Episode 042–Ingrid Oscarsson “Break Free” EP with Bruce Hilliard
Five years ago, singer-songwriter Ingrid Oscarsson did something most of us dream about but few of us do: She started over. Ingrid moved to a new city, left behind friends, lovers, and a secure job to be the person she always wanted to be, a musician.
Now, she announces her emancipation with the aptly titled EP, Break Free. It’s a masterful debut that, with singular artistry, fluidly weaves through indie rock, sparkles of glam rock, intimate folk, bluesy pop, sensual roots music, and smoldering balladry.
“My story is about shedding layers to finally be my authentic self. Sometimes you have to go far away to reclaim your essence,” the New York-based artist says. “I hope with my story, and my music, I can encourage others to embrace who they really are.”
The journey to Break Free gained traction in Chicago, in the early 2000s when Ingrid began taking guitar lessons. Previously, she had played violin as a child, and had a short stint pursuing guitar as a young adult. But sitting in a cubicle feeling numb inside, she began to reimagine her life. From afar, she admired New York City, romanticizing its beauty and cultural heritage while picturing herself immersed in the city’s frantic pace, getting a second chance at her first love, music. Guitar lessons became the opening salvo in a revolt to reclaim her life.
An influx of creativity from exploring guitar enlivened Ingrid. She became more adventurous, and began regularly visiting New York City, soaking up all its majesty. During one visit, she encountered a street performer at a subway stop, and purchased the singer’s CD. Like a story plucked from a New York fairytale, when Ingrid came back to stay in New York for an extended period—before permanently relocating—her Airbnb host ended up being that very same street performer, and proved to be an artistic ally on Break Free, helping Ingrid develop songs, and lending production talents and guitar skills to the recordings.
Thematically, Break Free explores various facets of self-revelation, from moving on from unhealthy relationships that hinder growth and success; to examining ways we hold ourselves back; to struggling to find a spiritual center.
The biting “Forget My Face” simmers with a moody vamp, bluesy hues, and slow-burn pop-rock hooks. The track confronts an unfaithful lover’s toxic pattern of going from relationship to relationship, carelessly wrecking hearts and lives along the way. On “Come Back To Peace,” Ingrid invokes a dark beauty that fuses country, pop, and ballad-y rockabilly. Here, in this steamy setting, Ingrid reveals her struggle with meditation, mindfulness, and the hard-fought battle to be present in life. The hauntingly beautiful “Say What You Gotta Say” rouses with elegiac violins and a modern take on an old-timey work-song beat. The song was inspired by the movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and the message is all we have is now. The title track concludes the EP with a quiet-fire anthem celebrating individuality.
Up next, Ingrid will be performing live, and, enterprisingly, she is planning to share Break Free’s liberating message with others via an innovative and centering songwriting retreat that features yoga and meditation. This getaway will offer songwriters a sacred space to unplug and realign with their souls and their artistry. Pondering her 5-year path to Break Free, Ingrid says: “It’s never too late to be your authentic self.”