The Short (and slightly serious!) Biography-
Inga is a vocalist/ composer from Australia who has lived in France and now in the UK. She studied music at University, and received a BA (performing arts majoring in voice) from SCU in NSW Australia. She also completed an Honours year. She is a self taught vocalist, guitarist and programmer, and records and arranges her own music. She has released 4 albums commercially, many of which were supported through grants with the Australia Council for the Arts – Elk (2005 – orchestrated strings and beats with voice); Quiet Music for Quiet People (2007 – improvised sound scape album with voice), Black Crow Jane (2011 – folk/ rock recorded in France with French musicians), Two Dangers (2014 – folk), and We Have Tigers (released commercially 2017 – orchestrated and filmic). She has also worked with film makers to make clips, resulting in the DVD ‘Ra Djur’. Inga has always been inspired by visuals and film, and her music has been described as aural landscapes. Each of her album’s explores new terrain, from cinematic nordic landscapes to dry arid desert. She has sung with many acts in Australia included The Church, d.i.g., amongst others, and has remixed Gotye for his album Mixed Blood and also was guest vocalist on recordings by Carmen Rizzo, Gerling and more. She has created tracks for nature films with award winning cinematographers Galaxiid, including Wild Antarctica which won the Music and Nature award at the 2017 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in NYC. Her voice and music have been on film and television including Bloodbrothers (ABC), Rake (ABC), Kettering Incident (BBC), feature films Nerve (2013), Skin Deep (2014) and TV promo for Dracula series 1 and 2 (Sky TV). She has also sung in physical theatre production ‘Paradise City’ touring South America. She has had many record deals, and is currently signed to Accord Croises in France. Inga’s interests also lie in the healing properties of sound, and is a certified sound therapist, and has a private practice as well as teaching with the Sound Healing Academy based in Cornwall. She has recently started a PhD in music, and is exploring and working on new compositions.
The long Biography-
I’m a vocalist/ composer, originally from Australia, and I now reside in the UK, my mother’s ancestral home. My father is Scandinavian, from the Swedish part of Finland, which explains my name and also my love of Northern things, my obsession with snow and cold, elks, northern lights, Sami people and yoik singing…
I’ve always been inspired by visuals and film, and my music has been described as aural landscapes. My style is quite diverse, with each album exploring new terrain, from cinematic nordic landscapes to dry arid desert.
I was brought up in a very alternative environment, and my formative years were spent creating, swimming and being a wild child in ‘The Promised Land,’ Bellingen, N.S.W. Australia. Our home was surrounded by rivers, mountains, huge Moreton Bay fig trees, early morning mists, horses, dogs – nature at it’s best and wildest. Music was always playing in our house – Rolling Stones, Melanie Safka, Nick Drake, John Martyn, Maddy Prior from Steeleye Span, Blondie…
I started writing poetry when I was a kid, and would write every day, leaving little pieces of paper scattered around the house. I was schooled at first with two other children who lived close by. It was a very creative way to start learning, and rules were not important. It was difficult for us to adjust in public schools, but still, it really gave us a good foundation in doing things our own way when it came to anything creative.
I was given a classical guitar when I was 10 years old, and I would spend my lunchtimes at school in the playground alone, teaching myself guitar. I wrote my first song when I was around 12 and won a competition, but was horribly nervous when I had to play it in front of an audience.
The first concert I went to was Melanie Safka when I was around 7 years old. I was totally in love with Melanie and her songs, and would like on the lounge listening to her tunes on the record player, and be covered in goose bumps – her voice! The concert was all very exciting, I remember her on stage, the red velvet curtains parting, her dark hair, smile and long skirt, the screaming of the audience…and then I fell asleep, overcome by excitement. Melanie had lunch with a girlfriend of mine recently, and I did a cover of her song ‘Some Say I Got Devil’ which my friend played to her…full circle!
