So, what’s cooking Agnes Obel?

Singer discusses the inspirations behind her new album, ‘Aventine’, ahead of her European tour

Danish pianist and singer Agnes Obel stormed to European popularity three years ago with her debut album, ‘Philharmonics’, a coup de maître that went platinum in Belgium, France and Denmark. 

Her follow-up album, ‘Aventine’, which came out last week on Monday, was therefore keenly anticipated, and The Copenhagen Post caught up with her ahead of the start of her European tour to find out more. 

Your second album, ‘Aventine’, is just about to drop. How is it different to ‘Philharmonics’?
‘Aventine’ was made over a more concentrated period (one and a half years). I’m trying to look into new states of mind that I’ve experienced and been curious about. The cello is a major driving force in some of the songs – I’m using it in new ways and so on.  

What process goes into making your music?
When I started working on my own music I didn't have the chance to record in a big music studio so I had to record everything myself.  I figured out that recording and writing songs at the same time works really well for me.  A different mood shines through the song and the performance of it also changes.  I feel that this way of working also allows me to get closer to the nerve of the song.

You grew up surrounded by musical instruments as a child.  How did the piano become your instrument of choice?
That's a good question. I don't know how I was stupid enough not to learn to play all the other instruments (laughs). We had a vibraphone and a double bass – why didn't I learn to play them as well as I play the piano? There was something about the beauty and resonance of the piano that spoke to my imagination I guess. My brother was into drums and guitars and I was very much into the piano.

What inspires you? 
For the new album, I’m particularly inspired by Roy Orbison and the reinvention his songs have gained through David Lynch movies where one sees this dark undercurrent developing in them. I love the conversation between film and music.

You moved to Berlin a few years ago. What is it that you like about living there?
I really like Berlin! When I went there, it felt like a big city and a village all at the same time. I didn’t really understand the place to begin with, but I was very curious and I came home and told everyone that I’d be moving there. It was a leap into the darkness to see if it would work out, which it did, and I’m very happy living there now.

What is it like to play in Denmark and Scandinavia in general?
I’ve heard from other artists that people are a little bit more reserved in Northern Europe, which comes across at concerts, where the audience may be quieter. So this means less hecklers, but maybe it also means that people may not be as open about how they felt. I’m not so sure this is especially true of Denmark, but it’s what I’ve heard.

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