Interview: Lydmor

Interview: Lydmor

I caught up with Jenny Rossander, the “producer, songwriter, dancer, singer, writer and DJ” behind electronic outfit Lydmor after her first ever show in Bangkok last Saturday night to talk about her Asian tour, upcoming album, life, progress and feminism –  a topic she is deeply passionate about. She spoke as fervently as she has just performed, outlining the journey that has brought her to this point in her life, how Asia has transformed her as a person and what to expect from her upcoming album “I Told You I’d Tell Them Our Story”, which will be released this September.

Read on for a fully uncensored deep dive into the mind of one of Denmark’s most exciting musical talents.

There’s these two studies that for me define my opinion of feminism, it’s gonna blow your mind. I wasn’t really into feminism in the beginning, I mean I was, doing male things, geeky stuff. I was always doing music on a computer and was often the only woman around at the techno parties and producer stuff and I didn’t think much about it. But then I started writing feminist music and I decided I’m going to get into it, I’m going to research this stuff and I found these two studies and they just touched me because they puts words and data to stuff that I felt my entire life.

So the first study, they took these groups of people and they asked all of them first “are you pro equality?” and they were like “yes, we’re pro equality”, both men and woman. Then they divided them into juries that had to decide whether a person was guilty or not. So they were in groups and they could see throughout the process what their opinions were. In every group, without telling them they sent in an extra to get angry. The extra was instructed to shout, punch a table and throw something and they coordinated it so the moves were exactly the same and the words were exactly the same. If the actor was a man saying “oh my God I think they are guilty, fuck everything, blah blah” you could see that the people in the group, the other jury members, their opinions shifted towards his after the angry display. Now if they sent in an actress to do the exact same things, not only would people not shift towards her opinions, no no, their opinion would shift away from hers. The starting opinion would be “oh I thought they were guilty, but now she’s saying it in that way, maybe they’re not”.

And this is a jury, which is supposed to always be randomly chosen and supposed to be a clean representative of justice …

… and people who just said they’re pro equality. And they didn’t know that’s why their opinion changed, they were just monitored throughout the session, what their opinion was because it was a test. So through this scenario, you see that their opinions are super sexist, but they don’t even know it!

So in the second study, when you analyze movie scripts from Hollywood, generally if you look at speaking time of women and men, 17% is women, 17! 17% of movies is women talking, the rest is men. And we all know that, that’s been analyzed for years, and people have been like “um, this is a problem” and others are like “no, it’s not a problem!”

 

I love sexuality and I feel like portraying the female sexuality is a very important point for me because we have so much in culture portraying the male sexuality as the taker, the male is the taker and the woman is the thing getting taken. And that’s why some of my music is quite sexual, because I want to portray the woman as the sexual taker, like “I want this and I’m taking it”

 

Also the pay gap as well of course.

Yes, also the pay gap. But then these people made a very interesting study where they made movies  where it was 50% – so 50% women, 50% men talking throughout the script, and they put these test subjects into the cinema and when they got out they asked them “what gender do you think there was most of in this movie?” and they were like “oh, way more women than men, way more!” even though it was 50/50. But they thought that, because they were so used to seeing men everywhere, they thought they saw women everywhere and that there was nearly no men in the movie.

So proof of pre-conditioning.

Yeah yeah, pre-conditioning. So these people who made the study said “okay, we can find out where the limit is”, so they tried to do 40% and people get out of the cinema and still say “oh my God the women were everywhere, no men is this movie, why is it a fucking women movie!”

So was 17% really the happy medium?

No the happy medium was fortunately 29.

Oh okay … (laughs) that sucks.

But this wasn’t opinion, this is what they think is fact. They felt there was more men than women in a movie if it’s more than 30%.

And these studies for me were like eye openers!

 

I was just doing you know, song song song song okay, album okay, person okay, tour okay. And then at some point I got really tired of that, very tired of that. I felt like I never had the time to actually figure out what I wanted and what kind of artist I wanted to be, I felt I was just doing whatever people wanted me to do … I needed to sit down and look myself in the eye and ask “what do you want to do with your life?”

