Norwegian avant-garde icon Jenny Hval is no stranger to the otherworldly. Since the 2013 release of her breakthrough album, Innocence is Kinky, Hval has melded experimental vocals with piercing guitars and unorthodox rhythms. In 2016, she released Blood Bitch, a vampiric concept album that’s at once spine-tinglingly creepy, romantic, and totally catchy.
For the past seven years, Hval has toured around the world with the help of Håvard Volden, a fellow Oslo native whose acoustic guitar experimentation took center stage alongside Hval’s distinctive vocals on the pair’s 2012 album Nude on Sand.
They recently debuted their latest collaboration under the name Lost Girls, an EP called Feeling. To celebrate the release, the duo took the time to meditate on how they’d soundtrack their departure from this mortal coil. “Probably in a tour car crash,” Hval predicts. “It can’t be that normal, you know what I mean?” Visualizing their off-beat funeral, Hval remarks, “I imagine the songs being so weird that people have no idea what to feel or what to do. So I keep imagining people with very confused faces, like this is something they have to go through.”
“I Don’t Care About Sleep Anymore,” Harry Pussy
HAVARD VOLDEN: I would like to have this at my funeral, for sure. I mean first of all the title of the song is very funny.
JENNY HVAL: I don’t think you care about sleeping when you’re dead. Although, there’s also a terrible song called “Sleep When I’m Dead,” which we won’t play.
VOLDEN: No. The sound of the recording is just so raw, with his guitar playing and the vocals. It’s very beautiful, I think. I wish the song could be much longer, like 50 minutes.
HVAL: I like the idea of opening with music that sounds so different. It’s a lo-fi recording but in a really beautiful way, like a cassette recording. Everything is peaking. I like the idea of this room that doesn’t sound natural as the sound of a funeral playlist. Which is definitely from a place that’s more like reality.
“Un jour… la mort,” Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes
HVAL: I’ve been obsessed with this album for a while, so it was mainly just choosing the song with death in the title [laughs]. One of the reasons why it’s cool to have it there is if you do have a playlist for a funeral, if some of the songs are very long it’s going to be kind of confusing and weird. A lot of space to listen. I imagine that this song is more about wanting to say to the audience that a funeral is not just about the deceased, it’s also about the people present. You’re also gonna die, so let’s all step into this death … together, and all be joined because you’re also gonna die. It’s like a friendly reminder that you can’t be too sad, because you’re also dying.
MURNIGHAN: The song is definitely a journey in that way. It eases you into it.
HVAL: Yeah, it’s a medley.
VOLDEN: A medley of death.
“Old Friends,” Lasse Marhaug
HVAL: Hopefully by the time we die [Lasse] is going to be our very old friend. We would want him to play live, partly to torment him [laughs]. I think that would be a really weird and kind of awful gig, especially because he plays noise music. Sometimes when he performs, he breaks stuff. He did this performance for kids where he played well-known records on vinyl and then started throwing them, and the kids would love it. So maybe something like that would be great.
VOLDEN: Maybe with our record?
HVAL: Kill our record! That would be excellent.
“Jetsun Mila,” Eliane Radigue
HVAL: This is an incredibly long song if you play all of it. It’s 84 minutes in total. I’ve listened to this very much—sometimes all of it, sometimes various parts, sometimes just the opening—because I’ve been writing to it. Also listening to it without writing, obviously, but it’s one of the few pieces I can listen to and write. I think it’s one of those music pieces that can become a creative voice in your head and actually influence you to do something you didn’t think you could. I guess it’s meditative in that way; it can actually bring something out that’s different.
VOLDEN: If I was dead this is something I would like to be in my coffin.
HVAL: Yeah, I’m hoping that death is this piece, that would make me happy.
“You Must Be Certain of the Devil,” Diamanda Galas
HVAL: I listened to this as a kid, and I always thought it was from TV. I imagined it to actually be from a game show. I think I might’ve had a screwed up idea of gospel music and thought it was TV music [laughs]. It does sound almost like the televangelist from hell. It has that spiritual energy of gospel, but it rips it out. It’s very cathartic, but it’s also very critical of the whole ritual of, say, game show televangelist Christianity.
“Deg Aldri Tilbake,” Lillebjørn Nilsen
HVAL: This is one of the most famous Norwegian artists from our childhood. I love his music. Obviously, this is a very ’80s sounding, which might be very strange because you don’t know the words, but I’m not sure it’s really that interesting to translate. Whenever people say, “But the lyrics are really good,” and you translate them, it’s like, “Uh, really?” [laughs]. It doesn’t necessarily read that well because it’s meant to be with the music.
If you translate, it’s “Don’t Look Back” or “Never Look Back,” and as a kid, I always imagined it as like, when you go to die, “don’t look back.” Although it might not be about that, really. It might be about divorce. But there are a lot of phrases about waves, and going into the sea. I always imagined a person going to meet their death at the sea. It’s a little bit like the Kate Bush track, the last track on her Hounds of Love album, but very different sounding, and Norwegian [laughs].
“Kathik Nganggo Nglirik,” Street Musicians of Yogyakarta
VOLDEN: We bought this record a couple years ago in Portland, I think.
HVAL: At the best record store, Exiled records. I follow them on Instagram. [laughs]
VOLDEN: It’s just so beautiful. It’s not about death at all. I think it’s a love song or something, but the way she sings is just so honest and beautiful. It sounds very … I don’t know, pure.
“Space is the Place,” Sun Ra
VOLDEN: This would be a great ending to a funeral. For me, it’s very happy music.
HVAL: And it’s happy in a destructive way. I mean not in that sense. When I say destructive I actually mean something very different. That sounds so negative. It just transforms everything. Transcendent, rather than destructive. I’m just so goth [laughs]. This moment, and you said it earlier today Håvard, it’s just such a non-macho free jazz transformation.
VOLDEN: Yeah, exactly.
HVAL: If there’s anything you’d want to dance to it’d be something like that. It does sort of create this fantastic opportunity, this sci-fi opportunity for the world to change.
LOST GIRLS LATEST EP FEELING (SMALLTOWN SUPERSOUND) IS AVAILABLE NOW.
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