Ahead of Frida Hyvönen’s Helsinki performance on Tuesday 11th of April, Astrid Swan asks Frida about her latest album Kvinnor och Barn, making music as a mother, language and current inspirations.
Astrid Swan: Your sixth album addresses becoming a mother (at least in the title) and you have said that early motherhood informed the making of the album. Can you talk about the kinds of shifts that took place creatively?
Frida Hyvönen: Mostly it was a shift in the way I spent my time. I started working more intensely on Kvinnor och barn when my child was about one. During the two years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, there were so many other interesting things absorbing me, and the time I had for myself I mainly wanted to rest and recover physically. In January 2016 I rented a room with a grand piano in it, and started writing between 10-14 three or four days a week.
Astrid: With Kvinnor och Barn you’ve started to tell your stories in your mother tongue, Swedish. How has that choice come to you, what is your feeling with the language and your music now? Expressing emotions through language is different depending on the relationship you have with a particular language. Does this fascinate you? How might your English lyrics be different from your Swedish ones?
Frida: I have to say this was not a big deal for me! It just happened. I wrote in both English and Swedish in the beginning, but after a while I thought the Swedish songs were better, so it seemed a rational decision to make an album in Swedish this time. Most of my albums have been lyric based, but Kvinnor och Barn has gotten more response from the Swedish audience than any of the other albums.
I wrote in both English and Swedish in the beginning, but after a while I thought the Swedish songs were better, so it seemed a rational decision to make an album in Swedish this time.
Astrid: I am deeply interested in the social roles of mothers and mothering and their combination with creative work. It hasn’t been long since the times when society asked women to choose between mothering or a creative job – these roles seemed mutually exclusive. And we still live in a world of stereotypes of what mothers are like… How do you relate to this past now as a professional songwriter-artist?
Frida: Yes! I am thinking about this all the time.
It’s been important to me to learn how to plan my days and share parenting/work time/household work equally with my partner. Further, it has been important to realize that it is possible to work and perform even if you did not get enough sleep. Planning ahead and preparing carefully, has been key to be able to let go of control creatively. Maybe one could think of one’s artistic self as a sibling to one’s actual children. As someone who needs to be taken care of. Give her space to play, give her support, understanding, encouragement, nourishment, good toys, fun and warmth.
Astrid: What inspires you right now? Any new passions, old loves or other urgent thoughts that are consuming you or taking you to newfound directions?
Frida: Spring and death, the rebirth of nature’s outer/upper layers. I watched the amazing TV series Big Little Lies the other day, and have been spending some more time pondering the mechanics around domestic violence.
Astrid: How do you make decisions about arrangements and the kinds of groups that you play with? Is instrumentation something you love to switch around and what kinds of qualities do you look for in co-musicians?
Frida: Haha! For this album I wanted everything to be stringent and minimalistic. I am deeply fond of piano, cello, voices, and melody instruments as the foundation of my work. I like to keep it simple, and want to present a reliable and trustworthy environment for the stories and lyrics. I like to work with musicians who are open, dedicated, lyrical, and who have their own musicality. They need to be able to sing with female voices at the same time as they play their instruments.
I like to work with musicians who are open, dedicated, lyrical, and who have their own musicality. They need to be able to sing with female voices at the same time as they play their instruments.
Astrid: You are playing in Helsinki on the 11th of April. What can we expect from the show and what do you hope for from us?
Frida: Me and my 2 musicians Linnea Olsson and Amanda Lindgren will perform the songs from the new album. We hope for love and warmth, as always.