 

But tell me what you feel, I mean you’re from Scandinavia and recently there was a very big event in Sweden. A large amount of women in the Swedish music scene signed a #metoo petition asking for change in the music scene and they forced all the major labels there to actually make statements on the issue and promise that they were going to change things. And we’re talking about people like Zara Larson and a lot of major musicians coming out and demanding change. Do you think there is change happening in the music industry for women?

My problem is … and I’ve been very conflicted, because I love the #metoo movement, I was so happy, I was like “finally, finally we’re talking about these things!” For a long it seemed like people felt “oh, there’s no problem” and I, as a woman producing, felt there was none of me, I’ve never met a woman producing, so there has to be some kind of problem. Because for me if I want to be heteronormal about what is a “female” thing and a “man” thing, I think producing music is super female! Like a generally thought of female things to do is decorating, and producing is that! Like I have a drum here and a high hat here and a bass there …

… very delicate.

Yes, it’s a very delicate art of creating something beautiful, that’s a whole thing, and you spend hours and hours doing it and for me it’s always been very feminine but for some reason no girls go into it and I was so happy when the feminist movement started BUT I feel like in Denmark, because of the same effect like from the last study we talked about, if people see a bit more women they get super scared, you know, like if they see more than 30% they feel “oh my God there’s women everywhere!”

 

I stayed in Shanghai for a while, I was there for 5 months, it changed me as a person because I had spending the first part of my twenties just doing, not thinking, and it gave me the time to think and figure out what I wanted to do. I realized firstly that I want to tell stories, that I’m a storyteller.

 

You’re in the electronic space and EDM is very much like that where it’s very male dominated and often when a woman does come in some people ask “is she being too sexual, is she using her sex appeal to get to places were men were” in a sense. It is bothersome for sure.

I feel like, also on the sexuality thing, I love sexuality and I feel like portraying the female sexuality is a very important point for me because we have so much in culture portraying the male sexuality as the taker, the male is the taker and the woman is the thing getting taken. And that’s why some of my music is quite sexual, because I want to portray the woman as the sexual taker, like “I want this and I’m taking it”. But I get a lot of critique “oh you’re so sexual, oh you’re just playing on your whatever” and I feel like if you want to exist in this kind of weird business you gotta be aware that there’s the sexual point and there’s the other point and you can pass between them and be like “fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you – I want to be here now or I want to be wherever I want”. If I want to go naked at a show I’ll do that. If I want to be in a burka I’ll do that. As long as it’s very evident for everyone you are doing what you want to do.

I want to hear a little bit of the journey of that for you. For me my first experience hearing your music was through seeing the song “I Love You” on Sofar Sounds and then seeing you playing it again tonight, it was very different. I can see that you are obviously making progression both in your life, like with your move to Shianghai, but also in your music, that you’re learning what you want and learning what you want to create, and you’re doing it. Tell me how that’s been for you and what the journey has been like.

Actually it’s quite simple, because I started out playing and making music very early, I didn’t have any friends who played music when I started singing and writing songs so I didn’t have a band and I hated just piano and singing, I thought it was so boring, so the only thing I could do was to make electronic music. I wasn’t like I had a choice, it was the only thing I could do. So I started making electronic music and then when I was 20 I got signed, very quickly, to a record label and I started touring in Denmark and started releasing albums and everything was going so fast and I made stuff with so many people, like people who made a movie and I toured with a Belgian band and went to China and Latin America and everything was going so fast that I wasn’t really thinking, I was just doing, putting out music and doing what I could. A lot of my personality is in the old albums, but I was just doing you know, song song song song okay, album okay, person okay, tour okay. And then at some point I got really tired of that, very tired of that. I felt like I never had the time to actually figure out what I wanted and what kind of artist I wanted to be, I felt I was just doing whatever people wanted me to do and that’s when I told my managers “I’m sorry, but I leaving, I’m going to Shanghai and I don’t know if I’m gonna come back”. Because for me it was like I needed a break, I needed to sit down and look myself in the eye and ask “what do you want to do with your life?” because I had just been riding the joyride of music. It’s a joyride you know, there’s beer, there’s booze, there’s people cheering, you release singles, there’s hundreds of fans, thousands of fans! It’s so exciting and it’s really hard to stop that, but I felt like I have to stop this to figure out what kind of artist I wanted to be, and that’s when I moved to Shanghai.

