Rising Danish producer, composer, vocalist and DJ Astrid Engberg has one rule: she only works with people she also enjoys as human beings. Celebrating real and honest human connections in which creativity and good vibes flow, and making the creative process a journey of self-knowledge and freedom, one of the fundamental pillars on which she has built her latest project, today she’s releasing her sophomore LP, Trust, on Danish label Creak Inc. From contemporary jazz and nu-jazz to soul, electronic and R&B, her latest work is the follow-up to her debut album, Tulpa. Do you want to know more about her latest collaborations, her creative process and her upcoming shows? Keep reading!
Hi Astrid, how are you and where are you answering us from?
I’m very good, thanks! Writing to you from Copenhagen, Denmark.
You’re now releasing your Trust on Danish label Creak Inc. How are you feeling in such an exciting and special moment?
It does feel like a special moment sharing this music that I’ve been working on for a while with the world. I’m very happy and excited, for sure.
How long have you been working on this project?
The album started unfolding when my daughter was four/five months old. I would sing to her at home and when walking with her in the streets. That’s when a lot of melodies would come to me. It was a very inspiring time for me creatively and an intense period of approximately nine months from beginning to end.
With this new project, you allow us to deepen into your creative universe, in which collaborations with local talent are one of the fundamental pillars. You’ve gone into the studio with respected local and Nordic musicians, sharing your artistic visions and dialoguing through music, haven’t you? Could you tell us more about these alliances?
Collaborating with fellow artists is such an amazing and powerful thing. To be able to share and connect through sound and presence is one of the things I enjoy the most. I have a rule, only work with people I also enjoy as human beings. If you play amazing but you’re an asshole, it’s not for me. Just being real here, I’ve worked with a lot of people and I’ve come to learn that if I grow, the music grows. I believe and hope my fellow artists grow too when we all arrive with open hearts and kindness as a starting point.
We can’t ignore your collaboration with composer, music director, producer, and arranger Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, from Los Angeles. You have joined forces on three tracks after connecting during lockdown. How did you meet and what has this experience meant to you?
I met Miguel when he offered free Zoom classes during or right after the lockdown, I don’t remember exactly. I just remember thinking it was a group thing and then realising when the Zoom started that it was one-on-one. What a generous gift. The collaboration with Miguel is beautiful to me on many levels.
Firstly, for his musical contribution to the album, his ear on everything and his playing that is simply beautiful. Secondly, it’s been a joy to collaborate with him as he’s an artist whom I respect for his work and contribution to the world through his art. I feel he’s at the centre of bringing classical music and hip-hop together in a completely fresh way since he arranged and conducted Suite for Ma Dukes back in 2009.
In this just-released album, you pay tribute to intuition and new motherhood. Has the creative process been very different from your first album, Tulpa?
The process of Trust has felt very fluid and free. It’s been a joy to create this album. Honestly, it’s been very smooth (most of the time, let’s be real!). Very early I felt that I had to trust my intuition and let the music unfold more than try to control the music. Does this make sense? Of course, there are many decisions to be made, but with this album, I had a feeling that a lot of music in me just wanted out. That I was kind of just conducting the show somehow. It’s a lovely feeling. So Trust is a continuation of the way I worked on Tulpa, but I feel I’d reached a new level of freedom, maybe because I had just gone through giving birth.
Have you always followed your intuition, or is it something you have learned over the years?
Yes and no. I see in hindsight that I’ve always had a very strong intuition, a very strong voice within. But when I was younger, I would question it a lot. And when I did it, it mostly got me in a lot of trouble. So what I’ve learned over the years is not to question it, but to trust it.
Would you say that this LP has allowed you to get to know yourself better?
I think every song or piece of music I write allows me to know myself a little better. Music is my language. Lyrics are the clearest way of unveiling my emotions to myself. I don’t think in the same way when I write lyrics, sing and record. It’s very intuitive. And after, when I read it, I will start to understand what’s really happening in me.
Loving Contemplation, for example, is about carrying a baby in your body, giving birth, the crazy bodily changes you go through, the feelings, the joy, the fear –all of it. It was freeing to get it down on paper, read it and be like, yes, I feel all of this. It’s all in me.
Music is not only a powerful weapon for self-expression with which to share vital experiences or feelings, but also it heals. Music-making came to your aid when you were recovering from a serious bike accident and resulting brain injury over a decade ago in your early 20s, right? At what other times has music become a very important ally in your life?
Yes, that’s true. But music has always been my sanctuary. There is nothing in the world that has an impact on me on the same level as music. There will be moments in my life, as for anyone, where I go through something difficult. And when I’m in it deep, often words don’t help. Listening can reach and open up a deep space in me. I can be so grateful to a fellow artist for writing a piece of music that touches me. Or for playing in a way or from a place that I deeply feel. I think that’s often what we need as humans –to feel together and be embraced in our feelings. In life and in music.
“The process of this album was beautiful and fluid (most of the time, let’s be real),” you shared with your followers on social media a few days ago. What has been the most difficult moment throughout the development of this album?
Health, headaches and the last 10% of getting the album ready. But on the real: for anyone out there reading this who’s dealing with pain on a daily basis, I see you, I salute you. You got this. Never give up
The eleven tracks included in Trust have been written, composed and produced by you. What part of the creative process do you enjoy the most and why?
I really enjoy it all. I love the process where everything is fluid and moving, melodies are floating around, and suddenly a song arrives in my head or a lyric – the beginning. But I also love being in the studio alone recording or having sessions with amazing musicians. It’s always inspiring and so much fun too.
Then there’s the final process alone of cutting files up, rearranging, deleting, etc., which is great too because then I have all these great files, and at this point, I hear the final tracks in my head, and it’s fun to execute this. So I have to say I love them equally.
What message would you like to send to the world?
Be water, give thanks to your own self, be real. Love yourself and others. Be kind.
Is there anything you can tell us about your upcoming projects? Will we see you perform soon on stage?
For future projects, I’ll keep them with me for now (smiles). But I’m very happy to share that I’m playing at by:larm in Oslo in a few weeks, then going on tour with my amazing band this fall in Denmark, final destination Vega, Copenhagen with a small detour to Cairo, Egypt. Please come say hi if you’re around!
0 Astrid Engberg Presse by Mira Campau.jpg