Educate Your Ears: Jenny Hval

An interview with Jenny Hval! In recent years Jenny Hval has made a name for herself as a writer, journalist, recording artist and sound artist both in Norway and abroad. When her third record ‘Viscera’ was released in 2011, it was described the record as: “a stunning achievement both conceptually and musically.” Multidisciplinary and transgressive are words often employed to describe her art, but Jenny Hval’s polyphonic artistry is in fact seamlessly interwoven between musical, literary, visual and performative modes of expression. Despite her young age, she has already infused, carved and modulated an artistic voice that is altogether present, accessible and obscurely complex at the same time. Her fifth album, ‘Apocalypse, girl’ (2015), was recorded with producer Lasse Marhaug, and released June 9, 2015 by Sacred Bones and Su Tissue (Norway). KALTBLUT caught up with Jenny after her time in Berlin.

KALTBLUT: Where did you grow up?
Jenny: Mostly in Tvedestrand, Norway.

KALTBLUT: Were there many opportunities for aspiring artists there?
Jenny: None! It is a tiny, tiny town.

KALTBLUT: Were you involved in any musical projects when you were younger?
Jenny: Everything from the School Marching Band to goth band to pop band. Even a cover band, a very long time ago.


KALTBLUT: You studied creative writing in University, what brought you toward music?
Jenny: I was already doing music first, my first bands were already in high school. I also processed everything I studied by writing music. I’d learn about complex philosophy and performance at University, and write lyrics about it all to very simple music pieces at home.

KALTBLUT: Do you find that music has overtaken writing, or are they balanced?
Jenny: I only do music now, rarely anything else. I don’t really work very balanced.

KALTBLUT: What book could you read over and over again?
Jenny: So many! It’s summer, so I’ll say ‘The Waves’ by Virginia Woolf. She wrote summer like no one else.

KALTBLUT: Is it true that you wrote your thesis on Kate Bush? What is it about her that you found so interesting?
Jenny: Yes, it’s true, my masters. What I found interesting: How many pages have you got?

KALTBLUT: Do you have a favourite lyric of hers?
Jenny: Too many to mention. I wrote a lot about ‘The Sensual World’, though.

KALTBLUT: What would you do if you were given the chance to work with Kate?
Jenny: Probably just die on the spot, so it would never happen.

KALTBLUT: You’ve produced several other albums, will this one be a continuation of a pattern or something completely new?
Jenny: I didn’t produce this album, but perhaps you’re not talking about music production but how this album is something new or continuing something? Anyway, I think others judge this better than I do. It’s generally impossible, as well as boring, to try to think of creativity as something entirely new. The blank slate stays empty.

KALTBLUT: What was the catalyst that made you want to create your most recent album?
Jenny: Karaoke videos on YouTube. Neoliberalism. Cult films.

KALTBLUT: Do you feel your music has been received well, or been taken completely the wrong way?
Jenny: Is there a wrong way? I’d say both.

KALTBLUT: How do you convert your sound into moving image when it comes to making your videos?  
Jenny: I don’t make my own videos so I’ve never had to think about that. Thankfully!

KALTBLUT: Do you have any new projects coming up?
Jenny: No.

KALTBLUT: Where are you touring this year?
Jenny: All around America & Canada, then back to Europe in the fall.

Apocalypse, girl is out now on Sacred Bones Records