Owen Beverly has seen a lot in the past year. Traveling the world on tour with Oh Land, he traversed 30 countries with the Dane which begs the question — do all those stamps fit onto one passport?
While on the road, Beverly took time to write and record some songs on a beautiful island in Denmark. The result is the LP named after that island, Amager, out today (October 28th). Despite Beverly’s travels and recording locale, the Mississippi-raised singer found himself returning to his roots: the blues and country of his Southern upbringing, with a little bit of ‘euro psychedelia’ thrown in the mix.
In light of Amager’s release, Sound Dessert is excited to bring you the premier of Owen Beverly’s “Avalanche” video plus an interview where we discuss touring with Oh Land, attempting to pronounce Danish words and sweet talking your way into business class on flights.
Sound Dessert: How’d you get connected with Oh Land? What was it like being on tour with her?
Owen Beverly: I met Oh Land in New York in 2009, Sony asked me to come in and write some songs with her. We instantly had a creative chemistry and wrote “Wolf And I” which ended up being a hit on her self-titled album. We stayed in touch and continued to write and play together. Being on tour was amazing, we went to about 30 different countries this past year, I was playing guitar and singing harmonies in her set and opening the show solo.
SD: How much time did you spend in Amager, Denmark where you recorded the album? What made you want to record there?
OB: I was there for four weeks and in that time we managed to record, mix and master all of it. Amager is a burro of Copenhagen, a little island on the coast of the Øresound. Its the bohemian area of the city; sleepy and quaint, or “hyggeligt“, as they would say in Danish.
The producer, Tore Nissen, approached me about doing an album in Denmark at his studio and it just seemed like a really great idea. When I travel abroad I always feel disconnected from the real world, I think wherever you record its important to get to that place mentally, to not be distracted by your everyday routine, your phone and emails etc.
SD: Did you pick up any Danish during the process?
OB: I’m pretty sure “hyggeligt” is the only word I can pronounce correctly.
SD: The album draws from a wide range of sounds including “southern gothic” and “euro psychedelia”, what were some of your biggest inspirations?
OB: Emmylou Harris did an album with Daniel Lanois in the 90’s called Wrecking Ball. That was a huge inspiration for this record. I also had been revisiting a lot of Mississippi blues style finger-picking and open tunings. I grew up playing that type of music and one of my ideas for this project was to adapt those guitar techniques to a more alternative songwriting format.
SD: It’s been six years since your last solo project, what was different this time around?
OB: Well its been six years since my last solo record but I’ve released three full lengths and one EP under side projects, so it hasn’t felt like a dry spell. The band platform has its pros and cons, one thing I missed about being solo was the ability to just buy a plane ticket and go do a record without having to coordinate schedules and pool resources and shed on parts and new song ideas. There’s something really inspiring about going into a studio, having an idea for a song, and hearing it for the first time right then and there.
SD: What’s the status of one of your side projects – the band French Camp?
OB: French Camp underwent a diaspora of sorts, most of the original members have fanned out across the country and I’ve been away touring for about a year, so we are definitely on a hiatus. That being said, I don’t think we’ve played our last show or made our last record.
SD: Which airline had the best snacks/amenities when you were touring internationally?
OB: Virgin Australia is pretty nice, although if you can sweet talk your way into business class it really doesn’t matter which airline you’re on.
SD: Were there any cultural differences that threw you off?
OB: Danish is a very guttural language, they use a lot of sounds that we simply don’t have in English. There’s also silent “D’s” and “L’s” that sound like “The” so the language barrier was there but almost all Europeans speak English. It’s kind of embarrassing, that always throws me off, feeling like a dumb American.
SD: What’s the cycle of emotions on the day of a show?
OB: The day of show can be pretty stressful if its a one-off. When you’re on tour though, by the second week you get into a groove. I’m not sure which one is better, when its too rehearsed sometimes it can feel uninspired, but when you’re nervous and under prepared it’s kind of electric. But day of show is always a good day.
SD: If you could have any one thing right now what would it be?
OB: If I could have one thing right now it would be the box of CD’s that UPS delivered to the wrong address yesterday…. oh the joys of making music!
Owen Beverly’s Amager is out now. Find it on iTunes and digital platforms everywhere.
Photo credit: Clayton Bozard Photography