20:20 — 20 Questions, 20 Answers
In part 26 of our continuing 20:20 Q&A series,
Bruno Skibbild —singer-songwriter and devoted father—
is our first guest from Denmark!
Bruno shares openly with us about a particularly dark and difficult time in his life. We feel his compassion and positivity as he works to overcome this terrible strife and turmoil. His inspiring and hopeful words are a soothing balm to our spirits. Smile with us as he talks about his love for his children, winning Best Country Song Award at Clouzine International Music Awards in 2020, playing Bruce Springsteen songs, and more.
Welcome, Bruno, and thank you for joining us!
20:20 with Bruno Skibbild
NWM 1): Please introduce yourself, briefly, as a musician and human of Earth.
Bruno: I am an almost-50-year-old rock/country singer from Denmark. Inspired by the rock-band Kiss. I started at a young age to play guitar and write my own songs trying to sound like Kiss. Later on, I picked up Bruce Springsteen, and he is still a big inspiration for me—both in general life and in music.
Knowing that life is full of sorrow and pain—there is always a bit of hope and light—look through the tunnel and walk step by step. And even in the darkest of times, keep your trust and faith—that will get you through the darkness.
That is why I put a positive and happy vibe on my lyrics, which could have been pretty dark if chosen otherwise.
NWM 2): What’s a favorite of your songs? Please tell us a little bit about it.
Bruno: Actually, I think my best songs are still to come. I have many songs in my drawer, just waiting to get recorded.
If I had to make a choice between the songs I have recorded, I would choose ‘Long Walk.’ Not only because I like what the band did to it, but also because that song is a description of my life. At some point in life you have to accept that there are steps and decisions in life that you have to do on your own, and it might take a while, but you will get through—maybe not to ‘The Promised Land’—but at least to another place.
It has always made me smile—and still does—when my kids come up to me and say, ‘Look what I did.’ Seeing that smile in my children’s eyes makes me smile.
NWM 3): Name three things that make you smile.
Bruno: It has always made me smile—and still does—when my kids come up to me and say, ‘Look what I did.’ Seeing that smile in my children’s eyes makes me smile.
When I was teaching school, it would always make me smile when a student looked at me, and I could see in their eyes that they had learned something new—and were happy about it.
It really makes me smile when ‘The Underdog’ wins—that is in sports as in life. Every time David takes a victory over Goliath it makes me smile. That gives hope—also for people who are less fortunate.
NWM 4): What is a favorite cover you perform?
Bruno: That is easy to answer—Bruce Springsteen. I love to perform meaningful songs—and they can be played with my one-man-band. ‘The Promised Land,’ ‘Waitin’ on a Sunny Day,’ and ‘Further on up the Road’ would be my favorite songs to perform.
NWM 5): What is something that has surprised you in your life or career? Tell us a bit about it.
Bruno: It has surprised me how much fellowship I have experienced in the indie community. How I can sit in my home-office and connect with people around the world—supporting and encouraging each other to take that step further. Sometimes it just takes one word from a colleague to get the process moving.
NWM 6): In 2019, your first single ‘A World Tomorrow,’ which you wrote when you were 16, was at last recorded more than 30 years later. Please share about this experience.
Bruno: When I was 16, I played guitar in a band, M87, in my hometown of Herning in Denmark. We wrote our own songs both in Danish and English. I got to sing some of the songs on stage when we did gigs.
I guess I didn’t think that music could become a way to live, and I listened to my school advisors and went on to what I thought would be a safe way to make a living. I put my songs in my drawer—singing and playing only for fun when we had family gathering. I went through high school, junior college, and university and got myself a Master’s Degree in American History.
You might say that I didn’t have the courage at the time to ‘break free.’ I was a good student, got fine grades, and ended up teaching in the school-system.
I found the school-system too tight and narrow—and not really creative enough.
At 46, I came to a place in my life where I didn’t see the meaning of teaching in the school-system anymore. I found the school-system too tight and narrow—and not really creative enough. Having experienced both stress and my first depression, I just couldn’t teach anymore.
So I went to the local music-shop and bought myself a new guitar and picked up my old dream of making songs and performing them—and hopefully make a living of it.
One year later, in 2018, I moved to the other end of the country to get closer to other musicians who are located in Copenhagen, and in 2019, I recorded the first single ‘A World Tomorrow.’