 

I looked around at these people I met who were involved in the story and I was like “guys, I have to tell this story, this is what I have to do”. And I told them, I remember the exact night, I was sitting on a rooftop and was looking at all of them and I was like I’m gonna tell this story and they were like “really?” and I was like “yes, and I’m going to tell it in a way that people understand”.

 

I’m from Asia, I grew up here and I’m also half American so I kind of feel like I’m in between those two worlds and I know that they are very different, there’s a big difference between the two. Shanghai is a fantastic city, very much like Bangkok …

Yes.

… and I saw the song you were doing tonight about Shanghai, the one that you haven’t released yet, and you seemed really happy, you were smiling a lot through that song while on stage and it seemed like you felt Bangkok is a fitting place for that song, a little bit similar …

Yeah.

How has Asia been for you, how has Asia changed your opinion on life and on music and feminism?

With Shanghai, because I stayed in Shanghai for a while, I was there for 5 months, it changed me as a person because I had spending the first part of my twenties just doing, not thinking, and it gave me the time to think and figure out what I wanted to do. I realized firstly that I want to tell stories, that I’m a storyteller. I had written a book and I was really into writing and reading, I read a lot, a lot of books, I’m very literate and I really like reading and I think everyone should read a lot of books because it makes the mind better and in Shanghai I realized that I wanted to make an album that’s like a book, I want to make something that is real in a way.

Like a story from beginning to end?

Yeah. And then at the same time I realized that I was experiencing it, my story, which was so weird because I was looking at my navel, there’s a word we have in Danish which means “naval looking” where you are looking in, but it’s a bad word, you’re not looking up. And it was like I was looking at my naval and then suddenly I was looking up and there was this crazy story that was happening all around me in Shanghai with like bad guys and good guys, darkness and love and war and drugs and everything was in this story! And I looked around at these people I met who were involved in the story and I was like “guys, I have to tell this story, this is what I have to do”. And I told them, I remember the exact night, I was sitting on a rooftop and was looking at all of them and I was like I’m gonna tell this story and they were like “really?” and I was like “yes, and I’m going to tell it in a way that people understand”.

 

We’re fighting the war, fighting the war of getting people to understand AI, we’re fighting the war of getting people to understand death, we’re fighting the war of getting people to understand being social. That’s always the job of the artists. And I think a lot of artists are forgetting that right now, which is super annoying! But it has always been our job to fucking remind people of what is right and what is wrong.

 

I have a question from the perspective of musicians. Do you feel that this was a big changing point for you as a songwriter and changed for you how you approach songwriting?

Yes, yes! I started seeing songs as part of a puzzle. Because if you’re not doing a thing, like the Shanghai album is a huge thing, I’m looking at it as I look at magical surrealism writers like Roberto Bolaño or the author of Hopscotch Julio Cortázar, surrealist writers who do these stories that are like spirals, and I started looking at albums that way, where the song becomes a part of it. Before I started doing that I thought that every song was like “I’m gonna make a hit that everybody likes, so my mom has to like it and the radio has to like it” and it was so much stress! Suddenly it was like I just had to make a song that fit into the part of the story that I wanted to tell.

But do you think that in the modern social media landscape where Instagram for example is a place where people have stories now and it’s very much about connecting with a character, with a person, which I think is a good thing …

Yeah

… where social media has changed and you can still have the perfectly Photoshopped images on your profile but it also has the in the moment, at 3am in the morning stories. Do you think that society and technology at large is shaping musicians and giving them a platform to do things more naturally?

Of course! Society will always be shaping musicians. We are art, that’s what art is, we are the answer to society. There’s no doubt about it that as an artist you always have to answer to society, you always have to think about society, what is society doing because artists are always at the forefront. We’re fighting the war, fighting the war of getting people to understand AI, we’re fighting the war of getting people to understand death, we’re fighting the war of getting people to understand being social. That’s always the job of the artists. And I think a lot of artists are forgetting that right now, which is super annoying! But it has always been our job to fucking remind people of what is right and what is wrong.