My family joined a religious community when I was around 11 years old, still very alternative- hippies living together in the country playing music, dancing… I was asked to sing with the band, and my mum was the leader of the tambourine players. This was my foundations for vocal improvisation – ‘speaking in tongues’.
As a teenager, I started a rock band with my friends and played bass. I had no idea how to play but would just learn my parts. Then I started playing jazz double bass, still not really knowing what I was playing or doing, but performed with some great jazz players. One time I felt like I channelled, as everyone was doing a solo, and mine was coming up, I began to sweat as I had no idea what I’d do, when all of the sudden my fingers started flying around the neck of the bass in double time doing all sorts of things I had no idea how to do!
I went to University to study music and studied jazz singers – Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson…I had a duo with the guitar lecturer Jim Kelly, and learnt and loved all the jazz standards. I graduated from Southern Cross University in Australia with a BA and Honours in Performing Arts, specialising in vocals.
After University, I collaborated with a film composer and formed a group called ‘Helgrind’, full of angst and beauty, described as Led Zeppelin meets Tori Amos. We wore 50s bathing costumes with biker boots, old platinum blonde wigs and the men in old nylon 50s nighties. We were very experimental, and broke rules. I remember one record executive yelling at us over the phone ‘you make me feel like I don’t understand music’. For us at the time it was a compliment.
After this, I began experimenting with programmed music, loving the sound of string instruments and beats, and weird synth sounds. I received a government grant to record my first solo CD called ‘Urchin’.
I sang with many groups around this time starting off with Australian trip hop/ jazz legends d.i.g (directions in groove) with their album ‘Curveystrasse’; then with Gerling, singing the hit single ‘Dust Me Selecta’; and with Australian iconic group The Church for their acoustic album. I also recorded a remix for Gotye’s Aria winning album ‘Mixed Blood’ and was featured Carmen Rizzo’s album.
I received another grant, and spent two years locked away in my room in the suburbs of Sydney…a strangely cold room that felt like eternal winter, and wrote my first commercially released album, Elk. It was all about the Northern landscapes, fjords, and magical isolated places, endeavouring to create these landscapes with the music, and then weave stories and characters with words and melodies. Groovescooter records released my music in Australia, a wonderful label run by two beautiful souls.
I formed my band with Cameron Undy, (double bass) ; Veronique Serret, (a brilliant violinist who plays with the ACO, Joanna Newsome) ; Haydn Walker (guitarist and string arranger); and Evan Mannell (drums). My own shows have been known to include dancers, aerialists, circus performers, flamenco dancers, live VJ, projections, costumes, and many theatrical elements. We performed at the Opera House, sell out shows at the Vanguard and 505 in our hometown of Sydney, and festivals around Australia and New Caledonia.
Various Australian film makers wanted to make clips to the Elk album, resulting in the DVD called ‘Ra Djur’, a collection of eleven clips by film makers Andrew Wholley, Tanya Andrea Stadellman, Jacob Simkin, David Davidson and Paul Andrew, Daniel Kojta, Matthew, Matthew Chuang. I received another grant for this, and also a remix album called ‘Sprawling Fauns’, featuring remixes by Ben Frost, Pimmon, Saddleback (Tony Dupe) and Brokn (Jacob Cook).
‘Urban street-style meets dance, a skater, a break-dancer, a BMX rider, an acrobat, a dancer and a singer converge at a meeting in a stark urban space’ describes the physical theatre/ dance show I was in called ‘Paradise City’, directed by the Helpmann award winning group, Branch Nebula. I played the fallen diva, singing the inner thoughts of the performers. We toured Brazil, South America and regional Australia for a few months, and had a season at the Opera House. I worked on the music with Bob Scott, with a wonderful (and slightly nerve wracking) finale of improvised cascading vocal loops for the final scene.
