Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Interview: Jenny Hval Gives Pop Music a Pep Talk

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Page 4 of 4

photo by Karl Edwin Scullin
  • photo by Karl Edwin Scullin

I read something that I thought was interesting about how you were specifically not interested in making music that was nostalgic. I don’t know if it’s because everything is online and everyone has access to all this music from the past, but overly nostalgic music is all over the place right now. I wonder how you go about making music that forces people to be in the present if they are sort of explicitly looking for music that makes them comfortable and nostalgic?

Well, I think that there is sometimes too much emphasis put on production, in terms of talking about nostalgia. When I talk about not wanting to make nostalgic music I do know that whatever I do is going to remind people of something. Whatever I do that makes certain people like my music, it will evoke something that they already know. I love music from different times, I love sounds, different guitar sounds, different sounds from a synthesizer, different types of keys, different blah blah blah, and it all is from some different time. But I think what becomes more dangerous is to not update the content of a song to the present. If it’s always about the past, even trying to evoke “I want to be like the singer songwriters of the 60s, and sing about exactly the same things,” that to me is really scary.

The content of the music and the artistic vision, if you will, the energy of the music, I find if it’s not in the present then that to me is just museum music. Although it can be very pretty, and although I like it sometimes, I do feel like pop music sometimes needs to take itself ...”Believe in yourself! You have a place in contemporary society! You need to belong in the world you’re in now!” But that doesn’t mean that music always has to have a certain sound or avoid certain sounds.

Is the use of frank, sexually explicit language in your songs an attempt to reflect our moment, where the Internet is putting all of this material in front of us?

Definitely, some of my album is probably just about language and how those images feel. Other parts are more about trying to understand them and trying to figure out, “Who am I if this is what I’m served? Who am I when I’m watching this that I understand is meant for a very different person than me, but I’m kind of forced into this kind of male gaze, watching porn or whatever.” It’s very existential in a way.

It’s weird, because, I think the Internet has made us realize that basically everything in the world is somebody’s strange, fetishized thing. I’m not sure we got that before.

Everything is becoming fetishized, sexualized. I’m a big fan of sexuality, but I’m more scared of this oversexualized world where it becomes, at the same time, tempting to always go to the sexual and the pornographic and the shaven and the innocent. This is Europe’s impression of America by the way, that kind of fear of sex as well. In iTunes they won’t sell a book because it has a sexual word in the title even though its a great book of high value. Or there’s a picture that has nudity in it. To me it’s strange that this happens, that you kind of can’t tell the difference between something natural and something really capitalist and mass produced. I think we can see the difference, we’re just afraid of the difference.

Follow Jeff Klngman on Twitter @jeff_klingman.

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