At 46, I went to the local music-shop and bought myself a new guitar and picked up my old dream of making songs and performing them …
NWM 7): How do you express your creativity other than through music?
Bruno: At this point I am concentrating on my songs and music to get as many of my songs out there as possible.
But I have published two books. In 2009, I published Bruno’s Children, and in 2018, I published Daddy in Trouble. They are both in Danish.
Both books tell the authentic story about a terrible living nightmare that I went through with my children.
I was living as a single parent after a traumatic marriage and a terrible divorce. I went through the court-system and got custody of my children when they were not even 3 years old—they are twins. When my children were 4 years old, my ex-wife accused me of abusing my children, and my hometown county of Herning acted upon these accusations and put them in an institution.
After one week everybody knew—including the county—that it was not true, but the county wouldn’t admit that they were doing wrong, so I had to fight the system for eight months to get my children back home.
I won the battle at the end, but we were all damaged, both my children and I.
I also have a book in my drawer, which is pure fiction. That book is about murder and crime.
NWM 8): Dylan or Cohen?
Bruno: That would be Dylan. Love his early songs, his protest-song and, well, his big influence on Springsteen.
NWM 9): You won Best Country Song Award at Clouzine International Music Awards fall 2020. Please tell us about this and your award-winning song.
Bruno: I recorded the song ‘A World Tomorrow’ in the spring of 2019, released on streaming in July. At first I didn’t really know what to do with it other than sharing it on Facebook.
After having moved to Zealand, I met poet Kasper Mechlenburg and we started writing songs in Danish. Our first single ‘Turbopigen,’ was released in May 2020, and I mailed it to radio stations in Denmark. That song was played on a bunch of local radios in Denmark and even got on the charts in some of them.
And then I thought, ‘Why not mail ‘A World Tomorrow’ to those same radios?’ They played my song, and I started to look for airplay on radios in other countries—and it worked. ‘A World Tomorrow’ got on the charts on UK-Independent and Banks Radio in Australia.
One day I saw that Clouzine asked for songs for consideration for their award. I mailed my song to Clouzine, and I got the award for Best Country Song.
The song is about hope in dark times—at least for me.
NWM 10): Who might we be surprised to find on your playlist?
Bruno: I guess you might be surprised to find Lady Gaga and Kylie Minogue on my playlist. I love most kinds of music. I believe there is a time for almost any genre, and pop-music is often on my playlist.
NWM 11): You are an author and social worker. Please elaborate on these aspects of your life.
Bruno: When I stopped teaching and picked up my music, I had to make a living of something. So I started working in a factory producing kitchen-doors.
When I moved to Zealand, I got my eyes on the jobs that were available in homes and small institutions for people with mental illness.
Every single human being deserves support and respect—and that is what I try to do when I am working as a social worker.
I have been in that type of job for two years now—and I find it very meaningful. I guess this job makes a great connection with my general ‘love of the underdog.’ I don’t think that many would know how hard-working people with mental illness really are. They work hard every day—sometimes just to get out of bed in the morning.
I have met some of the most empathetic and creative people in my life in this job. Every single human being deserves support and respect—and that is what I try to do when I am working as a social worker.
NWM 12): What has been a particularly memorable or rewarding experience of your career so far?
Bruno: I must say that it was a surrealistic feeling listening to my own song on the radio for the first time. That was a dream come true. In the beginning I listened every time my songs got airplay. Now I just can’t keep up with it, but it really makes me happy when a radio-host says, ‘Yes, I will play your song on my show.’ I guess that is all what this is about—not only to write songs and record them, but also that someone out there really likes it so much that it gets on air.
And I really enjoy having found a career where opinion is accepted as subjective. There is no evidence, science, or statistics involved—either you like the song or you don’t—and you even don’t have to explain why, other than it doesn’t fit in the frame.
NWM 13): What message, if any, is integral to your work?
Bruno: I think one of my messages would be that no one can predict the future. That is why you shouldn’t live in the future. Be careful about what you wish for—it might come true.
No one can fully control what is going to happen tomorrow. You have to stay in the moment and look at what you’ve got and work with that. You can plan all you want, but nothing is certain. One day you can fall on the street and hurt your knee, and the next day you can win in the lottery. You can set a course, but you can’t control or predict in detail. Life is about how you cope with good times and bad times—accepting that both elements are a part of a lifetime experience.
NWM 14): Please share some about The Springsteen Show.
