Thomas Dybahl Songs
Thomas Dybdahl is a multi award winning artist and one of the most talented singer-songwriters to emerge from the Norwegian music scene in recent years. He is now preparing to unleash his irresistibly serene and intimate sound on the rest of the world. 'Songs' is a collection of his previous 4 albums all remixed and remastered by Larry Klein and is a perfect introduction to the world of the intimate musical musings of Thomas Dybdahl.
As is often the case with distinctive endeavours, the creative path of Thomas Dybdahl - the 32-year-old guitarist, singer, songwriter, and native of Sandnes, Norway - has been, for nearly a decade, all his own.
"I've taken an eclectic approach," Dybdahl says. "I've sought to draw influences from the whole spectrum of music - not only from songwriters and singers but also from contemporary and classical music. I am always trying to infuse my work with all these different influences so that I don't limit myself, or listeners, to the notion of being just another guy with a guitar."
As he knows well, several of those strum around, and Dybdahl in one sense is yet another. But on 'Songs' - his U.S. debut, released via Decca Records/Universal on Strange Cargo, an imprint overseen by the renowned musician and producer Larry Klein, whose past close musical associations include Joni Mitchell, Tracey Chapman, Madeleine Peyroux, and others -- Dybdahl distinguishes himself with fire and finesse. The tracks serve as a great introduction for American listeners to the five albums (2002's '...that great October sound'; 2003's 'Stray Dogs'; 2004's 'One Day You'll Dance for Me, New York City'; 2006's "Science'; and 2010's 'Waiting for that One Clear Moment') for which Dybdahl has received steady acclaim internationally and won two Norwegian Grammys.
These are the romantic, introspective, out-going, hum-worthy, adventurous tunes of a guy who once, with characteristic honesty, cited the Mozart Requiem as his favourite piece of music but who laughs off any art-rock ideas of literally trying to reinvent the pop song from a classical music vantage point. For Dybdahl, who grew up playing guitar for hours daily and loved first Metallica and later Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, it's all music.
A flexible, carefully detailed melodicism animates Dybdahl songs like "Cecilia" and "B.A. Part," while other songs, such as "From Grace" and "The Great October Sound," move that same well-founded sense of melody composition into comparatively more ecstatic and less kinetic states. Dybdahl, whose lustrous tenor behaves with an idiomatic ease, does not believe that only anger is an energy: "I try to find that force," he says, "that comes from always keeping my calm, from actually holding back. I try to get something out of this implosion -- the opposite of a good rock and roll explosion."
Dybdahl hails from the land of pop. "I love pop composition," he says. "What I don't like is when pop gets used in a reductive manner. Some of the best pop artists and pop records I know come from all kinds of backgrounds and music yet they have firm grips on and understand the pop format. Even though a song may be a pop song and even though it may go on the radio, it can still offer something for the ages; it can happen with the most pop of pop songs. This means something beyond defining the time or trend; it's accomplished in fusion with history and duration."
Dbydahl cites an array of inspirations; albums such as Tim Buckley's 'Happy Sad' (1969), Colin Blunstone's 'One Year' (1971), and Serge Gainsbourg's 'Histoire de Melody Nelson' (1971), he believes, stand as examples of music that sacrifices nothing. Dybdahl's varied sources has meant that his own music can attract equally diverse admirers, from electronica pioneers Morcheeba, who asked him to sing on one of their albums, to designer Philippe Starck, who cites Dybdahl's music as an inspiration, to photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who shot the cover for 'Science', a Starck design.
According to Dybdahl, a chief reason his music turns out as it does is because of his experience with his initial instrument. "I see myself first and foremost as a guitarist," he says. "That's where my musicality started. There's just no getting away from how if one is a guitarist then one thinks musically as a guitarist. As you evolve, you may go on, as I did, to singing as well, however you have started as a guitarist. You're still approaching music through the guitar, and that has to carry some weight. It makes for some interesting choices along the way, melodically and structurally, because whatever you approach -- singing, other instruments, songwriting -- the work continues to come from the mind of a guitarist. That is controlling."
