ABOVE: KIM KYLLAND
Naming a band is a tricky business. For Ghost Town Jenny, the inspiration for their name came from a photo found in a box of abandoned images from the 1920s to the 1970s. Vocalist Kim Kylland saw the inscription of “Ghost Town Jenny” on a rocking chair with an elderly woman sitting in it (and she’d love if someone related to the woman in the photo would reach out to her one day). The California-based trio formed back in 2009 and put out their last EP, The Swan, in 2011. Since then, the band has re-vamped their sound, mixing elements of electronica and folk.
We’re excited to premiere Ghost Town Jenny’s new EP Golden Hour below. Sweet and spooky, Kylland’s vocals are accompanied by the sound of a stirring violin. After putting out two EPs, the band is ready for a full-length, which they’ll be working on this year.
We spoke with Kylland on evolving their Ghost Town Jenny’s sound, touring in Ireland, and the weirdness of Joni Mitchell.
HOMETOWN: Oakland, CA
BAND MEMBERS: Kim Kylland, Johan Svensson, Corey Christopher Mike
WORLD TIES: I met Corey, our violinist, first. I was working in Berkley at a café when I was going to school there. He was also working there. We just started playing together. I don’t really remember how it happened. We were both musicians, and we just tried it out. It was a perfect fit. It worked out and we kept on after that. Johan, I actually met at a music festival in Denmark in 2007. We wrote letters for a number of years. He lived in Sweden and I lived in California. He eventually moved out here and we’ve been together ever since!
2014 PLANS: We’ve only put out two EPs so far. We’ve put out a live EP, but I don’t really count that because it was our free one. We haven’t done an LP yet. That’s our goal for 2014.
THE GOLDEN HOUR: I feel like Golden Hour represents what we actually sound like a little bit better. The last EP was very much a studio project. We did everything in pieces and layers—it was not really what we were doing live at the time. We tried to emulate it live, but it never felt the same. It’s a lot more electronic and there’s a lot going on instrumentation-wise. We tried to re-create it at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. We brought a lot of people on tour with us, and it was really fun, but it made me realize it wasn’t really my sound. It felt like I was trying to imitate music I liked, but I wasn’t making music coming from inside of me. This EP is a lot more mine. It really sounds like what we actually sound like live. We tried to do as much as we could live, because we’ve come to find we’re a band that does better in a live setting. We are more comfortable playing live as opposed to individual tracking. I kind of hate doing it like that; it always feels so unnatural. We tried to make it feel really natural and really live with this EP.
FINDING A MUSICAL PATH: I have so much trouble saying if I’m singer-songwriter folk or electronica. I feel like I do it all at some capacity. This EP represents who we are. If you go to a live show of ours, you can hear what’s on the EP. It’s not really that I feel like we were an electronic band on the last EP and we’re a singer-songwriter act on this one, I think we have elements of it all. I don’t ever want to limit it. I think it’s just more what we actually sound like. I think we’re getting closer and closer to achieving a sound we’re proud of in the studio. With the full-length we’re doing this year, I hope to get even closer to that.
MUSES: Like everyone else, there are a lot of other musicians who influence me. I try to stay away from talking about that in interviews. I don’t know why, to be honest. I read a lot these days. Often times I’ll be reading a novel, short story, or something non-fiction, and there will be one sentence that sets off a whole chain of ideas. My songs are generally not narratives; they’re based around things that other people have experienced. As far as musicians go, I’m probably influenced by Nick Cave. I’ve really loved him for a long time. I’ve loved the elements of light and darkness in his music. He’s probably one of the darkest musicians I’ve ever heard, [but] he’s also written these beautiful piano ballads that are full of life and love. He’s incredible. Joni Mitchell is [another] one I adore. I am generally not influenced by folk singer-songwriters. She’s just so weird. Everything about her—her whole musical world. I think I got really into her after I read that she learned how to play the guitar by turning the knobs on the guitar until the chords sounded like her emotions. I think she has such a weird composure—it’s wonderful.
BEHIND THE MUSIC: No one has asked me about it before. The songs [on Golden Hour] were not written at the same time. Every song is about something pretty different. If there was a common theme, I think it has really strong elements of homesickness, wanderlust, loss, and hope. There are a lot of opposites.
TOURING: We recently did a tour in Ireland with this guy Conor Walsh. His music is dreamy. He makes ethereal piano ballads. There’s something about his music that’s very narrative—it pulls you in. I felt really sucked in during every set. As far as who we’d like to tour with, I’d love to tour with an Irish musician called Hozier. He’s our new discovery. I felt like I hadn’t heard anything so good in so long. I hope he gets so huge because he’s so good. We’re just really into his music.
GHOST TOWN JENNY’S GOLDEN HOUR EP WILL BE OUT ON JANUARY 28.