Nordic New Music: One to watch – Brimheim

We discovered the excellent Brimheim through the ever reliable Nordic Music Review and this was backed when we spoke to singer Greta a couple of months ago. This weekend the singer released her EP Myself Misspelled which is a collection of her past singles along with two new tracks – it is everything we hoped for and shows how much a talent Brimheim is. We are expecting big things in the future for this singer and so we find out more!

Tell us who you are and what your sound is:

I am Brimheim. My given name is Helena and I’m a half Danish, half Faroese singer/songwriter currently residing in Malmö, Sweden. My music is emotionally driven indie rock with a soft grungy feel; I write about anxiety, adulting, and self deprecating thought spirals. I don’t remember which blog it was, but someone called it destructive pop which I thought was kinda cute.

What exciting projects have you got coming up?

I released my debut EP on October 16th. It’s something I’ve been sitting on for a while so I am extremely excited to put it out. I’ve been writing songs for my first full length album which I hope to release next year; we’ll start recording for that in late October. Other than that, I’ve really enjoyed having some time to paint during this year of COVID, so perhaps those paintings will see the light of day someday soon too.

Where did you grow up and what music influenced you?

I grew up in the center of Copenhagen. My mom, who is from the Faroe Islands, is a musician too. Since showing interest in music at a young age, my mom always encouraged me to pursue it. I always thought singing was fun and would make up little kid-songs about the forest, snails, and street signs. 

At 12 years old I remember watching MTV at my grandma’s house and Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’ music video coming on. I was transfixed. She was just such a departure from the early 00’s pop star ideal; the way she dressed, her attitude, her skating and guitar playing, just goofing around at the mall — that had a big impact on me. 

My mom gifted me an acoustic guitar the following Christmas and taught me some basic chords. Writing my own songs armed with an instrument was exciting and stimulating. That’s when it really started for me; when I knew what I wanted to do. I have diary entries from that time about wanting to go to New York City, start a band with my friends, and become a rockstar playing for adoring fans at Madison Square Garden. Mortifyingly classic stuff.

When I moved back to Copenhagen, I started writing songs with my best friend, Amanda. It was so playful — everything we did then was creative and imaginative. We wrote songs and made pretend radio shows on a tape recorder. We would listen to No Doubt and Jazz compilation CD’s while drawing or make Powerpoints of trippy illustrations we made in Windows Paint. It was a very formative time for me, musically and otherwise. 

One of my biggest teenage obsessions was Nirvana. When I was 14 my dad took me on a weekend trip to London. We visited a little record store in Camden where I found Kurt Cobain’s biography, Heavier than Heaven. I bought it and read it cover to cover three times in a row.  I was a gloomy teen so his tragic story really spoke to me; an incredible young talent making art fuelled by deep pain and angst who then reluctantly became an icon to an entire generation. 

One of Brimheim’s biggest inspirations – Kurt Cobain

During my teenage years, there was a super vibrant DIY punk scene in Copenhagen that shaped how I think about live music. I had some pretty amazing experiences going to shows in the old Ungdomshuset at Jagtvej 69 drinking warm beer and moshing. 

Ever since then, I’ve gravitated towards angst and immediacy in the music I make and the music that I listen to. My own family problems, struggle with mental illness, and trauma obviously played a huge part in shaping my preferences for that kind of subject matter and aesthetic. Radiohead became a very important band to me. From high school onwards, the entire discography looped repeatedly on my stereo and iPod. At one point in my early 20’s I was in such a dark place mentally, Radiohead was the only band I listened to. It was comforting to exist in a universe with Thom Yorke’s paranoia and despondency, contemplating his apocalyptic vision of our digital hellscape future. It felt like honesty. And that made me feel less alone.

There’s been a ton of music that’s shaped me throughout my 20s. I got very into electronic music during my three years at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus – Boards of Canada, Modeselektor and Moderat, Four Tet, Burial, Arca, The Field etc. 

My guitar revival came when I heard Mitski’s Puberty 2 back in 2016 and Big Thief’s Capacity in 2017. Those were the kinds of artists that shaped the direction I took with my own music during my masters at Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen.

What cool places do you recommend to visit in your city (bars, restaurants, etc)?

Even though I moved to Malmö a year ago, it still feels pretty new to me. I still have a lot of  exploring to do but so far I can tell you: I love the mid century modern decor at Grand Öl och Mat. The food is great and they also have bands playing there sometimes. Feels very classy and cool. Spegeln is a gorgeous art deco style boutique movie theatre with a bar inside, so you can get up and get refreshments without missing any of the movie. You have your own little table and you can get tapas or an entree. It’s super charming. Kung Fu Dumpling is maybe my favourite place to eat in Malmö; very tasty homemade Chinese food. 

We love recommendations – what have you been listening to, watching, or reading recently?

I’ve been listening a lot to Reveal Party’s debut EP You Stole a Year of My Life. I think it’s so fresh yet rooted in some of the best stuff from the 90’s. Emily is an amazing songwriter and conveys her own raw emotionality with precision.

Obviously my sister from another mister, GRETA’s new record has been on repeat when I need a pick me up. She hits that sweet spot of dreamy and elusive while upbeat and danceable to a T. She has quite an intriguing and alluring sound that draws you in yet always stays a bit mysterious. Her harmonic abilities are incredible. Every time I hear something new, I’m just in awe of how she stitches chords and melodies together.

I’ve also been listening a lot to Zsela’s debut EP, Ache of Victory. It’s a really beautiful collection of songs that makes me long for a time and a place that only exists in an alternate universe or a dream. It’s slow and inviting. Highly recommend.

Music aside, I’m currently reading the recently published ‘Axioms End’ by Lindsay Ellis, a sci-fi novel set in the US. The way she’s characterised the aliens as very distinctly non-human is one of my favourite things about it.

On a more serious note, the pandemic has highlighted how uneven privilege and power is distributed across race, gender and class. I’ve been trying to further educate myself on anti-racism; a responsibility I take seriously. I’ve recently read Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. My next book about this topic will be So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo. Watch “the 13th” on Netflix. A documentary on the history of the prison industrial complex; the loophole that kept slavery alive in the prisons after abolition in 1865 and how that has impacted the disenfranchisement of Americas black population. As a whilte woman, I definitely have a lot of blind spots so I’m grateful that there are so many resources available to me, especially by black writers, creators, and activists.

My favourite game ever, “Ori and the Will of the Wisps,” came out in March and has kept me company throughout the Pandemic. It’s a metroidvania style 2d platformer with an absolutely stunning score and gorgeous art direction. The environments are a mix between Avatar’s planet of Pandora and a Ghibli/Disney hybrid movie. The controls feel sooo satisfying. I keep returning to it even though I’ve completed it a bunch of times. It’s such a beautiful world to explore, especially if I’m having a crap day in the real one. 

Most recently, I played “Firewatch” all the way through on PC. I really enjoyed it. Made me feel like I was actually lost in the wilderness of Wyoming. The voice acting is stellar and I was engaged in the story the whole playthrough. Is it a grand conspiracy or is the main character going insane? 

I highly recommend ‘My Octopus Teacher’ on Netflix. It’s about a man who befriends an octopus and learns about it’s life and environment. It’s a very life affirming and heart wrenching story with glorious underwater footage. 

Last but not least, all of ContraPoints YouTube Channel is mandatory viewing. 

Finally, what was the last thing that made you swear out loud?

The lock on my front door jamming, locking me out and my wife inside our apartment! I had to call a locksmith on a sunday evening and that, if you didn’t know already, is expensive as shit!

Interview by Alex Minnis

Photo Credits – Sonja Lovdal and Hey Jack

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