An Interview with Jenny Wilson

Jenny Wilson is a Swedish singer-songwriter whose latest record Hardships! is on my playlist recently. From folk, disco, and R&B, she's released two albums, 2005's Love and Youth and 2009's Hardships! She now works on her new record which is a secret for now.

Interview by Bulut Imre: 2 September 2010

First of all, thanks for your amazing record “Hardships!” and combining large variety elements in your music R&B to rock, soul to electronic. Honestly I have listened to your album over and over again, however it was the first time I saw your colourful video of “Fading Like A Rainbow” that was the begining for me loving your music. How have you made your look so influential, your costumes always match very well with your idiosyncratic music?

Every part makes sense, and helps to reach the very core of my music! I have always been very involved in everything that comes with the music - the costumes, the pictures, the videos, the covers, the light we use on stage etc etc.

I work with a Swedish artist, Pia Sandström, and she's been designing almost all of the costumes I've used for the passed five years. We have a wonderful and creative process in her studio, where we drink a lot of black coffee and talk about small things and big things meanwhile I stand with weird cretions draped on my body!

I know you spent your whole time with the family after “Love and Youth”. Some musicians release too many records, that you almost can’t always follow them. Do you think musicians should have a break sometimes to create something sharper or fresher?

For me it's important to live that other life, the life that is far from the one one you live in the studio or in a tour bus! I find my most important inspirations in that "other" life!

Like in your lyrics “The Wooden Chair”, “Love and Youth, “Love Ain’t Just A Four Letter Word”, you actually tell many things that most people ignore, but which are very true. What do you think about songs that can lead people to face facts that they cannot normally face in their life?

Thank you. Art has the responsibility to be mind opening. Otherwise it's not good art. I work very hard with the pad and the pen, I always try to challenge my self lyricwise. Even if my main goal never is to be mind opening, I have to write from a perspective that alows new twists on these very ordinary, every day things. It's an act of egoism and instinct of self-preservation, I guess! A way of keeping my own interest up for my own songs. I know that I will have to live with them for a very long time, so the more I work with them, the longer they last, I suppose!

“Harships!” sounds more mature and aware of the world than ““Love And Youth” which also hit me once I listen to it. Why did you want to create an album that reminds us of war scenes and motherhood?

I started to think about two very separated topics - motherhood and war - when I just had my second baby. I was more or less haunted by scenes that had to do with this. My visions were really strong, but almost dreamlike - I felt something extraordinarily strong, but I didn't understand what it meant...

Musically I was very curious about writing songs with a r'n'b touch, even if I never really had been into that kind of music before. I thought it might be an interesting meltdown to mix some kind of hip hop nerve with parts of Nina Simones spirits. Anyway, every time I started to sing to my new melodies, all that came out of me was stories about motherhood and war.

At first I thought that these two didn't make any sense together. I was almost a bit scared of writing about it, I didn't know any other artists that was dealing with it...

It was a long journey to come to the conclusion that these topics actually worked very well together.

I read that you are infuenced a little from Missy Elliot while you were recording your first solo “Love and Youth”. Then, you did not listen to much music when recording “Harships!”, What was the biggest change in your music inflences, if any, to make this record?

Well, I did listen to music when I worked with Hardships!, but more like a scientist who had to analyse and inspect a lot of different syles in music. I fell in love with a lot of Ethiopian music, some very old r'n'b-cottonfield-music, parts of the east cost hip hop scene, etc.

But I think that what was the most important for my writing actually was to dig into the world of poetry... I found a Swedish poet, Sonja Åkesson, very popular in the 60's and 70's here in Sweden. Her books became my bible.

I first discovered Jenny Wilson by you contributing to a song by The Knife “You Take My Breath Away”, Do you like every kind of music or is there any style you dislike?

Ha ha, there is a lot of music that I can't stand! I almost never listen at the radio, since I think there is too much meaningless crap going on there! It's true that I love a lot of styles, but still there is more out there that I find disgusting. I am pretty picky.

I heard from your previous interviews that you have already started to write new songs. What influences you when writing lyrics?

Bob Marley is the first name that comes up when you ask me. But don't expect the next Jenny Wilson to sound like SURVIVOR!

In my personal opinion, music blogs help bands and artists. Do you follow any music blogs yourself?

No. I am unfashionable. I listen to mixtapes and vinyl records and don't mind all the bloggers, even if I'm convinced that there is a lot of amazing writers out there on the net.

Your pictures and artworks are very intresting and charming. Who takes your pictures?

I've been working a lot with a friend of mine, Anders Kylberg. But also a french filmmaker, Raphaël Neal who made the magical blue pictues for the PASS ME THE SALT maxi

If you were not a musician, what you would like to do as job?

Hard quesion! I guess I would've been an artist or maybe a poet, but then I presumably would have to work part time as something else to keep me from starving!

When will we have a chance to see you in London?

Next year I hope!

Jenny Wilson songs we highly recommend:
1- Love and Youth (from Love and Youth 2005)
2- The Wooden Chair (from Hardships! 2009)
3- Like A Fading Rainbow (from Hardships! 2009)
4- Clattering Hooves (from Hardships! 2009)
5- A Hesitating Cloud of Despair (from Love and Youth 2005)

Jenny Wilson Website


Music for Songwriters on 3:46 pm said...

Jenny Wilson has always been one of my favorite female artists around...soulful and real and very talented...cant wait for her album to come out...

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