A galloping range of influences like Dybdahl's requires something to pull everything into persuasive wholes. "As a person," he says, "I'm very focused on balance; everything has to be balanced. It's all about balance and composition. You might even call it symmetry, even though a good composition doesn't necessarily need to seem symmetric. As you grow older, though, you see that the need to balance all these things infuses all your choices, and how you want to do things."
'Songs' is an often mesmerizing demonstration of how Thomas Dybdahl does things. It is the sound of how one gifted Norwegian connects with a million other sounds, impulses, colours, and emotions, all assembled with particular sonic poise that always grooves, never overwhelms. Tracklisting
1. From Grace
2. A Love Story
4. All's Not Lost
5. That Great October Sound
6. Don't Lose Yourself
7. Pale Green Eyes
8. Be A Part
9. One Day You'll Dance For Me, New York City
11. It's Always Been You
12. Something Real
13. Rain Down On Me
Interview with Thomas DybahlQuestion:
How would you describe Songs? Thomas Dybahl
: It's a compilation album, essentially, an introduction to me as an artist, singer and songwriter. There are songs on there from all my five previous albums and I've tried very hard to make it feel as chronological and natural as possible. Question:
Do you have a favourite track on Songs? Thomas Dybahl
: My favourite tracks always tend to be the newest ones so "Songs" is my current one. The one that I have heard the least amount of times and haven't gotten sick of yet. Other than that I think "From Grace" would be the most special to me. It did a lot to start my career in Norway.Question:
Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration? Thomas Dybahl
: I write most of my song, but sometimes it's nice to have a sparring partner and to get another view on things. Some new ideas and solutions to songs that you wouldn't have thought of yourself. There are a couple of songs on the album that I have co-written with other people.Question:
What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own? Thomas Dybahl
: It's all kind of music really. I still haven't tired of the latest Kanye West album and I'm just getting into the latest Gillian Welch one too. I love a lot of different things. French orchestral funk-pop from the 60's, classical music, contemporary composers, movie scores, classics, Dylan, Young, Drake etc.. The list goes on!Question:
What's next? Tour/Album/Single? Thomas Dybahl
: Hopefully I'll be going back on the road in the US in December; we are releasing a new single called B A Part there and pushing forward. I'll be starting a new record before Christmas, but that might take ages. I never know.Question:
Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel? Thomas Dybahl
: No, not really. There have been rough moments for sure, but I think it's too much a part of my fabric now. It's my life and I feel like I'm getting better at it still.Question:
Do you prefer performing live or recording? Thomas Dybahl
: Love them both, studio work is more quaint and craftsmanship-like and playing live is all about being in the moment. In a way they are very unlike each other. Question:
What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry? Thomas Dybahl
: I was a huge Prince fan when I was young (still am) and I think I watched the concert video from the Lovesexy tour about 200 times.Question:
What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success? Thomas Dybahl
: Just constantly getting new input, ideas and staying sharp regarding what I want to achieve when I am recording new songs and materialQuestion:
What's a typical day like? Thomas Dybahl
: Depends if I'm on the road or not. I have about four different periods in a year. One where I am recording and writing, at that time I am working in the studio as much as I can and often all night. Another one is releasing a record, this usually involves running around everywhere trying to tell people why they should buy my record. It's almost like being a sales man and I'm awful at it. Then there is touring, this means getting on a bus and going into a vegetable like state of mind. Wake up in new city, do an interview, set up on stage and do soundcheck, eat, do show, drink some beer and pass out. Last, there is free time. This usually involves me lying on the couch, watching Simpsons or a shark program on Discovery and not much else…Question:
What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist? Thomas Dybahl
: I get to travel a lot, meet new people, see new places, experience new things all the time. I love itQuestion:
If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be? Thomas Dybahl
: Gillian Welch.Question:
Do you have a website fans can visit? Thomas Dybahl
Can you tell us 5 things required for a happy healthy & enjoyable life? Thomas Dybahl
: No, I think you need a little bit of everything and a lot of a few things. Variation is the key for me to feel happy!
Interview by Brooke HunterBuy now at BigPond Music