Who is Ingrid?
Five years ago, singer-songwriter Ingrid Oscarsson took a leap of faith and moved to New York City. She left behind friends, lovers, and a comfortable life to finally pull back the veil and be who she was meant to be.
Now she announces her emancipation, with the aptly titled EP, Break Free. It’s a masterful debut. With singular artistry, the record fluidly weaves indie rock, intimate folk, bluesy pop, sensual roots music, sparkles of glam rock and smoldering balladry..
“My story is about shedding layers to finally be my authentic self. Sometimes you need to leave what has been your home, to reclaim your essence,” the New York-based artist says. “I hope with my story, and my music, I can encourage others to embrace who they really are.”
The journey to Break Free began in Chicago in the early aughts, when Oscarsson started taking guitar lessons. She had studied violin and piano as a child, and soon resumed piano and fiddle lessons as well. Eventually she was playing violin with local Chicago band, Mikey Peterson and the Trust, as well as other musicians and ensembles. On the twenty-fourth floor overlooking Lake Michigan, at the desk of her corporate job, she had begun to reimagine her life. She was drawn to New York City. It was in the energy of opportunity and immediacy, the majesty and the grit, where she felt at home. It is where she came to reclaim her life.
During a visit to the city, she heard a couple of buskers playing at the Union Square subway stop, and let several trains pass while mesmerized by their sound. It was the female duo, Left on Red. She was drawn to the catchy melodies, clever lyrics, adept guitar and fiddle playing and sultry vocals. She bought a CD and chatted with them for a few minutes before boarding the train. Like a story plucked from a New York fairytale, when Oscarsson returned to NYC —before permanently relocating—she discovered her Airbnb host was one half of Left on Red: the singer-songwriter, Liah Alonso. Fast forward a year later, Alonso became a friend and artistic collaborator. Break Free came to life in Alonso’s studio and performance space, the Treehouse in lower Manhattan. Coupled with Oscarsson’s melodies and lyrics, Alonso’s guitar arrangements and sumptuous backing vocals were the foundation on which Break Free was built.
The initial recordings were shelved for a couple of years until Oscarsson began working with Cari Cole on vocals, vocal arranging , A&R and the business of getting music out into the world. Chicago violinist, Susan Voelz (Poi Dog Pondering, Alejandro Escovedo, John Mellancamp) adds lushly layered string arrangements. Producer Carl Barc layered keys, drums, and bass on several tracks, and NYC bassist, Margaret La Bombard is featured on Say What You Gotta Say, and master drummer Doug Yowell (Joe Jackson, Judy Collins, Suzanne Vega) to play a haunting arrangement on Say What You Gotta Say. Break Free is finally ready for its debut.
“Break Free is about shedding the layers we shield ourselves with in order to avoid emotional pain, until the pain of not being seen is greater than the fear of shining in all your glory,” says Oscarsson.
The biting “Forget My Face” simmers with a moody vamp, bluesy hues, and slow-burn pop-rock hooks. The track confronts infidelity as a means to numb the pain of a break-up by always having a new lover waiting in the wings. An emotional centerpiece of Break Freeis the boldly vulnerable “Spring Tide.” Its tenderness is powerfully conveyed by heart-stirring violin passages, and the sweet lonesomeness conveyed by Oscarsson’s honeyed vocals. “Come Back To Peace,” invokes a dark beauty that fuses country, pop, and ballad-y rockabilly. In this steamy musical backdrop , Oscarsson reveals her struggle with meditation, mindfulness, and the never-ending challenge to be present. The hauntingly beautiful “Say What You Gotta Say” rouses with elegiac violins, primal drumming and a modern take on an old-timey work-song beat. Inspired by French film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, it encourages us to live in the present moment, be kind, and speak the truth. The title track concludes the EP with a quiet-fire anthem celebrating individuality.
Coming Soon, Break Free will be performed in its entirety by Ingrid Oscarsson and a full band at a CD release show in NYC.
On the horizon, is a Songwriting Retreat led by Ingrid Oscarsson, bringing together yoga, ceremony, meditation, nature, clean chef prepared meals, featured speakers and structured writing time in order to create a sacred space for songwriters to be able to create, collaborate and perform their music.
Pondering her 5-year path to Break Free, Oscarsson says: “It’s never too late to unapologetically be your authentic self. ”