// HELEN SVOBODA is a double-bassist, vocalist, composer, vegetable-lover and nature-enthusiast.
‘With a deep awareness of extra-musical concepts that shape inventive improvisation, and great art.. ‘ (Steve Newcomb, AUS), she draws influence mainly from vegetables, flowers and the genres of minimalist neo-classical music to experimental jazz. With a steadfast ‘desire and ability to create and perform original music’ (Rafael Karlen, AUS), Svoboda has developed a distinctive sound across many different musical avenues. With a passion for unusual combinations of instrumentation, she is defined not by genre, but by her addiction to music and her love of exciting creative environments (both plant and non-plant related).
// Born into a family of classical musicians in Finland (1994), Svoboda grew up in Brisbane, Australia from the age of five, studying both classical piano and flute. Driven by the spontaneity of improvised music and the novelty of large wooden instruments, she later settled upon the double bass, graduating from the QLD Conservatorium of Music in 2015 (Bachelor of Advanced Jazz Performance) with a University Medal and First Class Honours.
// Fueled by strange sonic frequencies, Svoboda has released albums across a number of her own original projects to date: ambient, environmentally-themed alternative rock band The Biology of Plants (‘Vol. 1’ – Supersonic Records 2018 & ‘Vol. 2’ – Art as Catharsis 2019), minimalist chamber trio Helen Svoboda’s Sprout (‘Hectic Moon’ 2018 & ‘Sleep Architecture’ 2019) and Brisbane-based improvised piano trio Min/Svoboda/Hawkins (‘Min/Svoboda/Hawkins’ – 2018). // Upcoming releases include the debut album of Meatshell – her experimental-folk duo with saxophonist Andrew Saragossi (‘Afar’ – Made Now Music JUNE 2019) and AHA Trio‘s debut EP (‘Against All Odds – Supersonic 2019), recorded in collaboration with saxophonist Andrew Saragossi and German drummer Andre van der Heide.
Svoboda has also featured on albums across a range of other projects including experimental-post-rock-band Jive Canyon, Martin Kay’s animal-inspired-jazz-septet Forage, Caleb Colledge’s folk/spoken word album Yarns and a number of improvised trios including an upcoming collaborative release with Melbourne pianist Joseph O’Connor (Aus National Jazz Award Winner) and Timothy Green (drums). On a much smaller instrument, she also featured as flautist on the debut album of the Brisbane Conduction Orchestra, led by Benjamin Shannon.
// As a composer and musician, Svoboda channels the influence of some of her favourite artists including Charlie Haden, Tigran Hamasyan, Debussy and Phillip Glass… ‘largely inspired by minimalism, her pieces feature energy and momentum from the bubbling rhythmic and melodic patterns; always familiar, yet never exactly the same’ (CutCommon, AUS). She has written works for a number of ensembles other than her own, including ‘Space Junk’ which was performed at the Adelaide International Guitar Festival (2018) by 28-piece classical guitar orchestra Aurora Guitar Ensemble, and ‘Eavesdropping’ – a commissioned work as part of the Trading Fours project (QLD Conservatorium of Music) in which she translated elements of coffee addiction into a three-part suite for jazz sextet (to be premiered in early 2019). Most recently she was also commissioned to write and perform a piece specifically for the Dutch coffee roastery Blanche Dahl, as part of a private showcase for thirty local baristas.
// As an ‘indispensible part of the Brisbane jazz, improvised and experimental music scenes’ (Erik Griswold, AUS), Svoboda has performed with artists including Joe Chindamo (MO Award Winner), Emma Pask, Steve Newcomb, John Hoffman, Kristin Berardi (Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition Winner), Katie Noonan (ARIA Award Winner), Isabelle Duthoit (France)/Frans Hautzinger (Austria), Clare Bowditch and Christian Meeas Svendsen (Norway). // She has performed at venues including the Brisbane Powerhouse, The Tivoli, Jazzlab (Melbourne), La Bonbonniere (Maastricht) and MONA (Museum of Old and New Art – Tasmania; as part of the Australian Art Orchestra’s Creative Intensive in 2017). // Festival experience includes the Brisbane International Jazz Festival, Queensland Music Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, WE Festival (Maastricht), Hasselt Jazz Festival (Belgium) and Clocked Out’s Easter @ The Piano Mill (Stanthorpe), where she performed site-specific improvisation responding to the natural environment.
// With a strong connection to her European roots, Svoboda has recently relocated to Maastricht, Netherlands to commence a Masters of Music (Conservatorium Maastricht), studying under Matthias Nowak, John Goldsby (WDR Big Band) and Sebastian Gramss (Cologne). With a focus on soloistic double bass techniques and performance, her solo-project Helen Svoboda’s Vegetable-Bass is focused specifically on the intricate combination of the voice and the contemporary double bass.
Svoboda will return to Australia in June-July 2019 to launch her newest releases across the east coast – specifically Vol. 2 from ‘The Biology of Plants’ (recent winners of the QLD MUSIC AWARDS 2019), Sleep Architecture from Helen Svoboda’s SPROUT & Afar from ‘Meatshell’. Before returning Europe to commence further shows and touring, she will attend the renowned BANFF International Workshop for Creative and Improvised Music in August.