Norwegian musician and novelist Jenny Hval unveils a new single/video, “Freedom,” from her forthcoming album, Classic Objects, out this Friday.
Classic Objects is Hval’s version of a pop album. While there are interchangeable moments of complexity in each song, there’s a feeling of elevation and clarity in the song’s choruses. This is evident with new single “Freedom,” which unfurls with a resonating melody as Hval’s honeyed voice presciently sings: “Out there is the world//where you’re threatening the lives // of fragile individuals when you stir in the mud.// Look to the birds, // to the crowds that have dispersed//in the wounded air that we call freedom.” The song’s accompanying video is another collaboration from the trio of Hval, Annie Bielski, and Jenny Berger Mhyre following their work together on the ambitious “Year of Love” video.
“I don’t know what freedom is. This song doesn’t either. The lyrics are bombastic and silly, as if written by a political folk song generator. Nonetheless the song was needed on my record – I needed something short and sweet after a series of long, layered reflections.
“I imagine it being sung in a courtroom or in parliament when the debate gets too heated and everyone needs a break. In this imagined moment, everyone is singing in unison.
“This is the only way I can describe Freedom – as a kind of performative moment that breaks up the structure, language and ambivalence of the rest of the record. On its own, it seems weirdly clear and pure. I can’t really defend it. Or perhaps it is myself I can’t defend. The song is necessary. It just reminds me of the fact that I am not.” – Jenny Hval
“In 2020, like everyone else, I was just a private person,” says Hval. “No artists were allowed to perform. I was reduced to ‘just me.’” As a result, Hval questioned what “just me” could mean. As an exercise, Hval wrote straight-forward stories about life, investigating the stripped-down “just me” concept. When Hval started writing stories that eventually became this record, the pandemic hit and she remembered specific times in her life that felt completely stripped of value; like when a celiac diagnosis halted the start of her music career. Hval elaborates: “This made me want to write simple stories. My problem was that I found that the music component in the writing process made the words stray from their path and even jump into the absurd. I think it is just bound to happen when there is music involved. After all, a song isn’t just words, it has a melody, and the reason we have melodies is to step into the dark and jump off cliffs.”
The resulting Classic Objects is a map of places; past places, like the old empty Melbourne pubs Hval’s band used to play in, public places Hval missed throughout lockdown, imagined, future places, and impossible places where dreams, hallucinations, death and art can take you. It is interested in combining heavenly things and plain things.
Standing show. Presented by Hey! Manchester & Grey Lantern.