photo by Julie Garrett

Schön Schein is the glimmering name of Julie Dybvad’s one-woman project, who just released her self-titled debut EP. I admire her strength and bravery to get music out all by herself. No management, no social media or PR helpers, just Julie. She wrote to me personally, by which I was pleasantly surprised. 

I started Schön Schein in 2019 when my desire to go solo and get right to the core of songwriting, vocal sound, and sound of my acoustic guitar and my semi-acoustic jazz guitar overwhelmed the urge to continue my previous big folk band Judy Has A Lion,” says Dybvad of her new project. “It’s a solo project, which means that I wrote all the tracks myself, but I have had a handful of talented studio musicians join in on some tracks.

The self-titled EP is a delicate jazzy five-tracker that steals your heart with its elaborate harmonies and Julie’s rich timbre. Her voice embodies all the pleasant tones in palettes of wine. In one song, she can go dark and deep like a nice red, soft and light like a summery white, and relievingly careless and sweet like a rosé. Listening to Schön Schein, I picture a smokey underground jazz bar, as well as a rich green field with folk musicians and Joan Baez. This EP makes a perfect fit for both moods. 

“I found inspiration in older and newer heroes, all female artists and guitarists, who, like myself, tend to shift between folk and jazz, including Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux, Bedouine, Alice Phoebe Lou and Julie Byrne,” Dybvad says about the EP’s creative process.

The single “Sinister Voice” shows how nicely jazz and folk can be connected with the right vocals. “I hear a sinister voice / guiding me into the dark,” Dybvad beautifully articulates the words one by one, recited with a captivating melody. It is not all sun and daisies in the lyrics, as you might expect from this genre or the artist’s name (German for “beautiful shine”). Fortunately, it only adds the spice. Dybvad wrote the song after playing at her favourite Danish festival, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, on a warm and beautiful summer night. “I came home early in the morning, still intoxicated by wine, love, and amazing live jazz music, and sat down to write ‘Sinister Voice’,” she explains.

The EP’s closing track “Liquid Green” is quite the opposite. The lyrics deal with missing a deeper connection underneath the intoxication and momentary joy. This song is about having a place to doze off when it’s late, to pour out your heart. “Although I write most of my lyrics from my own experiences, I always try to keep the text open to interpretation, so that the listeners can put their own feelings into the song,” Dybvad adds.

Schön Schein has been playing shows in June supporting the Danish indie folk outfit Death Machine, whose drummer Sven Busck and bassist Morten Ørberg contributed to two tracks on this EP. As the world is opening back up and concerts are becoming possible, I hope to experience both Schön Schein and Death Machine live somewhere soon. 

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