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Interview: Bleeding out with Jenny Hval

Jenny Hval | photo by Jenny Berger Myhre | courtesy of the artist
Jenny Hval | photo by Jenny Berger Myhre | courtesy of the artist

Jenny Hval is smart as hell. The kind of smart that makes you want to know everything she knows about art and life. Over her recent run of records, she’s explored issues of gender politics and sexuality in a manner that’s as playful as it is provocative. Her latest and maybe greatest effort, Blood Bitch, continues to investigate both through what is arguably one of their most primal and oddly taboo sources: menstrual blood. While some might be unfortunately quick to turn away from such subject matter, Hval expands on it to explore ideas of identity and eternity, all in the form of some of her more accessible yet challenging songs yet. See? Smart.

She’ll be showing off those smarts live at PhilaMOCA this week. I had the privilege of chatting her up beforehand, discussing her influences for the record, getting awesome film and book recommendations, and reflecting on how she brings her ideas to life on stage. Continue reading →

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Jenny Hval: Avoiding Balance

Jenny Hval | Photo via facebook.com/jennyhval
Jenny Hval | Photo via facebook.com/jennyhval

There’s a death-defying, almost acrobatic quality to the post-millennially tense pop of Norway’s Jenny Hval. On two critically adored releases, 2013’s Innocence is Kinky and this year’s Apocalypse, girl, Hval traffics almost exclusively in charged elements—both sonic and philosophical. To witness Hval’s avant-songs unfold is akin to watching an escape artist set up seemingly impossible parameters only to elude total catastrophe with grace and style.

Hval’s music is built on extended vocal techniques, vintage R&B-style interstitial monologues, and molten noise, but there’s a fundamental rock n’ roll giddiness that her work elicits: “Is she going to pull this off? How is she going to pull this off?” The synthesis seems scientifically proven to lure the listener into a total body experience where one can be gently (and sometimes not so gently) provoked. Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Parker Millsap, W. C. Lindsay and more

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W. C. Lindsay brought his genre jumping electro-punk in for a Key Studio Session, recording a handful of tracks off of his new LP Easy Victim, Charitable Deceptions, which will be released on Big Footprints records in April.  Stream and download “Little Ghost” below and get the full set here.

New electronic / pop trio Bondage & Discipline shared their debut single “Only Your Love.”  The dichotomy in their name is mirrored in the song’s instrumentation and arrangement, with bright synths blending with distant guitars.  Stream and download it below.

Bucks County’s Jeremiah Tall has released a new song called “Penn’s Woods.”  The one-man band uses a guitar and a suitcase re-appropriated as a drum to perform his roots / Americana songs like the one below.  Stream and download “Penn’s Woods” below.

Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Jenny Hval recorded this week’s Folkadelphia Session.  The boundary breaking artist and poet showed her alternative approach to storytelling on last year’s Innocence is Kinky, using “shocking imagery, provocative language and music to match” to get her point across.  Stream and download the live session below.

Thursday’s My Morning Download featured Oklahoma musician Parker Millsap.  The 20 year old recently released his self-titled debut, which was spotlighted by Folk Alley’s Kim Ruehl on NPR Music’s Heavy Rotation.  Stream and download “Truck Stop Gospel” below.

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Folkadelphia Session: Jenny Hval


Sawtooth synthesizers, moody atmospherics, effected vocals, hypnotic drum patterns – these are not the elements that you normally associate with folk music or singer-songwriters. But there is nothing normal about the times that we’re living in. I know I frequently get on this blog-shaped pulpit and preach about how the boundaries of genre are too constricting in an age where musicians are blending, mashing, mixing, and manipulating sounds. Swap out a banjo for a drum machine, what’s the big deal?

Enter Jenny Hval, a Norwegian artist, musician, and poet, who brings along those synths and effected vocals and everything else to create sounds that are extraordinary. So what’s she doing on our show? Good question. Besides bringing you a platform to hear up-and-coming folk acts, we also want to inform you about truly imaginitive and smart songwriters. Last year when I heard Jenny Hval’s Innocence Is Kinky, I knew we had found an exciting artist and that you, dear reader, needed to hear her. Be advised: Hval doesn’t pull punches – she goes right for the gut with her words. Her songs have a penchant for shocking imagery, provocative language, and raw music to match (as well as potentially NSFW visuals). I’m not sure what you’ll feel listening to her music, but you’ll definitely feel something. I think that’s a rare quality nowadays and we’re here to celebrate it.

Jenny Hval recorded this Folkadelphia Session on November 8th, 2013 before her show at the Boot & Saddle. She returns to Philadelphia on May 15th to support Swans at Union Transfer.

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Treasured songwriter Diane Cluck and the boundary pushing Jenny Hval, tonight on Folkadelphia

Photo by Scott Yates
Photo by Scott Yates

Diane Cluck has long been a treasured songwriter for those of us who are in the know. With Boneset, her first album in eight years, I hope those of us in the know will outnumber those of us who are not.

Folkadelphia will be presenting Diane Cluck’s Philadelphia concert on Saturday, March 22nd at Rigby Mansion, a literal mansion residence in the Germantown area. Joining the bill are Amanda Jo Williams (who we’ve previously featured on the radio) and Mike Tamburo. Learn more info. about the concert here and email fred@folkadelphia.com for details.

Listen to “Why Feel Alone?” from Boneset

On this episode of Folkadelphia, we’re pleased to premiere the in-studio session with Norwegian artist Jenny Hval. Hval and her music are often described with rousing terminology – provoking, incendiary, shocking, agitating. Her most recent album Innocence Is Kinky is a whirlwind ride of operatic vocalizing, encompassing synthesizer sounds, and stormy atmosphere. What really drew us to Hval is her commanding presence and the way she stands out admist the chaos. The way that Hval pushes against the strict boundaries of easy genre classification is entrancing and admirable. Jenny Hval returns to Philadelphia to open for Swans at Union Transfer on May 15th.

Watch Jenny Hval’s recent performance for WNYC’s Soundcheck:
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