Parallel to her US focus, Hval will now devote more time in Norway to develop artistic projects on home turf with Norwegian as well as international partners.
How would you describe your own working situation, being based in the US, a market that’s pretty far from home?
– For starters, I’m working long hours over here. A willingness to work hard is a prerequisite and patience is a virtue since the US can be challenging in terms of visas, contracts and tax issues. At the same time, there are vast opportunities on the live scene. I love to work with people across the Atlantic and cherish the opportunity to go over to do tours. Being signed to a major booking firm, I have the opportunity to do quite a lot of live shows.
Last year, Hval toured extensively as a support act for Swans. We ask her what the outcome of the tour has been:
– It opened up doors to a whole new audience, says Hval. I could definitely feel that surge. Swans’ artistic standing and Michael Gira’s reputation as a curator created a totally new setting for the concerts – a setting that greatly influenced the audience’s perception of the music presented. I’ve played many live shows alongside acoustic acts, played the role of the pop act at an experimental festival or being pigeonholed with other female artists at festivals and voiced criticisms over this. I’ve now developed an understanding of how important it is to thoroughly curate a night of live music shows – it can greatly affect the way the music is listened to.
Hval’s support tour with Swans demanded a huge effort on her part:
– I recomposed the set-list for each night and did lots of improvisation – in the process I also feel that it boosted my confidence too. An uncompromising band as Swans is also inspiring in that respect.
– It was a real eye-opener to be the support act of someone so uncompromising and to come to the understanding that I can do whatever I want. It’ll be much more interesting for the audience, whatever someone might have to say about the music not being catchy enough. Music is to be death-defying, it should cross borders and it should allow you to do things you cannot do in your everyday life. That’s still music’s very foundation, regardless of you having a management or not. I believe that the audience will understand this.
Hval’s Swans support-slots led to more live appearances, including a stint with Shellac in Helsinki:
– More people have become aware of who I am and what I do now. After the Swans tour came ‘Meshes of Voice’ which was bestowed with favourable reviews – the link between the two was important for me and Susanna. ‘Meshes of Voice’ was based on Susanna’s solid international work and we are now sharing the same press agent who will also work on my releases. It’s nice to have a small world of teams around me that can actually see all aspects of my work.