When singer Hanna Olivegren volunteered last spring at the New Perspectives Festival for creative music in Vasteras, Sweden, she wasn't expecting to fall into an opportunity to begin collaborating with musician Asa Osborne of Zomes, and formerly of Lungfish. Olivegren, who has a background in jazz and improvisational vocals and has studied at numerous music schools in Sweden, improvised some vocal melodies over one of Osborne's instrumental performances during the festival. She told Osborne and the two liked the idea so much that he invited her to perform with him at another place in Sweden, and later at a show in New York City. The rest, as they say, is history.
The two shared their ideas and kept up regular communication via Skype while living on separate continents. And in the fall of last year, Olivegren made the trek to Baltimore to record Zomes' latest release, Time Was. "Most of the things that happen on the album came to us during the recording session," says Olivegren. Time Was is the first Zomes release to be recorded in an actual studio, and also the first time Osborne recorded as Zomes as a duo. Now out on tour in support of the new album, Olivegren hopes to continue her role in the band, adding another dimension to Osborne's drone-y, hypnotic instrumentals with her well-oiled vocals.
Olivegren enjoys contributing to the music, and says both she and Osborne write the songs' lyrics. As for the melodies, Olivegren says she finds them through messing around with improvising, keeping things fresh while embracing the collaborative spirit. Olivegren began singing at the age of 3, and began studying music at the age of 9, and found her knack for improvisation soon thereafter at Sodra Latin High School, before she went on to Skurups Folkhogskola, a music boarding school. "Within the improvised genre, I love exploring sounds through different vocal techniques," she says. It's these techniques that make Zomes and Time Was stand out from the crowd, as the record feels both free and purposeful.
Time Was is currently streaming on Spotify, and we recommend giving it a listen before you check them out tonight at BAR with Puma Simone. The show starts around 9 p.m., and it's free, and also, the pizza, so good.