 

… this part I repeat every show because I feel it’s so important. Especially because so many people are trying to denounce feminism and saying “oh, we’re already there, girls have the same rights” which is completely not true!

 

I have a question connected to that, I felt tonight that the audience was kind of being educated a little bit and I know that you’ve been a lot of places on this tour and I heard that Singapore was maybe a bit stagnant for you. Do you feel like you are having those sort of moments on tour?

Oh yes, especially with the feminist part, I have this moment on my show, as you know, where I talk about feminism and I tell that story about feminism and the reaction against it and how annoyed that made me feel. All the shows I’ve played, when I say “and that is fucked up” which is what I say at that part of the show, or something like that, people go “whoooo!” but in Singapore people were silent and I was like “okay, alright, I’ll just play my song” because I’m so used to that upfront reaction.

Which probably shows how Singapore is a very different city then other cities like China and Bangkok …

Or maybe people were more shy, I can’t make a conclusion on it, also there weren’t a lot of people at the Singapore show, so I can’t make a conclusion on it, but of course it affects me as an artist. But yes, normally I don’t repeat myself that much, I hate it, I feel it’s super fake, but this part I repeat every show because I feel it’s so important. Especially because so many people are trying to denounce feminism and saying “oh, we’re already there, girls have the same rights” which is completely not true!

I loved the “Equal Pay Day” which happened recently, which raises the issue of how if the average woman wants to make as much as the average man made last year, they would have to work all of last year AND this year up to that date, April 10th. And this was promoted all over social media by prominent women, which is good.

One question, for your fans. You released “Money Towers”, it has a fantastic video.

I edited it myself.

Really? Awesome.

I’m doing all my own editing right now, I’m like a control freak. (Laughs) I’m like “no one can edit my videos but myself.

 

My biggest dream is for people to understand the album, that’s the biggest dream. Because I made it quite complicated and my biggest dream is that people understand the amount of depth that went into that album. If they understand that … I don’t care about money, I don’t care about fame, I don’t care about success … if people understand the depth of that album, I’m happy.

 

But yeah, that video, the first single of the new album, is very much a departure from the stuff you were doing before, even the collaborations you were doing before with Bon Homme. Do you have any message for your fans who are looking forward to this new material and will be getting it over the space of almost a year?

My message for my fans for the next album is it’s coming out in September, it’s going to be called “I Told You I’d Tell Them Our Story” and it’s the best thing I’ve ever made and I want my fans to listen to it from start to finish, do it a few times. There are so many hints and so many clues and Easter eggs and a labyrinth in it. You will hear people speaking and saying words that juxtapose to other songs and juxtapose to the end and everything in that album is connected. It’s a really, really big maze and I hope people get fucking lost in it because it’s the biggest thing I ever made. So to my fans … fuck I’m looking so much forward to them listening to it, and how much they’ll get! Because I know everything, I’ve done the whole picture. Maybe people will only get 10% and the rest I’ll just be knowing but yeah, there’s so many hidden secrets in that album.

Alright, two more questions. The first one is about Thailand, you almost came here a few years ago and did a show and actually tonight I noticed some people talking about this show and saying how they missed seeing you at that point and they’re happy to see you come this time. What does it feel to come back to Asia again and go to these places.

Amazing, I’m so happy! I’m so happy all the time. I can’t stop smiling, my cheeks are hurting from smiling.

So you’ll come back again?

Of course!

And the last question, what’s your dream for the next 3 years?

My biggest dream is for people to understand the album, that’s the biggest dream. Because I made it quite complicated and my biggest dream is that people understand the amount of depth that went into that album. If they understand that … I don’t care about money, I don’t care about fame, I don’t care about success … if people understand the depth of that album, I’m happy.

Find out more about Lydmor here:
Website – http://lydmor.dk
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lydmor 
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpUFYRiaHqvPTxuxXxjBePw
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/jennylydmor

Written by Abner Olivieri, photo credit lydmor.dk

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