Danish pop kid with a relentless urge to dance - that how Asbjørn describes himself. At 22, the multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician and producer is, however, so much more than that. With one album under his belt and a second in the pipeline, Asbjørn is hard at work with the ambition of redefining his generation’s take on pop music. Too young to be a vinyl-maniac but too old to embrace the digital age unreflectingly, Asbjørn on February 1 launched his new project Pseudo Visions - a fresh take on today’s music formats that lets Asbjørn’s audience join him on a yearlong exploration of his artistry.
The term Pseudo Visions encapsulates the most intense moments that leave you to wonder if they were real or some sort of dream gazes. Every song – or vision – is accompanied by a video, and combined the videos tell a continuous story that will evolve throughout the year. The story is divided into three chapters, and will reach its conclusion in early 2015. “Some of the songs may be radio-friendly, others are just beautiful stories I need to tell. And no matter their commercial potential, all these songs will have equal opportunities”, Asbjørn elaborates. “It’s not up to me which ones people respond to, but I will know that all of them had the chance to change something for someone”. So far four songs have been released and compiled on an EP entitled Pseudo Visions: Chapter One. On August 1, Chapter Two opens with The Love You Have In You and three more songs will follow before Christmas.
The Pseudo Visions project will keep Asbjørn busy throughout 2014, and writing songs, recording, making videos, releasing and touring will surely keep the young pop visionary from post-release restlessness. “Artists post so much bullshit on the social media platforms because they are afraid of being forgotten. But basically, it’s not relevant to my music what I had for breakfast. The important thing is that I live and breathe music, and as long as I do that the fear of being forgotten is not present”, Asbjørn says.
As a child Asbjørn felt a strong connection to powerful women, finding his inspiration in unusual idols for a small boy. Female characters as diverse as Snow White and Madonna dictated his style and interests when he, primarily dressed in skirts, invented choreographies in his countryside childhood home just outside of Aarhus - Denmark’s second largest city. “I would come home from school, put a t-shirt on my head, like a wig, and imitate Madonna’s dance moves from the ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ video”, Asbjørn recalls.
During Asbjørn’s upbringing his parents – both musicians and teachers - tried to prepare him for the outside world and the possible hardships his atypical behaviour could cause. “They must have thought I wanted to be a girl or at least drag or something”, Asbjørn ponders. “But I have never felt like I was trapped in the wrong body. At the time I simply just related more to women than to men, and I needed to live that out”.
What was an act of play in his childhood turned out to be an important building stone when Asbjørn threw himself into songwriting from the age of 10. Imitating the female icons of his Walkman he explored the vulnerable parts of his voice, while dancing along to Destiny’s Child’s Independent Women set his body free. These women made him the adventurous melody maker and courageous booty shaker he is today. But the women’s liberation does not translate well to the male part of the music industry, Asbjørn claims. “Being an ‘independent man’, exploring your sexuality and playing with the masculine ideal is still hard in pop-culture, and most men who try will be labelled ‘less men’. I believe that every man should find his own balance between femininity and masculinity, and standing by that balance makes him a real man. However, that is not yet the perception in mainstream culture today”. In his essay The Times Of The Stereotypical Man Are Over that was published by the German music blog Nothing But Hope And Passion (http://bit.ly/1gQCwDx), Asbjørn develops his thoughts on this subject further.
Raised on 90’s pop, Asbjørn may seem far from his starting point when he describes his own alternative and playful productions as ‘pop’. And yet: “I grew up when Spice Girls ruled the air waves and everybody fell in love with Britney in her schoolgirl outfit. Pop-culture always was and still is my stepping stone, and that’s why I call my own music pop; I believe other 90’s kids like me also felt something was missing”, Asbjørn explains. He embodied that statement on his 2012 debut album Sunken Ships, delivering pop songs in a completely new wrapping.
With his unmistakably self-exposing lyrics and crackling experimental productions conceived by Asbjørn himself and his long-time musical collaborator Jonas Tranberg, songs like the lead-off single The Criminal immediately drew the attention from local media and the international music blogosphere alike. And following his show in 2012 at Denmark’s leading music industry event the Spot Festival, invitations to play some of Europe’s most prestigious festivals such as the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Reeperbahn Festival and the Berlin Festival started to pour in.
With 20 gigs in 2013 Germany has become Asbjørn’s second home market. And while Asbjørn plays most of the instruments on his recordings, his spell-binding live-shows are a different matter altogether: His hard-hitting stage presence, his unique voice and non-stop dancing walk hand-in-hand with the raw energy of his 4-piece live-band and keep his loyal audience coming back for more. In August, Asbjørn will round up his festival summer with another two shows in Germany including C/O Pop in Köln (22 August). And following the release of the next four songs and the EP Pseudo Visions: Chapter Two he will embark on 15-gig tour of the Danish and German club circuit in November/December.
Being the creative D.I.Y. boss of Body of Work, the music company he runs with his manager Jesper Bay, the goal is clear: “I will make 2014 a year of continuous communication with my audience, hopefully expanding my musical playground into new territories in the process,” Asbjørn concludes. “I think of my music as the ultimate freedom. I don’t need to worry about what’s normal - I really just want to capture extraordinary things in life to remind myself and everybody who tends to forget: It is the moments you let go that moves you somewhere new”.