Paradise Rot

Paradise Rot is my first novel, originally published in Norway in 2009 as Perlebryggeriet, but now finally translated to English and published very soon – in early October – by Verso. I will be touring it a little in the US and UK as well, stay tuned for details.

Read more about the book, plus a beautiful quote by Chris Kraus, here.

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The Long Sleep

The Long Sleep EP is out! Very proud of this, perhaps especially proud of two things: The title track and all the work with textures and structure, and being able to work with some favourite musicians and people on this recording (somewhat weirdly described in the press release as Norwegian jazz musicians, for which I take full responsibility. I should have worded this differently. What is amazing about Anja Lauvdal, Håvard Volden, Kyrre Laastad, Eivind Lønning and Espen Reinertsen, is that they are not jazz musicians, they are just excellent musicians who all have a complex, nuanced and critical relationship with all music that is labelled with any type of genre. I still enjoyed having my inbox overflow with messages from friends using the words “soft dick jazz”). Anyway – below is the beautiful cover, made by visual artist extraordinaire Constance Tenvik, and the words I used as an artist statement for the EP. These words are also the lyrics of the track I Want To Tell You Something (which exists only on the digital version of the EP because it’s about streaming).

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What am I doing here? Am I communicating? Am I promoting?

I just want to tell you something.

There should be something I could tell you, there should be something I could do to reach you directly, but there is nothing useful in the way we define “you”, or “me”. There should be something I could tell you, there should be something I could say directly without lyrics and melody.

Maybe that’s what I’m trying here. Something else than lyrics or melody. It’s not the words. It’s not in the rhythm. It’s not in the streaming. It’s not in the “message”. It’s not in the product. It’s not in the algorithms. It’s not something you decided. It’s not something they decided for you.

I want to tell you something. I just want to say: Thank you. I love you.

Å hate Gud

A month ago, Oktober Forlag published my new novel, Å hate Gud. They write about it that it is “an uncompromising, reflective, playful and deeply fascinating novel about black metal and white-painted idyll, about underground movements, magic and rebellion. The narrative, the essayistic and the magical is organically woven together into a literary text that both genre-wise and by virtue of its content refuses to be boxed in.”

There you go. Cover design by the one and only Lasse Marhaug.

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LOST GIRLS

I have a new band!

LOST GIRLS is a duo with Håvard Volden (who also plays in my solo project … Why not keep things a little confusing?). The name is taken from this mind-blowing book. We’re releasing a 12″ recording in two parts soon (March 2nd, on Smalltown Supersound). Meanwhile, watch this beautiful film that our friend Jenny Berger Myhre directed. We were going for a homage to this film, but got lost, which I guess is perfect for our collaboration. And so Jenny (not me) made this instead:

More soon. A lot is happening this year.

feat.

I’ve done a few collaborations (or what is it called, I was “featured”?) over the past year that I should share with you… I have to say that these tracks are written mostly by these three marvellous musicians and producers, I merely joined in and enjoyed their art worlds…

The first one I did was for Kelly Lee Owens, who also did a fantastic rework of my track “Kingsize” two years ago…

This second one was for my almost neighbour and gem of Oslo Carmen Villain… It also lead to me writing another track, but more on that some other time…

And finally, I did some ghost story talk-singing over a Lindstrøm sketch which he then rearranged into a long, sweeping cemetery disco track…

I’m grateful and honoured to have been invited into these worlds. It has also made me think a lot, as I am asked about the lyrics for these songs on several occasions and I have mixed feelings about sharing them. These songs are mostly written by others, and so my largely improvised words are sometimes re-arranged, shuffled, or placed very carefully by others into the setting of their songs. So did I then “write the words”? I don’t necessarily feel like I have “written lyrics” for a track in this process. The “feat.” is a process of defeat, in that I surrender syllables and sounds to others, allowing them to construct something which might end up changing the meaning of what I originally did (which I many times also didn’t really know at the time). It’s an amazing process that teaches me a lot about production, pronunciation, phrasing, and poetry.

The concept of “lyrics” is not as simple as to share a file of words that is “the real meaning behind” the song. Is there ever something tangible “behind” a piece of music? I think about this after watching a Youtube clip my friend sent me where famous singers “break down” on stage and have to stop singing. In the video, the singers’ names are listed in the top-left corner, and below is an explanation, so you would see a clip of Justin Bieber crying on stage, and then the text SINGER: JUSTIN BIEBER, REASON: EMOTIONAL COMEBACK. The need to break down the breakdown puzzles me…

I might write more about this some time.

not safe for capitalism

I’m very proud to present to you my new video for The Great Undressing, which is actually a short film that was given to me by the amazing Norwegian director Marie Kristiansen. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude. Thanks to everyone who took part in this moving, daring film.

The video is spreading like fire on the internet, which I didn’t know about until last night. The selling point seems to be “see this before it’s taken down!” Perhaps because there is a form of nudity in the film. It may, with my song to accompany it, be a wonderful expression of political and personal sadness. It portrays a very casual and innocent and non-sexualised body image that existed in Scandinavia when I was growing up, but this casual nudity is being thrown into present day symbols. Where everything nude, regardless of the nature or meaning of the body, is sexualised. Where algorithms decide for us what is Not Safe For Work.

I’m thinking “NOT SAFE”? NOT SAFE IS HOW ART EXISTS. NOT SAFE FOR WORK IS THE WORK.