Another project ‘Quiet Music for Quiet People’ was recorded over two nights in a Sydney studio by engineer, Andy Hills. The music was completely improvised, featuring double bass, pedal steel guitar, drums, sound scapes, cello and me flicking though some old diaries finding words to sing. I described a scene to the musicians of a desert scape at night, romance, heat, a scene from a David Lynch film of a girl dancing on the bonnet of an old car under the stars…we’d then turn the lights out and try to recreate these images.
There was some interest in my music from a French label, and travelled to Paris a few times, and eventually formed a band. We performed in Poland, Czech Republique and France. We recorded an album together called ‘Black Crow Jane’, tracking the songs live in a house in Normandie over a few days. The crackling fire, wintery skeleton like trees, the conversations I could barely understand with my limited French, me being the designated cook and failing repeatedly…but thankfully we made good music. The musicians were Guillaume Magne (guitar), Sebestian Brun (drums and sound scapes), Theo Girard (double bass), Jean-Philippe Feiss (cello), all captured on tape and then mixed by Olivier Gascoin.
In 2014 I released an album called ‘Two Dangers’, recorded in the Blue Mountains, Australia and also in France. I had been writing songs on the back steps of my sisters house, serenading the currawong birds in the Blue Mountains. The recording of the album was very relaxed, where we’d set up in friends houses – lounge rooms, kitchens, and invite musicians to jam on the songs. Engineer John Kelly would capture these sessions with his portable recording set up. I was lucky enough to play with magical musicians Rens van der Zalm (guitar, mandolin, tenor guitar, accordion); Len Marks (slide and guitars) and Michael Bridges (violin and saw). In France I recorded some more songs for this album with wonderful musicians and engineers- Olivier Gascoin and Jonathan Reig, also recording in lounge rooms and an old school. Many sounds of birds, bees, truck and trains were caught on the recording.
My most recent album release is called ‘We Have Tigers’, a collaboration with award winning film composer, Michael Lira. We raised money through a campaign to put the album out ourselves, and then the great music label ‘Accord Croises’ signed me and have put the album out (2017). The album was recorded in our homes studios, with Michael in Australia, and me in France. Michael mixed the album and I made all the artwork. It features both traditional songs, plus some originals, and Michael arranged and played a vast array instruments, inspired by old Appalachian folk music and the arranging of Ennio Morricone.
My music has been used for film and TV, including Bloodbrothers, (ABC), Rake (ABC), Kettering Incident (BBC), feature films Nerve (2013), Skin Deep (2014) and TV promo for Dracula series 1 and 2 (Sky TV). I composed music for Wild Antarctic, by New Zealand cinematographers Aliscia Young and Richard Sidey. The film won best nature film and music documentary in NY in 2017. I also composed music for the film Wild Atlantic.
I have composed for art installations, including Light Origami, a ‘3D telescopic’ Origami dome which exhibited in light festivals in Sydney (Vivid), Arizona (Scottsdale Canal Convergence) and Singapore (i Light Marina Bay). The dome was created by Kaz Shirane and produced by Reuben Young.
I’ve performed with bands, duos and recently solo.
In the last few years I’ve also worked with students in Universities (in Finland and Australia) , directing and running tutorials, culminating in multi-media performances of original music, film, art, and dance.
I’ve also studied sound therapy and healing, and teach with the Academy of Sound Healing based in Cornwall, UK. I’ve worked as a sound therapist with children, people with dementia, atypical hearing, and in corporate workplaces. I have performed at experimental festivals in the UK using voice, drums, gong, Tibetan and Crystal bowls.
Most recently I’ve started working on a PhD in music, and I’m also composing new works!
Wow loved reading this Inga! You have done so much living! I too love Melanie Safka and had the privilege of a private meeting with her after her concert at Sydney Town Hall. Gosh I was in awe! She was my heroine! You do remind me of her Inga. Keep up the great life! xxxxxx
hey Cubby! thanks darlin! gotta update it soon- a few more things have happened. Love Melanie Safka- my favourite! (apart from Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, John Martyn….the list goes on!) xx