Experimental songstress set to collaborate with students

Published 27 March 2012

Inga Liljestrom
Experimental indie singer songwriter Inga Liljestrom is returning to Southern Cross University for an artist in residency where she will direct students in a collaborative multi media performance.

Inga’s three week residency begins on Thursday March 29 with an APRA Songwriters Workshop in Studio ONE29 at the University’s Lismore campus where she will share her experiences as a songwriter and working in the music industry.

After that Inga will remain on campus to collaborate and develop with music, film and arts students a project called ‘undone’, culminating in a public performance on April 20 at 6.30pm in Studio ONE29.

“I decided the title ‘undone’ could encapsulate a broad spectrum of subjects, but with the common thread of coming into the project with something not quite complete, be it a composition, a poem or some film footage,” Inga said.

“I am hoping we can then work on these pieces together to create a work of beauty, but perhaps still with some frayed edges. We'll see.”

Inga collaborated with Finnish university students a few years ago while she was exploring her family’s musical roots in the Nordic country.

“I didn't intend on creating a work with the students, it happened organically. I was meant to do a residency focusing on writing new compositions but what evolved was something quite magical. The students created costumes, film footage, movement and dance, and live oil paintings on slides. Students who had never composed before wrote beautiful pieces of music to animations they had created. It was a very intense and extremely creative time for all of us,” she said.

“It’s wonderful to welcome Inga back to SCU,” said Leigh Carriage, lecturer in the Contemporary Music degree and coordinator of the APRA Songwriters Workshops. "We want to foster among our students the idea of always staying connected, particularly once they graduate."

“Inga is a great exemplar of what collaboration is about.”

Inga Liljestrom graduated from Southern Cross University in 1992 with an Honours degree in Contemporary Music where she focused on jazz vocals.

Since then, the former Bellingen resident has established herself as a leading talent in the field of experimental contemporary music and is now based in Paris.

Inga’s first commercially released album, Elk, received critical acclaim and featured her distinctive mesmerising vocals and skills of composing and arranging. Her other albums include Quiet Music for Quiet People, Black Crow Jane, and her soon-to-be-released Songs of Sorrow (for the hollow of his heart).

“To be honest I had no idea what I would do with my degree or music. At uni I was very focused on jazz singing, so really I am kind of surprised where the road has led me and is still taking me. It has been a very interesting journey so far,” said Inga.

“I have had no formal study of composition, I don't abide by any rules, but rather I work intuitively, with chord progressions and styles of music that appeal to me.”

Inga uses her exceptional musical diversity and vocal dexterity to create a unique performance within the pop, country, rock and jazz genres. Items such as toy pianos, telephones and percussive objects are transformed into musical instruments and interwoven with the more traditional instruments of her supporting musicians to create a unique soundscape and performance experience.

“I take what I like from influences and put it into a mixing bowl, trying to conjure something of my own.”

Among her musical idols are jazz singers Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, folk singers Melanie Safka and Nick Drake, rock singer Patti Smith, electronic artist Bjork, experimental singers and composers Meredith Monk and Laurie Anderson, plus Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush and Tom Waits.

Inga has composed music for film and animation. She has been awarded five grants from the Australia Council; has remixed Gotye; sung with The Church, d.i.g. and Lior; and was guest vocalist on Gerling's 'Dust Me Selecta'.

For more about Inga Liljestrom, go to her website ingaliljestromusic.com/
Event: APRA Songwriters Workshop with Inja Liljestrom is Thursday, March 29 at noon-1.50pm in Studio ONE29, D Block Theatre, SCU Lismore campus, Military Road, East Lismore. Event: ‘undone’, a multi media collaboration by Inga Liljestrom and SCU's music, film and arts students, is Friday, April 20 at 6.30pm in Studio ONE29, D Block theatre, SCU Lismore campus, Military Road, East Lismore.

Media contact: Sharlene King media officer, Southern Cross University Lismore, 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349.