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Meet Berit Dybing, or Ber for short, the newest indie-pop sensation to emerge from the Twin Cities. You might’ve seen the Bemidji to Norway to England to Minneapolis singer and songwriter dancing around in a Wild jersey to one of her songs on TikTok, or maybe you snagged the chance to see her perform live in December opening up for her pal and fellow local indie rockstar Landon Conrath. Either way, her Maggie Rogers-esque lyrical honesty and danceable, mini-mosh jams have been making waves since her first EP, And I’m Still Thinking About That, came out after moving back to her home state because of the pandemic.

The 24-year-old’s second EP, Halfway, hit streaming platforms last month, right before she went on her first headlining tour, which concludes at the Entry this Friday. Ber sat down with us to dive into the ins and outs of her new music, her constant travel bug, and why making music in cold Minnesota basements is just the best. 

First things first, congrats on the new EP, Halfway. How does it feel having it out in the world? 

It feels really good, it’s a really fun EP. Every single song is a little piece of what the last six months of my life has felt like, which is so cool to see in the world. I worked on it with so many Minneapolis people and I also got to co-write some of the songs with my friends in London last summer, so it’s just really fun to see these songs alive and off of my laptop. 

What Twin Cities folks did you work with? 

Now, Now, the local duo made up of KC Dalager and Brad Hale, co-wrote four of the six songs with me and co-produced those same songs. We wrote those songs in Brad’s basement in the Nokomis neighborhood, and to me, those songs really feel like they were written in a cold basement in Minnesota, which I think is really fun. Also, Landon Conrath, who happens to be a really good friend of mine, was a huge part. We started touring together and he played in my live set for a long time, and in the middle of all of that we also did some writing. A song that we wrote together called “Your Internet Sucks” made it on the record, which is sick. He’s a legend and one of the nicest people in music that I’ve met. I feel the same way about Brad and KC. They really took me under their wing and have been my mentors in helping me discover Minnesota, which has been awesome. 

Originally you’re from up north in Bemidji, but you’ve spent some time all over the world. What’s that been like?

Yeah, I don’t like staying still. I actually spent my whole childhood in Walker, Minnesota, and then I went to high school in Bemidji, but whenever people ask me where I’m from, Bemidji feels like the right answer. I was up there until I graduated, and when I graduated I knew I needed to go and get out. I knew that the world was so much bigger than Minnesota and I really wanted to experience that. So, I have family in Norway and I took a gap year and went to study in a school in Norway for the year between when I graduated high school and when I went into college. And then I got the travel bug again and just loved not living in Minnesota and decided to move to England. I went to a music conservatory in Leeds in northern England. I’ve only ever lived in cold, dark places where the temperatures were reminiscent of home but it was great to be in a different place and be abroad for so long. 

The pandemic actually brought me back in December 2020, once I graduated and my visa expired. Being away from Minnesota was really eye-opening, but it also changed everything about Minnesota for me. When I finally came back, everything was really unfamiliar all of a sudden. But these past two and a half years, it’s been really nice to almost re-learn everything about the state and really start to feel like this is my home again. I ended up living with my aunt and uncle and their dog in south Minneapolis, and it was really nice to hunker in for a year and a half while I finally got on my feet. I mean, I graduated with a music degree during the world shutdown. I didn’t exactly have money and/or plans to find a job in Minneapolis. I really just spent that time working on my music. 

Where did your love for music come from? How did you get started in it? 

I’m a big musical theater person. I grew up doing and participating in every single community theater show I could up in Bemidji from 7 to 18 years old. I did 19 musicals and I just was super passionate about it. I think it fueled not only my love for music, but also for performing. In my house growing up, my parents would always have the Bee Gees on in the kitchen and my brother is the biggest Beatles fan on the planet. But my start with singing and performing really stemmed from musical theater, and that’s actually what I was going to study if I had come back to Minnesota after my gap year. I was going to pursue a BFA at the University of Minnesota. 

When did you start playing instruments? Was that later on?

My mom put me in piano lessons when I was six. I begged my parents to let me play guitar and so I started playing that when I was 10. I’ve always been a big music gal, I’ve sang in every choir that I could and did show choir in high school. Music has always been at the front of my brain and right in front of me. I was really fortunate to live and grow up in a very musical community, especially one that’s as well known for their music and show choir programs as Bemidji is. I was really lucky to be in the right place at the right time. 

Between dropping your first EP, And I’m Still Thinking About That, last year and dropping Halfway this month, both records came out once you were back here. What inspired you to start writing and releasing your music after being back in Minnesota versus while you were still in England? 