I’m still thinking about the fire in Oakland that happened in December every day, and I’m thinking – here we are, labelling anything NSFW, without thinking or analysing what the actual content is. While so many artists (and so many people, marginalised for capitalist reasons) and their expressions exist so far from an actual safe spaces.

I was speaking with Lasse Marhaug, who produced Blood Bitch with me, about this yesterday and he suggested a better slogan: NSFC. That’s a more meaningful tag. So I stole it from him and tweeted it: Not Safe For Capitalism.

West Coast tour begins tonight

My West Coast North American tour begins tonight. It’s strange to be touring in the middle of these pitch black political times. Hopefully, it’s also meaningful and a way of coming together. Hopefully it’s a place to really experience something.

When I made Blood Bitch, one of the most pressing thoughts was shaped by the Adam Curtis sample that plays over the track Untamed Region, which is from a documentary about, among other things, how political leaders in countries like Russia and the UK (and now also America) use theories of confusion and disillution to oppress an entire nation of people. Curtis shows how these theories are taken straight from avant-garde art movements. I was thinking: How could the strategies of so much beautiful and strange and revolutionary art movements be adapted so easily to the machines of power and capitalism? And if the work of revolutionary art is so easily adapted to power, what is the future of, and value of, contemporary art?

I think this question lead me to connect with underrated, “bad” cult movies like the films of Jess Franco. I connected with subcultural art that in many ways was considered bad art, or soft art, art that didn’t shock and was even hard to take seriously for film critics. The films are constantly compromised (by shady film production companies, producers, low budgets, and the strange, very personal desires of the filmmaker), and many of them have been seen as less powerful films. Films with lo-fi images, unrealised desires and makeshift locations and dialogues that fail to create the illusion we’ve learnt we need to believe in.

This type of art is perhaps overlooked because its strategies are too imprecise, too mundane (too human?). But perhaps this is also art that is useless to the politics of power? I was thinking to myself: What kind of desire lies in this imprecision, which possibilities? Is there something, somewhere, that power in the time of Neo-capitalism can overlook? A place to create a different language?

It sounds silly, and perhaps this was a naive search. I don’t think I’m trying to answer these questions directly on Blood Bitch. But I am going through something in these songs, emotionally and artistically, that is related to these questions. And for what it’s worth, I feel this is incredibly relevant to go through at the moment. In addition to coming together, expressing our fears and creating open, revolutionary communities.

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conceptual romance video

I just really want you to see this one.

Directed by Zia Anger
Cinematography by Jason Marlow and Billy Feldman
Production Design by Caiti Hawkins
Produced/Skin Suits by Annie Bielski

Innocence is Kinky Runner / Zia Anger
Workout Ball Woman / Jenny Hval
That Battle is Over Mother & Child / Cornelia Livingston & Georgia
Blood Bitches /  Destefano DeLuise , Julie Hackett, Shanekia McIntosh
“Artist” / Annie Bielski

Thank You: Frances Sultan, Adam Weinert, Nick & Christina, Theo Anthony

Also, Zia wrote a beautiful director’s statement:

To be reborn in a womb of dirt that once was a grave of death. When I was a tiny child I saw my mother do a performance piece where she wore a skin suit just like the ones in the video. It really disturbed me, to have others see my mother ‘naked.’

We’ve moved from complete and total censorship to a world where you can commodify your body if you resemble a certain ideal. Some people have a choice in this, others do not.

We found toy versions of some of the most oppressive, exclusive, phallic equipment there is (a drone and a steady cam) and decided to see what we could make with them.

Let’s unchain ourselves from our Instagram, our carefully curated images and self-commodification, trendy record labels, and fancy cameras.

conceptual romance

Chord changes, melodic phrases and rhythmic pulses can have mystical qualities. They can tell you things words alone couldn’t: In a flash they explain to your heart that you really are broken, or that you really are dying (sooner or later). But they also have a strong desire to tell you that it’s okay, that you can feel better. They are a way to make sense of your own impermanence. The key is in the change of chords or notes, the restlessness of moving on. The strength of a song is its fragility.

Conceptual Romance is one of these songs. It could be making sense of impermanence, failure and overlooked artwork, but it could also be making sense of the eternal. A floor plan of eternity. A love song for a vampire stuck in erotic self-oscillation. Or maybe just myself.

Here:

or Soundcloud here.

female vampire video

Female vampires of the world, take over.

Directed by Jenny Berger Myhre
Concept by Orfee Schuijt, Lasse Marhaug, Jenny Berger Myhre and Jenny Hval
Performed by Jenny Hval, Orfee Schuijt, Anja Lauvdal, Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck, Ingrid Haakstad, Sigrid Marie Kittelsaa Vesaas, Marianne Skjeldal

Much, much <3 <3 to all the all the people credited above (that are not me)!

I wrote something about it: What does eternity feel like? How do you ‘live’ when there is no death? Usually, the vampire is depicted as a lonesome, all-knowing and ancient creature combining violence, aggressive sexuality and deceitful youth. The pack behind the video for ‘Female Vampire’ wanted to explore vampiric eternity in a different narrative: in a group of romancing friends. The vampire friends move through their hometown of Oslo, partaking in public and private rituals of moving together. We also wanted to combine ideas from old vampire trash movies and modern trashy iPhone videos, resulting in an enigmatic world of time-lapse like slow motion where everything is always moving, or moving on. Not there, or not there yet.