Spotlight on Avante Black: The artist on Bushstock, inspiration and the future...

Avante Black - Credit Olivia Richardson

One band kicking up a storm in 2017 is Avante Black. It’s hard to describe them, really – with two Swedes, an Italian bassist and more roots in the UK than anywhere else, they’re geographically widespread. And according to frontwoman Ottilia Zimmerman Kjulsten, this year, nothing is going to stop them.

Hailing from a musical family, Swedish-born Ottilia explains that her father had tried to direct her towards music from a young age. “It wasn’t until I was fifteen that I was interested,” She explains. “I picked up a guitar through my own choice and that’s how it all started.” This frontwoman wasn’t cultivated to become a star, and she didn’t go to Brit School – this was all herself.

With Bob Dylan lyrics tattooed on her arm and an intricate style of writing, it’s easy to see why the 22-year-old was so drawn to the industry. “I used to stay up all night teaching myself chords,” She adds. “And then I’d fake being ill the day after just so I could practice!”

And the practice has clearly paid off. Ottilia started her live adventures not long after she’d first picked up a guitar – at age 15 she was playing her way through a setlist of cover songs for school shows, and two years later she’d branched out into the big, wide world, playing in acoustic bars and cafes around both East and West London. She says that she felt comfort performing with her guitar in front of her, as if the instrument was a barrier. “But I never thought I’d have it in me, fronting a band,” She admits, explaining why Avante Black came about. “But I’ve learned that there are a lot of things I thought I couldn’t do – but it’s easier if you try.” And these seem to be the words Ottilia lives by.

"There are a lot of things I thought I couldn’t do – but it’s easier if you try.”

Avante Black credit many artists for influencing their sound, but the list changes every week. It’s apt, considering their experimental music. Last month it was Frank Ocean, and the month before that, it was Moodyman. “I’m constantly looking for new inspiration - recently, I saw Damo Suzuki from Can doing an improvised gig and it simply blew me away,” Ottilia explains. “But it’s exciting. It makes us want to try new stuff.”

Ottilia’s voice is unique. It’s a contradiction – it’s heavy yet ethereal, it’s complex yet dreamy, it’s dark yet sugary sweet. She doesn’t disagree; describing Avante Black’s sound as, “flirty, dark but also summery.” It’s no surprise that the band is gaining momentum, but the ride has not been an easy one.

"The music industry is tough and the road has been long!”

Anyone knows that the music industry is difficult. With the rise of social media and websites such as YouTube, it’s both harder and easier to make a name for yourself. But Ottilia and the band have persevered, and they’ve come out the other side stronger than ever. “There have been so many turns I’ve lost count,” The singer says when describing the journey. “I always put extreme pressure on myself and sometimes, I aim too high. But that’s not always a bad thing – you just need to learn to get up after the fall.”

We ask how the band benefit from Music Glue... "We know where our fans are and who they are, and that’s important on every level.” Avante Black used Music Glue to create their own website – and that includes selling tickets and merchandise. Their website is entirely personal, and that’s what stands out. Ottilia connects with her fans on a personal level, “Right now, we’re just breaking the ice!”. The band also gained the opportunity to play Bushstock festival through Music Glue, something that Ottilia is looking forward to. “It’s amazing, we just hope all our gear works properly!”

"We know where our fans are and who they are, and that’s important on every level."

Ottilia intends to enjoy every minute of her journey. “I just want to write and create,” She explains. “I want to see the world. I want to inspire and be inspired.” And that’s what Avante Black is all about: art – creating it, seeing it, feeling it. And it shows in their sound, with experimental pop and dreamy bass lines.

And as for the rest of 2017? Ottilia refuses to slow down. “I’m going to work hard, and challenge myself,” She says. “And I also want to get better at playing the drums.” As she already knows – practice makes perfect. And Avante Black are as close to that as they possibly can be right now.

Bushstock festival is on June 10, 2017 in London. Buy tickets here.

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