Photo: Julie Hrnčířova
The path to the release of rising singer-songwriter Ole Kirkeng’s debut EP Rocking Chair, out on February 19, 2021 via Die With Your Boots On Records, has unexpectedly become a full circle.
The Norwegian native spent five years in the United States and began to hone his craft at Berklee College of Music. During his time there, he engulfed himself in the surrounding creative community. Influential sound technician Susan Rogers, who worked with Prince during most of the 80s, became a close mentor and showed him the ropes.
After his time in college, Kirkeng headed to Brooklyn, eager to once again dive into a new music scene. He went from stage to stage across the city, guitar on his back, ready to perform while making important human connections along the way. He earned a spot in Courtney Marie Andrews band and even earned a spot as support for Molly Tuttle. That time in New York City helped Ole keep art, and those who love art, constantly in his orbit.
"The scene in NYC was quintessential for me to develop as a singer-songwriter, and still is,” Kirkeng explains. "Because of the array of venues around town, I was able to play and go see live music almost every week. A lot of my friends in Brooklyn are either musicians, music-lovers or work with other art forms, so being surrounded by such a creative group was a constant inspiration.”
This feeling of connection and collaboration is at the core of Kirkeng’s latest project, which took its final form outside of U.S. borders.
In the midst of a burgeoning global pandemic, Kirkeng made the choice to return to his home country of Norway. In a short time, he once again found inspiration through connections, with both rising artists and musicians he had admired since his teenage years.
In Dec. 2019, he headed to Øyvind Røsrud Gundersen’s cozy Brageveien Studio in Oslo to start work on a new EP. A place Kirkeng describes as “an underground oasis graced with vintage instruments and synthesizers everywhere you turn,” the studio created the perfect environment for creative growth. With the help of Gundersen and an assortment of incredible talent, including label-mates Live Miranda Solberg, aka Louien and Tor Egil Kreken of Darling West.
"I gave every musician on this record full trust in their musical compasses, and I didn’t give any pointers on how to approach each song. Something special happens I think, when someone reacts with their natural instincts, and they have the opportunity to express their own musical gift with no interference,” Kirkeng notes. "Everyone involved in making this EP approached the songs with utmost care, which I’m very grateful for.”
Rocking Chair showcases Kirkeng’s incredible, engulfing blend of folk and indie-pop that often nods to the best and most classic singer-songwriters of our time.
Lead single “Double Shift” is warm and inviting, a toast to those who keep a positive mind and keep pushing forward. “Alone With My Phone” is a stunning, string-driven ode to love that is deeply felt but out of physical reach, while title track “Rocking Chair” considers the waxing and waning of stability in life.
Rocking Chair is only the first stride forward for Ole Kirkeng, an artist with plenty more paths to cross and even more stories to tell.