Music Review: Helena Rebensdorff, the girl with the yellow suitcase

by Ella Navarro, photos by Julia Svede

Last Wednesday we witnessed Helena Rebensdorff performing improvisational music at Aros Museum. With this creative performance and tunes that could fit a movie soundtrack, Helena brought us a sneak peek of what she will play at Psych Fest and what it’s vibe is all about.

Shy girl, dressed in black
After ascending the Aros stairs, there she was – with all her instruments – in the museum hall, prepared to play her music. Dressed in black, at first sight, she would strike you as a timid girl, hiding under her dark wine lipstick and black bangs over her forehead.

She starts the show working her magic with her Korg board and laptop. We are submerged in a mix of bizarre sounds, and we are not sure where are they taking us. Then, suddenly, we hear her outstanding voice. She connects with the audience with penetrating eyes and sings: ‘You have that same ringtone‘.

Her lyrics tell a story. But these words  are not planned, they come to her mind in the moment, inspired by problems about the world we live in, about social media, about nights of drunkenness, when you wake up in a stranger’s bed.

As the performance moves on, Helena loosens up, the shyness is gone and her lyrics are more passionate. She dances to her music, shaking her head. She is definitely enjoying it and so does the audience, who applauds with gusto.

In one of the sets, she uses a ukulele held together with duct tape and starts recording some chords, which are then used as a background when she sings. The combination of her two voices and the chords is done to perfection. What started as slow, chilled music, in the end goes up, and you feel like dancing with her.

Singing off-the-cuff
Helena’s voice is deep and mesmerising.  She is composing as the show goes -constructing, inspired in the theme of this years festival.

You are watching and you think, how can she mix, sing, coordinate, improvise and dance all at the same time? After the concert we met her and her flashy yellow suitcase, to learn a little about her story.

“The trick is that you get the idea in your mind and then you don’t do it immediately, you let it sink a little bit. It’s easier to spill it out then”, she explained on how she improvises.


Fate or coincidence?
Helena’s exploration on improvisational music started a little by casualty. She was studying in Aarhus Music Academy three years ago and had to perform a concert, but didn’t feel like rehearsing her presentation. That’s when she decided to give a chance to improvisation.

During the performance on stage, things went better than expected: “I felt elevated. The energy in the room made me think: Okay, we have something here”, she explains. Then she started doing it here and there and people liked it. This resulted in invitations to different gigs and festivals and the word spread. She performed in New York, and now she is studying a Master’s in music in Copenhagen, while working on a new project of pop music.

For Helena, music is her life. However, she says: “I don’t feel like a musician, kind of a jack of all trades master of none, because I do a lot of artistic things besides music.”

“My favourite thing about music is the immediate response and interaction that you have with the audience”, she concluded.

Helena will play again this Saturday at 22:30. You don’t want to miss this beauty. Trust me!

Aarhus Psych Fest is happening this weekend at Radar, Godsbanen (30/9 – 1/10) 

Psych Fest define themselves as a ’boutique’ festival, gathering a wide range of underground artists who intend to bend with the music genre and can therefore be located under this ‘Psych umbrella’ they want to create. It is a festival for music lovers, for those who feel like exploring this intimate experience with alternative music. Together with music there will be an art programme to fully experience the Aarhus Psych scene.  This year’s theme is Construction, how we build things piece by piece to get a exotic result.

For the entire line-up, check out their site and buy tickets here.

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