If you feel lost these days, disturbed despite the summertime, turn to nature for comfort. That is what Ditte Grube under the moniker out of the woods did on her debut album. On “Birds and Beasts” she dug deep into the soothing sound of fauna and flora, mixed it with pieces of daily life that we obliviously pass by, and transformed it into a collection of songs which have a potential to become your best friends and teachers in the time of trouble and fear.
Ditte Grube is a singer, musician, composer and producer who used to be a forest worker in East Jutland. Her love for nature is clearly distinct on the out of the woods album.
“I am no longer working as a forest worker, but I am now a biologist specialised in botany. I have been working a lot in the forest the last years, mapping the state-owned forests, finding the valuable parts with high biodiversity. Making lists of all the plant species, looking for indicator species, like specific species of moss and lichens growing on the trees, and measuring all the deadwood—the key element to high biodiversity in the forests. I still spend a lot of time working in the woods, just with a different goal and perspective,” she says about her experience.
out of the woods‘ music is mature as well as almost childlike honest. You can hear that music was always a part of Ditte’s life one way or another.
“When I was a kid, I started piano lessons and loved to just sit there and play and enjoy the sound coming from this big instrument. I was playing the saxophone for a few years then, and I still have it in my studio for occasional woodwind sections (as you can hear on a few songs on the record: “Blanket of Light” and “Daylight Trail”). Later on, I learned a few chords on the guitar from my father. I then started writing songs on the guitar as a teenager and was kind of using it as an outlet for my feelings and frustrations. Writing down my thoughts, trying to understand myself and the world,” she explains.
While listening to the “Birds and Beasts” album, you can feel how the songs take care of your troubled mind. They help you breathe. They tell stories which are important, occasionally sad or harsh, but every message comes with empathy and compassion. You can hear it especially in “Silence You with Love”.
“I wrote this song in a tough period of a relationship. A time where I felt I kept hitting a wall, every time I was searching for common ground. I was met by an armour of anger and frustration, and I got this strong feeling of how inadequate words can be. And all tired out, I had this wish—if I could silence with love. Silence all the anger and frustration with love. The picture in my head grew. And I was picturing some of our less appealing world leaders, and how they sometimes seem like lost souls. Maybe lacking some of that essential love that would make them silent and reflective,” explains Ditte.
“Birds and Beasts” is a well-balanced collection of songs which gives an impression of being in the middle of a deep forest, or on a meadow where children play. The world of nature and the world of men mix and tangle in out of the woods‘ songs. However, nature seems to win over humans. Perhaps, it is because Ditte Grube travelled to Iceland with a mini studio to record the touching violin parts for “Birds and Beasts”.
“When I was going to Iceland one summer, I knew there was a small chance I might get a little time with the talented violinist Una Sveinbjarnardóttir. I brought my small sound card, a few mics and my studio laptop, in hope of getting some violin tracks on my album. I finally succeeded, and one afternoon in an apartment in Reykjavik, I had to let a few teardrops fall while I was getting the most beautiful, enchanting violin on three of my songs. The violin really added a whole other dimension to the record, and I hope to collaborate with Una more in the future,” says Ditte.
“I love the idea of being able to create on the spot. Of not depending on the ability to afford to book a big fancy studio and plan it a long time ahead. Just being able to jump to the mic if an idea or a feeling appears. It sometimes makes the production afterwards very complicated, because you haven’t planned ahead or created a detailed structure around the process. But sometimes it pays off with the spontaneous magic and simply makes it possible to create when you are in the mood (or have a rare moment with a skilled musician),” she adds.
You can also hear the magic of violin in the song “I Am an Island”. When I listen to it, my mind somehow travels to Iceland. There is something very specific for this part of the world in the track’s atmosphere. The feeling of cold, melancholic grace. The feeling of being alone and trying to stand still, even if all you want is to disappear. However, the idea for this particular song first came in… a bathtub.
“I started writing the song one time I was lying in my bathtub, feeling down… and picturing myself as an island of skin and bones floating around in the water. While I was lying there, I was listening to the birds outside and the kids in the playground next door, through the ventilation canal. So, when I was recording the song, those sounds just had to be a part of the soundscape,” remembers Ditte.
The creative process that out of the woods presents on the debut album gives it a freshness but it didn’t come without little troubles. You can hear lovely birds singing in the background of the last song “Daylight Trail”.
“The birds chirping on the record are from my garden. They gave me a lot of trouble while I was recording. I live in an old house from 1865, and many sounds can apparently travel through the cracks in the windows. So at some point, I had to turn the clock around and record at night to get some quiet time from the bird. Eventually, I decided to dedicate a bit of the album to the birds and recorded the dawn chorus in the garden. I gave them the of the outro of “Daylight Trail” and the album. I also just liked the idea of having a bit of the natural elements in there. After all, the birds were singing long before humans were around,” says Ditte.
Did you know that it is good for you to hug a birch tree? Apparently, it is like a forest therapy for your body and soul. I think, listening to out of the woods debut album “Birds and Beasts” gives a similar effect. Its ten songs are a true reflection of the world around us. out of the woods has an extraordinary ability to see and hear little bits and pieces which come together to create a landscape of our lives. Sometimes, we are just too busy or impatient to notice those bits ourselves. On “Birds and Beasts”, out of the woods does it for us. Now there is no excuse to not stand still for a moment and truly listen to the surrounding world, while appreciating the nature and its role.