Bruno: When I started doing gigs in 2017, a big part of my material was Springsteen songs. One day I met this guy, Neal Ashley Conrad. He heard me sing a bunch of Springsteen songs, and he went up to me and said, ‘Hey, I do lectures talking about Springsteen and his work. Maybe we can hook up—you can sing and play the songs that I am talking about.’
Neal has a PhD in Literature and we went on performing our show, always developing it from place to place. As time went by, I got to do much more talking since I could put Springsteen’s songs into a historical frame due to my major in American History.
We travelled around Denmark for one year with The Springsteen Show, performing in various places—churches, libraries, bars, and university.
We did our last show in Copenhagen on Springsteen’s 70th birthday in 2019. Since then my own songs have taken over in my musical career.
NWM 15): What song/album could you play on repeat?
Bruno: There are many of them, but if I should pick one out it would be Unmasked by Kiss. That is pure rock ‘n’ roll.
NWM 16): Weirdest show?
Bruno: My weirdest show would be when I went to play a gig in the summer of 2020 with my buddy Kasper Mechlenburg. We performed as ‘Låste Døre’ (Locked Doors). We went to play at a festival—standing on the back of a big truck in a parking-lot with people sitting in their cars listening on their radio. That was weird.
NWM 17): What are your non-musical gifts/talents?
Bruno: I would say stamina and persistence. It has helped me through difficult times, helped me to survive—and now it feels like it is helping me in my career. Sometimes you hit a wall and you have to find a way around it—it might be a long walk, but knowing that no wall is endless, you have to start walking.
In that respect, it might be fun to think that I did race-walking for some 10 years, taking a couple of medals in the national championships of Denmark—and even one performance on the national team in 20k. That was indeed a long walk.
I did race-walking for some 10 years, taking a couple of medals in the national championships of Denmark …
NWM 18): If you could see anyone from throughout history perform who would it be?
Bruno: That would be Louis Armstrong. Even if it was just for the few minutes it would take to hear him sing ‘What a Wonderful World.’ There is a sadness in it—and then at the same time there is a deep beauty.
NWM 19): What is one thing you would want our readers to know about you that we might not know to ask?
Bruno: That would be my passion for film and movies. I am a big fan of TV-Shows like Criminal Minds and CSI. And my favorite [director] would be Tarantino. That is a passion which I share with my kids.
NWM 20): What’s next for Bruno Skibbild?
Bruno: Up next for Bruno Skibbild (work[ing] in the studio with the band at OakMountainBlackSwamp) is a new EP on the way with ‘Låste Døre’ in Danish. The EP will be called ‘Lånte Drømme’ (Borrowed Dreams). It will be launched in 2021 for sure.
Up next for Bruno Skibbild–Solo (only me and my western guitar) is a new EP in the making. That EP has the title-song ‘Good Things Take Time,’ which will be launched in 2021.
The lyrics will take the listener through the pain and disaster from the times where my hometown county of Herning damaged my children and me. The title-song is written by my daughter, Laura Mena, and she will do backup-vocals along with my son, Jonathan, who already did some backup vocals on ‘Long Walk.’ It’s all about taking the most painful feelings—and lifting them up into songs—and the vibe of guitar and rock/country will continue.
Born and raised in a small-town, Snejbjerg in Denmark, Bruno Skibbild got his first guitar from his sister when he was in 7th grade—and he has been playing guitar and singing ever since. At 16, Bruno played in local band, M87, where he wrote his own songs, performing at various places in the neighbourhood. After taking a Master’s Degree in American History, Bruno Skibbild spent many years teaching in highschool, junior college, and elementary school. Bruno spent his time bringing up his twin children, and in 2017, he went back to his original track of music, singing and playing Springsteen songs around Denmark in The Springsteen Show along with Neal Ashley Conrad PhD.
Bruno took his old songs from his younger days out of the drawer and wrote them all over again for recording purposes. In 2019, Bruno Skibbild finally recorded his first single “A World Tomorrow”—written when he was 16—recorded more than 30 years later. In 2020, Bruno released his second single “Long Walk.” While Bruno Skibbild listened to Kiss and Springsteen through the years all the way back from when he started, his own style—when it comes out in the studio at OakMountainBlackSwamp in Copenhagen—is rock/country.
Rock on! And more to come!
You may enjoy our previous 20:20 with Lauren Mascitti
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