Avant garde folk artist Agnes Obel brings spirited vocals and a wonderful piano for her second appearance in San Francisco, performing as a classical trio at The Independent on March 13.
Her sophomore album, Aventine, serves as an impressive and introspective follow up to her acclaimed 2010 debut record Philharmonics. The singer-songwriter, who currently resides in Berlin, will entertain a sold out crowd accompanied by German cellist Anne Müller and Mika Posen of Canadian folk project Timber Timbre on viola.
Your mother was a musician. What would you say is the most valuable lesson she taught you about pursuing a music career?
Well, actually it was my father who was a musician. My mom, she played piano and can be considered a musician but truthfully she wasn’t. She started on piano but later chose later on to work for something else. My father spent 10 years of his life in an orchestra, playing music. I learned a wonderful approach to playing music is to be really grateful. And if something is important, and you have that need to do it, then you should really listen to that need or else you’ll be very unhappy.
What accomplishment from the past year has been the most rewarding for you?
I haven’t really done anything but music the past year. I don’t know. I’ve done some great traveling in music, releasing music and seeing it grow by itself and continue to grow like you would never expect.
Has your boyfriend Alex Brüel Flagstad, who is a photographer and an animator, been able to help your career and influence your style?
I’ve been really lucky to have him around. He is very devoted with my music and into what I’m doing, so I never really have to explain anything. He always has a visual idea and he’s there when I make it and record it. It’s like having a very wonderful visual perspective over time. I feel really lucky. I know a lot of people would love to have that for their music. I don’t even really have to ask. He will always help.
What do trio partners Anne Müller and Mika Posen each bring to your live performance?
They are both really amazing musicians. I think what I like is they both have this classical sensibility and training. At the same time, they are very open and into improvisation and using stage effects and all sorts of things that make it possible for us to build out larger arrangements. The sound gets way bigger. They have this extra knack to improvise.
Has living in Berlin and the diverse local music scene influenced your style at all?
I don’t feel like I’m part of the music scene there, but I guess indirectly I have sort have been pulled or inspired by the atmosphere of the city. It’s very open-spirited in Berlin. You have the feeling you can do anything that you choose. It’s also very much sort of DIY, That’s been inspiring for me to do things myself and record things myself and work almost like an electronic musician would do anything by himself.
Have you ever visited San Francisco?
I’ve been there once. Almost three years ago [at the Rickshaw Stop]. I loved it, but I was only there for one day.
Do you have advice for young pianists about pursuing a professional music career?
I think I would say just do whatever you want. That’s very important. It’s important do to music because if you feel like this is important, you want to make the music that you want to make. I think it’s important to sort of find a quiet spot away from all the noise and tune into that somehow.
What can fans expect at your live show?
Well, I would like people to come without expectations and then I hope they will leave with the feeling they experienced something, as well. Of course something else other than you’re watching three people, but you never know. That’s the thing about the shows. Performances are a thing in the moment so you never know.