You’re going to hate my answer. I was really sad when I moved home. When I was living in England, I was mostly pursuing writing for other artists and I wasn’t really contemplating what it would feel like to have an artist project, myself. At the back of my mind, I always knew that that was going to be something that I wanted to do, but it just wasn’t on my mind while I was studying and writing and I wasn’t allowed to perform while I was over there because of my Visa. So I really sank into learning and practicing my piano, guitar, and songwriting skills. We were always working on music consistently over there, but it was never something that I felt like I really wanted to put out. 

When I got home, I was all of a sudden trying to navigate what it felt like to feel really alone in a place that’s supposed to feel like a safety blanket. It was really wild to come home and realize that I don’t know anybody here, I literally have no friends, and that I’m living with my aunt and uncle and their dog. You know, those were the people I was seeing everyday, and I truly love them for everything they’ve given me, but it was a really weird place mentally for me when I was 22 years old. I got my heart super broken as well right before this move and it was tough. While I was living there, I was writing about it everyday and practiced and started posting TikToks and just really was trying my best to navigate through that. Eventually, without me thinking that this was a project, my manager sent me a list of the six songs I had written and said “Hear me out—I think this is your debut EP and I want you to be an artist.” 

Spending so much time in the UK and in Norway, how would you compare the music scenes in those countries to the local music scene in the Twin Cities? 

It’s cool because they’re so different. The scene here is so cool and it’s a very sensory thing when I think about it. We live in this snowy, extreme weather and I think that a lot of the basement indie rock that happens here really stems from our environment. The scene here feels very indie and very folk-y, as opposed to… Well, I don’t think there’s a very vibrant pop scene here, for example, because it doesn’t need to be. I really like the ability to go to 7th Street Entry and see an indie-rock show, it’s the best. In my brain, that’s what that venue is made for. There’s a huge hip-hop community here that I’m not actively a part of but I’m trying to learn more about it and get my hands on it and be present for a lot more of those shows. My friend Papa Mbye is a really big part of it and his stories about the scene itself really makes me want to explore it some more. 

England was so similar in the sense that everyone I went to school with wanted to be in an indie boy-band. They wanted to be Hippo Campus or they wanted to be The 1975, and that’s not a bad thing. That was really the theme, the umbrella thing. It’s such a creative community there, and here. Minnesota has a richer scene than I think most people would ever assume. Leaving Minnesota and telling people about the scene here is always great because everyone always says that they keep hearing things about the music coming out of Minnesota. There’s something going on here and it’s great to be a part of. 

Truth be told, I first heard your song “Boys Who Kiss You in Their Cars” on TikTok and I know you mentioned that you first started making TikToks after getting back to Minnesota. I mean, you have 74,000 followers. Jeez. Would you say that TikTok has helped you expand your music platform? 

TikTok is definitely where my music platform began. I think that it’s a big tool in a huge tool belt that people are really needing to learn how to use now because it truly dominates the music industry right now. It’s crazy and it’s a total beast but for me, I was really lucky that I had a couple things pop off the way that they did. I had a viral moment that really kick-started a lot of things for me career-wise and that app really got me in front of the right people. That’s how I met my team at Awal, who I absolutely adore. There have been so many crazy opportunities that have come from TikTok and the internet and that’s really where I think my music lives right now. When we first started putting out music, my first song was “Bad For Me” from the first EP, and I had never imagined to be sitting here a year later with almost 2 million monthly listeners. But TikTok did that. 

As I listened to Halfway, I couldn’t help but notice how your lyrical style feels like sitting down with a close friend and hashing out their ended relationship. There are so many zingers and almost journal entry-like lines. How do you accomplish that? What does your writing process look like? 

I have the biggest smile on my face, that’s so cool to hear. I wouldn’t necessarily say my intention is to always sound that way, but it’s really just a writing style that I’ve fallen in love with. It’s interesting because all of these songs did come from funny conversations that I had with whoever was in the room while we were writing them. And I wrote these songs with people who are like my best friends who do know every inch of my life and that I’ve spilled all of my tea to. I could name any single song on the new EP and remember that it started with me telling a crazy story and then someone saying that we need to write exactly what I had just said into a song. With that really conversational approach, I like to think that I’m having a conversation with myself. It makes it a little less weird for me. These songs are definitely my version of journal entries, and it’s been an extremely therapeutic release for me. 

How would you describe Halfway to someone who’s never heard it before? How would you convince them to take a listen? 

I think I would tell them that it’s like the secret recipe for a Krabby Patty except for inner dreams or something. It’s really a combo of being introspective, and oversharing, and strong self awareness. If you put those three things into a pop song that has a Lorde-type bridge, but with a Laura Marling-type writing style and a lot of indie guitars, that’s it. That’s been the recipe for this whole EP.   

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