Jenny Rossander is the latest addition to the canon of Scandinavian electronic pop music – often dominated by females with distinctively European quirks (think Robyn, Lykke Li, half-Malaysian Devon Seven, et al.). While relatively still fresh-faced, her debut A Pile of Empty Tapes EP was released just two years ago and there has yet to be a full-length album, as she is still decanting her creativity via collaborative efforts with experienced artistes – Arsenal, Bottled in England, and Amanda f*cking Palmer! – with the slow assurance of a genuine apprentice. “I learn a lot about music… they can teach me a lot,” she tells us, jokingly alluding that it was like “cheat codes to life.” Her self-anointed adjective, ‘silly’, is accurate after all. JUICE speaks to the manic pixie electrogirl, learning that ‘dream girl’ isn’t a cinematic myth in the process.
Hiya Jenny. Heard you tried crowdsurfing for the first time mid-this year. How was that?
(Laughs) It was soooo much fun. I only tried it because Bon Homme, who I was playing a show with, asked the audience to catch me – so not very rock’n’roll the first time. But since I got that first sip of crowdsurfing, I’ve become quite addicted. Now I do it all the time
As Lydmor, you’ve collaborated with the likes of So-so Echo, Bottled in England, Arsenal, and even Amanda Palmer! As an individual artiste though, what is the Lydmor sound?
The Lydmor project is my child. All my emotions, my thoughts on production, my ideas, and my soul go in there. I love collaborating, but working on my own stuff is my free space, where I can do whatever I want.
A lot of musicians collaborate, but you seem to be particularly fond of working with other acts. Why?
I feel like every time I collaborate I learn a lot about music. Every musician is different, and some of the ones I’ve worked with were very experienced. They can teach me a lot about how this life I’ve started to lead works out and how to explore my creativity. It feels kind of like cheat codes (you know, like the ones you use in computer games) to life.
With the amount of Scandinavian exports making great electronic tunes, we’re wondering: What is it with female acts there and alt. electronic music that gel so well?
The scene in Copenhagen is very vibrant. There is a lot of collaborating and we come to one another’s shows, and inspire each other. I think it affects your creativity to be around inspiring people, and right now we are just having a wave up here in the north of good acts. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of it.
You grew up on a farm in Denmark (which we heard was very fairy tale-like). How did you first discover synth and electronic music?
I was always a geek. My mother was a web designer and as a child I remember playing around with 3DMAX and Photoshop, thinking they were just as much fun as my other computer games (I was particularly fond of Tomb Raider and Civilization). When I was 18 I got a little money, so I bought a studio setup and started playing around with electronic music. It felt very easy and fun, and very quickly that became the way I composed music.
Randomly googling you for research, we stumbled upon your blog. Sadly we don’t read Danish. Aside from making music, is writing something you do a lot?
I write about this weird life I am living. I travel a lot, I meet so many cool people with my music, and in my busiest periods I don’t really have time to share it that much with my friends. So blogging and Instagramming become my way of feeling a bit less alone.
It’s a bit of an oxymoron, but pop music isn’t just a mainstream thing now, artistes such as yourself and others make pop music for a more acquired taste. Do you think the mainstream is failing at giving the audience good pop music?
Nooooo…. I am quite a big fan of some of the things going on in the mainstream scene! For me, it’s not important if an act is mainstream or “hipster”. If the music is good, the music is good. Once in a while you’ll see me in a hotel room party rocking out to Robyn or Rihanna. (Grins)
“Silly electro-girl” is the preferred description on your Facebook. We happen to love MPDGs (suckers for indie romcoms, the JUICE team are). How quirky are you?
(Laughs) I must admit I actually feel pretty normal. But people tend to call me quirky, and I don’t tend to mind. I guess spending a lot of time looking inwards, focusing on expressing myself, might have made me a bit weird. I don’t really have a lot of control over myself. That might come across as quirky sometimes. How quirky are you?!
More creepy than quirky, probably. The Danish name Lydmor is relatively close to ‘sound mother’ in English. Is the maternal quality to your music something that has always been there or was ‘Lydmor’ only given to you later when others realised the tenderness of your music?
I was always Lydmor. When I started working [as an electronic act], I needed a word to describe what I was trying to do. Mother seemed obvious. A mother can be loving, but also harsh. That’s how my music needs to be; harsh but full of love.
Speaking of which, we read that your upcoming new record will be more “drug and sex and alcohol.” How does that edginess fit into the ‘sound mother’ persona?
I have always been a very honest songwriter. I sing about what happens. No filters. Lately my lyrics have become rowdier. So, you do the math… (Grins)
Cities informed your music quite a bit (a few years ago Nørrebro influenced the music you were making). Now that you’re touring the world, have bits and pieces of places outside Denmark changed your soundscape?
Oh, yes. I feel like my musical horizon had been vividly broadened during the last year. There’s so much more to sound than I ever thought possible.
There was also a brief mention of Drake in a previous interview with you (‘Drake-beats’, as described by the journalist). If so, are you a big fan of OVO?
(Laughs) I haven’t really checked him out. I think Andreas (my co-producer) Is a fan. He’s had a hip hop phase recently.
You’re big on touring – your dream is to constantly give shows. Have there never been any instances of performance fatigue for you? They say once a passion becomes a job, you’d lose some of the, well, passion…
I never lose the passion, but sometimes I do lose energy! I get so excited after playing shows, and I really want to party with the people from the venue, and I get a lot of new friends. So, sometimes I’ll be out all night, and then I have to get up in the morning to take the plane. I have had some really pathetic moments in airports around Europe, smelling like beer and cigs, looking like something from a horro-movie. But then when I arrive at a venue in the evening, my life starts to clear up again, and I get excited to play. And then the cycle repeats. Oh, the bittersweet life of touring.
Your shows usually have you either singing keyboards-dominated tender ballads or getting really into the erratic hand gestures and dramatic swaying of your more upbeat tunes. How do you effortless segue from one mode of performance to another?
For me, the two different styles of performance don’t contradict each other, [instead] they actually support each other. I need the tenderness to go really crazy. I need the craziness to become tender. I’ve tried playing shows where I only do one thing and not the other and it always felt hollow and dishonest. Performing live for me is kind of like turning myself inside out, showing people every tiny bit of me, the bad sides, the good sides, all of it. It has to be that way.
Lydmor played for the Upfront series at The Bee, Publika on Thursday 16 October ’14.