Friday, July 20, 2007
Thomas Dybdahl - Interview and In Studio Wrap Up
July 20, 2007
Thomas Dybdahl has been a bright star rising quickly to international fame through Norway's burgeoning music scene, though his mark has yet to be made on America's fickle musical foreground. Easily comparable to valuable Norwegian imports such as Sondre Lerche, American fans of soulful folk might more easily think of Damien Rice when they hear the subdued power of Dybdahl's sound.
Flying in from Norway for a very short engagement in the U.S., armed only with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica (a far cry from his full and swinging band), WERS was Dybdahl's first stop before a show at The Paradise and then Living Room in NYC where he had previously played with Sondre Lerche on their successful tour together. Though he spends most of his time at home, Dybdahl says he comes to New York specifically to write music. "I just like the vibe there," he says, "there's so much happening." Thomas actually named one of his albums One Day You'll Dance For Me, New York City, but when asked if this title indicated his intentions for this visit, he opted for a less goal-oriented approach. "I'm not out there to conquer the states, I just want to show people my music," admitting that it's the journey and not the destination, the only goal being to "just have fun on the way there."
Inspiration for his acclaimed album Science doesn't come souly (bad pun intended) from New York, as he explained about his song "U," an homage to soul greats D'Angelo, Prince and Al Green. And a worthy homage it is. Thomas has an innocent sensuality to his voice, taking long breaths while wandering through a few repeated phrases of gratitude to the trifecta of modern soul.
I had the unique opportunity as someone in the studio with free hands and a pair of house keys to play accompaniment on his fantastic song "Cecilia," instructed by a carefree Dybdahl only to go with the pace and experiment when needed. Maybe I, as a writer, just can't keep the beat, or house key percussion worked better in theory than it did live, but unfortunately my Norwegian music career was short-lived when Thomas burst out laughing and had to start over.
The set ended with a lovely piece for which he admitted ripping off music from Mozart's Requiem. In "Still My Body Aches," Dybdahl's voice echoed the title, sending out small explosions, and weaving in and out of high and low notes.
Though Thomas Dybdahl has yet to be given the credit he deserves in America for his award-winning sound, coming to the States from the height of popularity in Norway is just another learning experience for him. "It's like starting from scratch, almost. It's a nice feeling to be able to play to people without them having any...preconception about you."
For the article on WERS.org and pictures of the studio session, go here