Pop powerhouse Amanda Glindvad makes a case for singing in Danish and forcing you to feel the things you don’t want to.
When interpersonal dramas feel like the weight of the world–as they often do–JÆRV is one of those artists whose music feels like a cathartic outlet. With hard-biting Danish lyrics and tonality, nearly every song carries an inherently sharp, fervent feeling. As the voice of JÆRV, Amanda Glindvad’s singing runs in grand arches, relentlessly looping between the highs and lows of her extensive vocal range. Despite this, her voice is always cleanly polished—and it’s always at the forefront, commanding center stage with its gravity, while pounding synths help to elevate everything into cathedral drama. Yet, at the same time of this theatrical grandness, almost every song maintains a sense of down-to-earth, person-to-person empathy. It allows the music to really make contact and feel like an emotional release, in that same way you felt like your favorite band really “got you” and made you feel better when you grew up.
Though JÆRV is generally described as “electropop with a Nordic tone”, genre definitions are always flimsy and rarely effective for capturing the particular kind of mood that music elicits. As Amanda herself admits, “I think it’s difficult not to get put into a box, because you put something out there – you send out a song, you send out some pictures, and maybe there’s an interview where the heading says something like, ‘JÆRV is_____.’ And it’s like, ‘ok, I guess that’s me now.'” So what is JÆRV, according to us? Maybe it’s best to just let Amanda–and JÆRV’s music–speak for itself.
GIRLS ARE AWESOME: It seems like fewer and fewer artists are singing and writing music in Danish these days. Why do you think that is, and how do the two languages compare for you?
JÆRV: I don’t know if there’s really been so much of a movement in that direction now, because I think a lot of bands still sing in Danish. Or maybe there have been different movements with the language over time. A few years ago, there were a lot of bands who used the Danish language, then there was a period where it was more English again, and now I think Danish is becoming popular again. The Minds of 99, Katinka, Vores Allesammens, Karl William, Rest in Beats, some new bands all sing in Danish…but it can also be just natural for some bands to sing in English, because there’s so much English music.
There are a lot of bands who don’t think about it and just sing in English because that’s the “normal” thing to do, and don’t consider the possibility of singing in Danish. I used to sing in English, but I just felt like there was a filter when I wrote in English. Even though I tried to make it deep or honest, so the words meant something, it was difficult for me because I felt like so many words and phrases were already used before. So sometimes it just felt like a cliche, trying to say these things in English.
Some people say that when they write music in English they feel like they can get away with a lot more. For example, in English you can say “baby, baby, baby, ooh” or whatever and get away with it. Whereas in Danish it would sound more ridiculous. So maybe working in Danish—even when it’s your native language—can sometimes force you to be more original.
Yeah, it’s my primary language, so of course I just know the language better. But it can also be easier to find phrases where it’s like, “ok, this has never been said before.” I can have that feeling when I use Danish. In English when you try to be original, sometimes it’s harder but also more obvious that you’re trying to “do something special”. And then it can sort of feel like I’m faking.
One day I was sitting at my piano and I started creating a song in Danish, and I just felt like it came from me in another way. Like that it was really from me, and less like, “now I have to make these words rhyme” or something. It just felt more honest.
The languages must have a different influence on the tone, too, so maybe it also depends on the intended mood or vibe of a song.
I think English is a softer language, so in some ways it sounds “better”—it sounds more smooth. If you’re trying to make R&B I think it’s probably easier to make R&B songs in English, but a lot of the time I’m going for a more dramatic vibe, and I think the Danish language can be more punchy in a way. Maybe it’s not as smooth or elegant or nice in a “beautiful” way, but it has more of a drama in it. You can use its punchiness to make more of that dramatic feeling you want to make.
It’s interesting, but whether it’s more difficult or more easy, I don’t think it’s possible to really answer that. For me it’s easier to write in Danish than English because it’s my primary language, but at the same time, I feel like I can’t cheat with Danish. When I say something I really say it, so I have to mean it.
Your music has been described as “electro pop with a Nordic tone”, and I agree that there’s definitely this general “Nordic tone” genre-wise, but I have a hard time pinpointing what exactly it is. There’s some music—even when it’s in English—that is definitely recognizable as Nordic or Scandinavian, but it’s hard for me to put into words what gives it that feeling or tone.
Well, I’ve just heard that my music has a Nordic tone. It’s not something that I specifically decided or intended. But I know what you mean: there’s kind of a coldness or something in the music. I don’t know exactly what that coldness is, though.
I have a new song, a totally new single from two weeks ago, called “Befri Mig”. It has a bit of a different vibe going on than my EP did, it’s a bit more energetic and more of a power-song. It would be interesting if it seems like there’s a Nordic vibe in that song, because I don’t hear that.
Well, I think your music is very powerful in general. Some songs are quite intense. I never really know how other people listen to music like that—I usually do when I’m alone, or with headphones, because it feels more personal. There’s a lot of drama and emotion, so it’s not something light that you’d just put on and zone out to.
Well, I guess every song does something a bit different. If I wasn’t me—if I wasn’t JÆRV—I think I’d listen to “Befri Mig”, the new song, in a different setting than if I was listening to “Ingen Alder”, from my EP. It’s an interesting question—the songs can elicit something very different. If I wasn’t JÆRV, then I imagine that I would listen to the music when I was walking down the street, just by myself, if I felt like I needed some strength and some energy and to get in touch with my feelings. The most important thing for me is to awaken some kinds of feelings in people, but which kinds of feelings it awakens can be very different. The worst thing would be if it didn’t do anything, if it was boring.
It’s interesting what you’re saying about every song being its own thing as well, having its own feeling—sort of self-contained.
Yeah, like having separate histories and stories. I think especially “I Staver” and “Befri Mig” do. But it’s also important for me to make the music living and flowing. I like when a concert has a narrative but is also dynamic, so you can get in touch with different types of moods and energies. At a concert, I like to think of every song as a short story in itself, but then also part of a big overarching story at the same time.
I like the shifts between them too, actually. I like to go from one song to another when there is very clearly a shift in mood. And I like that when I go to concerts myself—not for a concert to have a schizophrenic vibe, but I like when you can feel a difference between the songs. Sometimes it can be nice that you have a feeling of one overall song, one vibe, but I think it’s also dangerous to have those kinds of concerts. So I think my songs are quite different from each other, but there’s a connection still. I also like to be in the extremes—like when you have a song where you’re angry, and to have a song where you’re sad. To just go all out there.
The planets are aligning in JÆRV’s pop universe on October 22nd for what will undoubtedly be an astronomical show at Ideal Bar in Copenhagen. Amanda and her band, which includes Mathias Smidt, Malte Aarup-Sørensen and Kasper Nyhus, will be bringing the drama and synths in full force. Check out the Facebook event for more info and tickets.