Track Of The Day: Jenny Hval – ‘Ashes To Ashes’

Sacred Bones signee Jenny Hval has shared her new single ‘Ashes To Ashes’ and it’s an uplifting electronic affair. The track is taken from her upcoming album, The Practice of Love, which is set for release on 13th September.

The Norwegian multidisciplinary artist blends gentle vocals, startling lyrics, and deceptively catchy beats to communicate issues of morality on her new record. It sits in stark contrast to her 2016 album Blood Bitch, and features the voices of collaborators Vivian Wang, Laura Jean Englert, and Félicia Atkinson.

Speaking about her new album and the themes it encompasses, Hval explains: “This all sounds very clichéd, like a standard greeting card expression, but for me love, and the practice of love, has been deeply tied to the feeling of otherness. Love as a theme in art has been the domain of the canonized, big artists, and I have always seen myself as a minor character, a voice that speaks of other things. But in the last few years I have wanted to take a closer look at the practice of otherness, this fragile performance, and how it can express love, intimacy, empathy and desire. I have wanted to ask bigger, wider, kind of idiotic questions like: What is our job as a member of the human race? Do we have to accept this job, and if we don’t, does the pressure to be normal ever stop?”

She may be humble about the impact of her voice in the wider industry, but we believe in the power of Jenny Hval’s vision and we’re excited to join her on her journey through love and otherness. Listen to ‘Ashes To Ashes’ below and follow Jenny Hval on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order Jenny Hval’s upcoming album The Practice of Love here.

Photo credit: Lasse Marhaug

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

INTERVIEW: Hilary Woods

When news reached our ears that Dublin-based artist Hilary Woods had signed to Sacred Bones – a label which hosts our favourites Zola Jesus, Jenny Hval and The Soft Moon – our excitement for her debut album, Colt, gave us palpitations. Both Woods (formerly a member of JJ72) and Sacred Bones have a reputation for releasing altruistic sounds, so the pairing felt like a divine meeting of musical talent and opportunity.

Hyperbole aside, it’s clear from singles ‘Inhaler’ and ‘Prodigal Dog’ that Hilary Woods’ debut LP is going to be an exquisite, but painful listen. Soaked in stark, minimalist, ambient electronic sounds that explore feelings surrounding grief & abandonment, her melancholic music is the perfect fit for venues like St. Pancras Old Church, which she headlines on 11th June (tickets available here).

We caught up with the artist to talk about her anticipations for this show, her multi-disciplinary creativity, and what went in to the making of her debut album…

Hello Hilary! You’ve released your latest single ‘Prodigal Dog’ from your upcoming album Colt. Can you tell us a little bit about what went in to the making of this track, and why you chose to release it as a single?

I made the album without thinking of singles, pretty naïve really! But I think when ‘Prodigal Dog’ was suggested as a single, it made sense. This was the first track I recorded in the record making process, bringing it to James we spent a lot of time on drum sounds and enjoyed layering vocals.

Your debut album has been described as “an intensely personal journey through grief, abandonment, and mutating love”. How did you manage to translate these emotions in to lyrics and music? Do you have a particular process when it comes to song-writing that you follow, or is it a more chaotic affair?

I’d say both, usually songs either arise after a lot of playing around and experimenting, or they just appear like a bolt. I think emotions and feeling are translated in any given process whether subconsciously or consciously.

You recently signed to Sacred Bones to release your debut album. What is it about the record label in particular that drew you in? They’re on the ball when it comes to modern electronic music. Zola Jesus, Jenny Hval & The Soft Moon in particular are our favourites (and you of course)…

Thank you! I love their aesthetic, integrity and taste, that’s what drew me in, I’m a fan of many of my label mates.

You were a film, literature and fine-art student back in Dublin. Your music is intensely cinematic and your visuals are highly ornate: did studying a variety of subjects help you to develop your own sound and style easier than if you’d simply chosen to study one specific thing? Would you recommend a multi-disciplinary approach to other creatives?

I don’t know if I’d recommend anything! Everyone is on their own trajectory. In my case I was curious. I liked getting my hands dirty and the physicality of painting. Re studies: I went to college to get out of the house, literally. I needed some structure at that point in my life and I was lucky enough to be awarded some funding to go. It was all a bonus then to be super excited by what I encountered and be inspired by the material I was reading and seeing.

You described Colt as a way to “explore aloneness”, which is particularly poignant as many people use music to escape this feeling. What artists or bands do you listen to when you want to feel less alone?

Gosh, I think a good definition of a good film is one which makes you feel less alone, Music wise: I genuinely don’t have one specific answer to that, anything from Sybille Baier to Jlin to Father John Misty and beyond.

You have two upcoming London shows: St Pancras Old Church on June 11th, and Southbank’s Meltdown Festival with Moon Duo on 20th June. What are you anticipating from these gigs?

I’m looking forward to them, they’ll be intimate and atmospheric.

Finally, you’ll be playing at The Sugar Club in Dublin on 14th September. It’s a hometown show, so are you anticipating something extra special from the night?

It’s always different playing at home, feels more vulnerable if anything. It’s a beautiful space with the best of promoters and a great PA and some good friends helping out. I have some plans for it, it’ll definitely be a special one for me.

Huge thanks to Hilary for answering our questions.
Colt is released via Sacred Bones on 8th June. Pre-order your copy here.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Jenny Hval – ‘Spells’

Following 2016’s critically acclaimed Blood Bitch, Norwegian multi-disciplinary artist and GIHE fave, Jenny Hval, returns with news of an eagerly awaited new EP, The Long Sleep. Exploring the art of composition, all of the songs on the EP recycle the same compositional motives, but manipulate them into very different shapes that take them further and further out of their original, “life-like” context.

Taken from the EP is new single ‘Spells’. With rich, orchestral layers of sound providing the backdrop to Hval’s sweeping, honey-sweet vocals, it builds to a majestic cinematic anthem, oozing a soaring grandeur that’ll captivate on first listen. Somewhat more melodic and catchy than her previous, more abstract, offerings, ‘Spells’ will indeed cast its spell over you with its obscure, ethereal beauty.

With this latest single, Hval has once again shown herself to be an utterly unique and innovative artist, capable of creating truly spellbinding, epic soundscapes.

Hval recorded The Long Sleep with longtime collaborator Håvard Volden and producer Lasse Marhaug, along with a range of musicians including Kyrre Laastad on percussion, Anja Lauvdal on piano, Espen Reinertsen on saxophone, and Eivind Lønning on trumpet.

The Long Sleep, the upcoming EP from Jenny Hval, is out 25th May via Sacred Bones. And catch Jenny Hval live at St John on Bethnal Green on 5th June. 

Mari Lane
@marimindles