The term “multi-instrumentalist” doesn’t really begin to describe the unconventional, über-talented Swedish singer/songwriter Christine Owman accurately. Owman is a one-woman show-stopper who takes on not merely a few, but almost twelve, instruments on her most recent album, Throwing Knives. Aside from being adept at instruments ranging from the ukelele and musical saw all the way to the cello, guitar and piano, her voice is one that captivates. She constantly surprises the listener, creating purring pop one moment and slipping into an experimental, sparse song with provocative undertones the next.
Owman’s next release happens to be her second duo with velvety crooner Mark Lanegan, of Screaming Trees. Haunting song “Familiar Act” is a sneak peak of what’s in store from their forthcoming vinyl EP (out soon), as well as Owman’s next album.
What year did you start performing?
I started performing as a cellist at the age of 5. When I was in junior high school I performed for the first time as a band. As a solo artist I’ve been performing since about 2002.
How did you happen to bring movie projections and all your other instrumentation into the mix live?
I’d been inspired by visual art and movies for a long time so I started to make videos for all of my songs. I wanted to bring another perspective into my performance and when I got to borrow a movie projector a few years ago I got the chance to try out my idea of using the videos live.
What is your favorite venue/city to play?
It’s hard to pick one because there are so many things that matter – the atmosphere, the sound, the audience, the response, the people working there or the other bands. But one of my favorite gigs was definitely at Sled Island in Calgary, Canada 2010. I played at Arrata Opera Centre, an amazing venue, and sold out all of my merch on that evening. Another favorite was in Cagliari Sardinia in Italy this summer of 2011. The venue was a beautiful old theater with no roof at Karel Music Expo. But I also enjoy the smaller places, for example obscure Berlin venues like Antje Öklesund or Cirkus 25/Bar 25, the latter one which unfortunately got torn down.
What was the strangest/most interesting thing to happen to you as a performer?
I’m not sure, I think strange things happening all the time and that makes it less and less strange. One never stops getting surprised, ironically that’s what makes you less surprised each time I guess..
If you could meet any musical hero living or dead, who would it be and what would you say to this person?
I’d like to meet Tom Waits and I’d like to ask him to be my mentor..
Have you met any musical heroes and were they not what you expected?
I had the privilege to open for Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin some years ago. I’d grown up listening to Led Zeppelin and it was an honor to open for him and to meet him in person. He came into my dressing room after my show and told me he liked my performance. He was sophisticated and down to earth. I’d like to chat with him again some day.
If you perform with other musicians when you play live, what do you simply hate about being in a band?
The worse thing I know is when the sound engineer doesn’t know what he/she is doing. I’ve never understood how a person can have a job without the qualifications for it.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on my forthcoming album. I’ll release the first two songs as a vinyl EP. Both of the songs have guest vocals from Mark Lanegan (of Screaming Trees, etc.).
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