Behind the Music: Interview with HunBjørn

‘I know a track is complete when I get the right feeling in my body.’

Describe your music style in no more than 5 words: Ethereal, noisy, indie, electro-pop.

Where does the name HunBjørn come from?  HunBjørn is the latin origin of my real name Ulla, and means “she bear.”

Who is involved in your tracks? I write and record the basis of the songs at home in my studio. Afterwards I take them to Brian Batz aka ‘Sleep Party People’ and together we finish the productions and mixes before the mastering process.

Who or what influences your music? I get really inspired by listening to other artists, often live, so I see a lot of concerts, and listen to a lot of different music. One of my favourite go-to-bands for inspiration is Blonde Redhead, whom I’m a BIG fan of. For the lyrics, I always write about things that are going on in my personal life or reflections about who I am or where I’m going and why. 

Where is your go-to place for writing new music? I write new songs the best when I’m alone and have longer periods of time to work. Therefore I often go to a summer cottage in the North of Zealand, where I set up my studio and work like crazy for a week. 

I notice your first release was only last year – A Flutter of the Heart is truly beautiful by the way. Have you only been writing tracks since last year? Thank you…  A Flutter Of The Heart is also really special to me and the first song that I wrote when I started making music as HunBjørn. Before HunBjørn, I had an experimental pop band called Lima Lima with whom I released 3 albums. However, after I became a mother, I felt that my sound had changed and I couldn’t see myself or my songs in that setting anymore. So, I let go of the band, and started exploring a new sound which is what you’re listening to now.

With the amount of drama and emotion in your music, how do you know when a track is complete? I feel it… When I get the right feeling in my body while listening through, then it’s done. If something still bugs me, then I’ll fix it before sending it out in the world. 

‘It would be pretty awesome to play a concert in the North Pole.’

As a songwriter, singer and producer, how does this affect your recording process? For all songs there could be many perfect productions but I trust the process and whatever comes in the moment, is most often the right direction. If I doubted that, then I could keep on changing things for eternity and I don’t do that. Instead, I’ll just make a new song and remind myself that there are many right solutions.

Do you prefer recording or performing live? I really prefer recording before performing live. I would love to say the opposite and I do like to perform, but the process of making the music is really my biggest drive. 

The music and the visuals for your latest release, Who Are We To Love feel incredibly evocative. What is the message behind it?  Who Are We To Love is one of those songs where I worked on a feeling and for a long time it only had gibberish words. But, a few words stuck out: “Body” and “Who are we to love”.  When I sat down to write the lyrics, I wanted to use that as the starting point. At the same time I had just booked a vacation in Thailand, and I was feeling quite bad about it, because I knew how big that would make my CO2 footprint. I talked to a lot of friends about it – and how we consider ourselves to be environmentally conscious people – but still a lot of us fly all over the world knowing full well that it’s not good. 

I was surprised how few of my friends were actually willing to change that, and most of them just closed their eyes to the facts that we could actually make a difference by flying less. Who Are We To Love is about that. The double standards and the closing of your eyes for the unpleasant. The lyrics are very metaphorical and I wanted to emphasise the environmental theme of the song.  That’s why we decided to use my own pregnant body. It’s a symbol of the earth, fertility and the organic and the black oil marring it is a symbol of how we treat the earth and what our children are born into.

Do you have any other releases/gigs coming up in 2019? Yes, Who Are We To Love is the first single of three leading up to an EP Release with the title “Next Summer” in October this year. We are also playing a few festivals this summer, but only in Denmark.

What is your first musical based memory? I remember visiting some friends of my family at about 4 or 5 years old. They had a tiny red accordion that really fascinated me. You could push the buttons and sounds would come out… I thought it was fantastic so much so that I actually declared to my mom the day after that I wanted to learn how to play the accordion! It’s actually how I started my musical career –  playing classical music on the accordion and this then turned into many more instruments.

An increasing number of Danish artists are wanting the UK to hear their music. Why do you think this is happening? I think it’s because Denmark is too small for a lot of music. There’s simply not enough of an audience for every genre of music in Denmark, so we have to look abroad to find people who like what we do.

‘I think there’s an audience for everyone out there, especially now with social media.’

What would be three pieces of advice you would give to others trying to make it in the music industry?

  • Don’t change your sound because someone tells you it’s easier to make it in the music industry if you do that. I think there’s an audience for everyone out there, especially now with social media.
  • Be open to the fact, that as a musician today, you’ll have to know or learn a bit of everything, like video editing, social media marketing, business and so on.
  • Keep going even though it’s sometimes tough, think of it as a marathon and not a sprint.

And finally……You are told you can do a gig anywhere in the universe and can have anyone (past or present) in your audience. Where are you? Who’s watching? Wow… It would be pretty awesome to play a concert in the North Pole in all the white under the northern lights. That would be beautiful… In my audience, I would have everyone I love and everyone who loves my music, so we could share the experience.

Thanks HunBjørn for chatting with Listen to Discover.

Follow HunBjørn on: Twitter and Facebook
Listen to and watch HunBjørn on: Spotify and YouTube
Find out more about HunBjørn at: Track Review: HunBjørn: Who Are We To Love

HunBjørn is part of Listen to Discover’s #FridayFindsFeaturedArtist series which you can keep up to date with on Twitter and Facebook.

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