Sofia Jernberg

Sofia Jernberg is a Swedish experimental singer, composer, improviser and performer, born in Ethiopia 1983. She grew up in Ethiopia, Vietnam and Sweden. Since 2011 she is based in Oslo, Norway. One of her deepest interests as a singer is to explore the “instrumental” possibilities of the voice. Her singing vocabulary include sounds and techniques that often contradict a conventional singing style. She has dug deep into non verbal vocalizing, split tone singing, pitchless singing and distorted singing. She has performed several staged music theater pieces like Arnold Schönberg’s ”Pierrot Lunaire”, Salvatore Sciarrinos “Lohengrin”. Composers have written roles especially with her in mind like in Emily Hall’s ”Folie à Deux and Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s ”UR:”. She has performed together with visual artist Camille Norment and was a part of her piece ”Rapture” (Venice Biennale 2015) and ”Lull” (Festspillene i Bergen 2016). She is featured in a 80 minutes cinematic work, ”Union of the North”, by Erna Ómarsdóttir, Matthew Barney and Valdimar Jóhannsson. As a composer, her main focus lies in blending improvisation and composition. Besides composing for her own ensembles, she regularly gets commissions from others. Previous commissions: Barents composer orchestra, Swedish Radio P2, Stockholm Jazz Festival, Trondheim jazz orchestra, vocal ensemble Oslo 14, Klang – Copenhagen Avantgarde Music Festival, The Gothenburg Combo and various chamber ensembles.


1: Always doubting
2: Never been to South America, but 3 times to Greenland
3: Never had a father


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?

If I knew that, it would be easy to get inspired, no? I find that harder and harder the older I become. But of course other people’s music, especially that which attempt to give a different perspective on the already obvious.

2. How and when did you get into making music?

If it wasn’t for my mother (who is not a musician), I think I wouldn’t be making music at all. She put me into choir school when I was 10 years old and from then on music has been everything.

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?

That’s really not easy, I’m just picking what comes to mind this very minute.

Salvatore Sciarrino – 6 Capricci
Karin Rehnqvist – Davids Nim (the piece with same name on that record
Thorleiv H Bjørgum – Dolkaren
Sainkho Namchylak – Lost Rivers
Les voix du monde – Une Anthologie Des Expressions Vocales

4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Calm and quiet
Wide streets
Surrealistic partys
Lovely people
Tiny flowers in people’s homes

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?

Close to my heater.

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?

I just came back from NYC where I was singing sci fi alien country music with a strong contemporary touch. That music came from a very special planet and I believe it to be true. I would go there or become a nurse on Earth. Both seem like equally good options to me.

7. What was the last record/music you bought?

Kate Tempest – Let them eat chaos

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Always open for new collaborations. The world consists of so many talented musicians, composers, artist, dancers so naming a few would exclude too many. Therefore I will not.

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?

Really enjoyed Espen Reinertsen’s release concert a couple of weeks back.

10. How important is technology to your creative process?

I don’t use electronics myself. But I work in many context where technology play a huge part. Especially in some of the contemporary operas I’ve been involved in as a singer. Personally, I am still fascinated and occupied with what the voice can do naturally. In that way I’m a bit old fashioned.

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?

I have a sister, she thinks I’m completely crazy doing what I do, I don’t blame her.

Sophia Jernberg will perform at Ausland on 8th November 2017.