Agnes Obel (born 28 October 1980) is a Danish singer-songwriter and musician who began her musical career in 2005. Her music blends elements from classical, alternative, and modern pop to create atmospheric and intricate sounds. Born to a family of musicians, Obel grew up between Copenhagen and Berlin, and began her professional musical training at the age of six. Obelâ€™s recordings have been acclaimed by both critics and fans for her unique voice, precise production and poignant songwriting.
Obelâ€™s critically acclaimed debut album, Philharmonics, was released in August 2010 to wide critical acclaim. Her work has been compared to artists such as BjÃ¶rk, The National and Bat For Lashes, leading her to become one of the most acclaimed Danish musicians of recent times. Released in 2015, Citizen of Glass was a further success, being awarded 2016â€™s Danish Music Awards for Best Danish Album and Best Pop Release.
Agnes Caroline Thaarup Obel was born on October 28th, 1980 in Gentofte, Denmark. Her father, Jesper Thaarup Obel, is a professor of architecture at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts while her mother, Anne Gnatz Obel, is a concert singer and piano teacher. From a young age, Obel was surrounded by music as both her parents were classical musicians. Growing up, Obel spent time between Copenhagen and Berlin, starting piano lessons at a young age. By age nine, Agnes had mastered Bach, and was a designated talented student of piano at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. She spent more than a decade at the Academy and received her diploma at age 18.
Obelâ€™s professional musical career began in 2005, when she released her debut EP. This led to a contract with major Danish record label PIAS Recordings, who have released all of her records to date. Obelâ€™s debut album, Philharmonics, was released in 2010 to wide acclaim and featured her single, â€œJust So," which was featured on the moviesoundtrack Little Men. The album was later reissued as part of an international version, which featured English versions of her songs. Recurring motifs on the record included references to nature, snow, and fragility.
The follow-up to Philharmonics, Aventine, was released in 2013 to further critical acclaim. The release saw Obel explore more personal themes and the rise of digital aesthetics. One particular highlight of the record was â€œThe Curse", an electric guitar-inspired single that was described as having a â€œBeats Antique" feels. Aventine performed better commercially than Philharmonics, reaching the Top 10 in Obelâ€™s native Denmark. This trend of commercial success continued with Obelâ€™s third studio album, Citizen of Glass.
The album was released in the second half of 2016 to widespread critical acclaim. One critic from the Website AllMusic praised the album for being â€œless of a downcast and upbeat pop album than its predecessor... with Obel adding subtler shades to the ethereal minimalism found elsewhere" while Rolling Stone further acclaimed the album for its â€œmeticulous transparency and warm organic tones". Citizen of Glass was later recognized as the Best Album at 2016â€™s Danish Music Awards and was named Best Pop Release at the same ceremony.
Described as â€œone of the most recognizable alternative voices of her generations," Obel has toured extensively and collaborated with acclaimed musicians such as the Lucky Chops and Kronos Quartet. Inspired by Claude Debussy and Isao Tomita, Obelâ€™s sound is both atmospheric and sparse, exploring multiple emotions with a delicate and refined touch. Outside of music, Obel has invested in multiple visual art projects, often depicting pure and simple landscapes.
Since her 2005 debut, Agnes Obel has achieved widespread fame, mostly in her homeland Denmark, where she has won numerous awards for her music. Her spiritual, lullabyish sound has drawn in both fans and critics alike to captivate audiences with her emotional and detailed songwriting. As of 2019, Agnes is currently hard at work on her fourth studio album and is scheduled to perform at multiple festivals across Europe.