Interview: Five minutes with Hanne Mjøen

    Image credit: Fabian Fjeldvik

Rebellious Norwegian songstress Hanne Mjøen is embodying every unprovoked thought, splashes of anger and indifference that accompanies a breakup, all wrapped up in playful imagery, catchy electro-pop lyrics and cascading electronic embellishments. ‘Hell With You’ (released last week via Physical Presents) has just received its own darkly mystic video, which explores the imagination of the young songstress. Carrying elements of the surreal, high-school heartbreak and spectacular use of colour, the video leaves fans in eager anticipation for her next release.

Stream/Download ‘Hell With You’

With support from PAPER Magazine, The Line of Best Fit and EARMILK as well as the Youtube channels MrSuicide Sheep and The Unique Vibes this week alone, it’s clear Hanne Mjøen is a fast-rising sensation. Curious about the singer who has rejected the normal industry standards and yet is achieving such success, we sat down for an exclusive interview. Catch it all below. 

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, and I always enjoyed writing short stories and diaries. Once I discovered that I could write my own songs, there was no way back really. I’ve never been any good at talking about how I feel, so it felt natural to me to write about it instead. 

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

It used to be the sound and melody, but the last couple years I’ve preferred to have a lyric, line or theme before writing the music. You can never decide when inspiration strikes, so I keep a document on my phone with everything that comes to mind at any time, and bring it with me when I’m going in the studio to write.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

I do have a feature coming up, but it’s still a secret, so I guess you have to stay tuned. For my own music, I like the most to work with a producer or/and songwriter to develop and finish my ideas. I’ve never had the patience to be the producer myself, I like to focus on making the lyrics and melodies stand out.

What’s on your current playlist?

Emilie Nicolas, Frida Sundemo, Robyn, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver and Flume.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

Gosh, I miss playing live. It’s been way too long. I love meeting fans and connecting with them. On stage, I try to make a universe I can drag them into, and I like to make everyone feel seen. I feed off the energy they give me, and I’m a bit of an uncontrolled, unchoreographed dancer. Since I operate in the “crying on the dancefloor”-genre I want to make people feel good watching me.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I don’t think I have any specific techniques, I just do whatever feels good. I mix elements from the 80’s and 90’s with modern synths and sounds, and that’s it. I get very inspired by the soundscape Robyn used to have, and the soundscape Flume does. 

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I usually like to write with a producer and a writer, and we always start the day with a cup of coffee and talk about what’s going on in the world and our lives. This might give us something to write about, and it also makes it easier to talk about whatever’s on our minds. Once we get a vibe going musically, the writer and I share our ideas for lyrics and find a theme, line or word to build the song from. And from there we form the melodies to fit the words of the song. 

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

I’ve always been singing by myself in the hallways of my school, without really knowing what I was doing, and when I was 12, a teacher picked me out and asked if I wanted to sing at a concert. I was scared to say no, so I just did it. And after that, I’ve never wanted to do anything else. Once I started writing, I realized that I could really do this, and there was no way back.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

I keep a bottle of water on stage, my concerts are kinda like a 40-minute cardio workout.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Cham Léon, I love his stuff! It’s so unexpected and interesting. And Ponette has been my favourite band for a while, Helene’s voice mixed with their crazy soundscape is an experience to listen to. 

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Coffee, good conversations, and dark vibes.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I usually just use the harp in Logic x, haha, and tweak it, if I’m writing alone. It works, and I don’t have the patience to learn more about sounds. I also like to just use my voice, and make a synth from the choir. Working with other producers the Prophet synth is a keeper, I love the sounds it can give me. 

Any side projects you’re working on?

I don’t have any side projects, but I do enjoy writing for other artists too. It’s nice to put my own dark mind away and help develop someone else’s ideas for a change.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

The first music I put out was kinda like an experiment for me, and I found my sound on the way to where I am now. It’s always been personal, and it’s always been pop, but I’ve specified it more, and the lyrics have become more honest and grown-up as I’ve grown.

Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

I’m releasing my debut EP this year. Very excited. So there will be a lot of music and a lot of feelings this year. It’s called “Emotional Fever”, and I will take you with me on my roller coaster of emotions. 

Famous last words?

Thanks for the chat! If you liked what you read and want to follow and get to know me more, you’ll find me on Instagram and being awkward at TikTok 😈

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By Sarah Britton