frustrating and quite patronising at times. Going into music, I freed myself from all those conventions. Now, how I present and my queerness is something I still reflect upon but in a positive, fun and productive way. I'm my own commentator and director, which is nice.


 Photography by Lasse Fløde

Have you ever faced hurdles in expressing queerness in an unvarnished, authentic way?

I think perhaps I've put up most of my hurdles myself. Luckily, as a cis pop artist in Norway, I've been welcomed with fairly-open arms. I'm not really sure how to create or find that environment but you feel it when you're there. For me, feeling safe and free is also a question of the necessity of portraying myself as queer. Being queer and loud can be freeing, fun, scary, a superhero cape and a burden. I feel best when the music speaks for itself and I can shove my artistry up front.


Was there a lightbulb cultural moment that you consumed as a child that was impactful for you as a queer person? 

Watching Angels in America on stage and later playing Prior myself has been very important. And playing with one of my biggest heroes Christine and The Queens' Meltdown Festival this month was a crazy full-circle [moment] for me.


Nowadays, when you’re not making art yourself, where do you find yourself turning to to consume queer culture?

Drag. Drag is the simple answer. I love drag; the artistry, silliness and seriousness combined. I'm also a big reader during the summer and I constantly find amazing voices in literature - Ocean Vuong and Andrew McMillan are some of my faves.


Who are some fellow queer creatives who are inspiring you just now?

Well, I've already mentioned Ocean Vuong, Andrew McMillan and Christine and the Queens. Besides them, I always have an eye on what Charles Jeffrey is making and girl in red is someone I admire for her fire and songwriting – she's also so chill and nice.


What do you think the power of queer art is in the 2020s?

Wow, a difficult question. I feel stupid even trying to answer that from my little corner of the world. But I'll try. Perhaps simply – joy and persistence. Being able to create alternate realities and communities in a world that is difficult but interesting to navigate and live in. I'm not sure how much the role of queer art has changed. In some circles it's intertwined with everything else. Elsewhere, it will always be something in the margins, on the side. Some people are fighting to keep queer art as something specific and others wish for it to be viewed as the norm. It'll be interesting to see where we're at in ten years time.