Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

“Where Was My Mind?” Jenny Hval’s ‘Favourite Albums’

We asked Jenny Hval to pick her 13 favourite LPs, which she didn't, because she thinks that's a "horrible" task. Fair enough, said JR Moores, so here, instead, are 13 underappreciated records she's hoping you'll go out and enjoy

Photograph courtesy of Jenny Berger Myhre

Jenny Hval’s previous interviewer "never showed up", so she’s spent the last hour or so "looking at inflatable things online". She has a big outdoor daytime gig coming up and wants some visual props as a substitute for her usual video screens as the latter don’t work so well in daylight. I suggest a large inflatable penis, of the kind the Beastie Boys infamously carted around in the late 1980s. "That would be good," agrees Hval, "I saw one in Cardiff recently on the street. But that wasn’t with the Beastie Boys. It was some ghastly girls’ hen party."

So scrambled has Hval’s brain been rendered by her research into potential distensible stage furnishings that she occasionally has to break off mid-conversation because she’s still thinking about "pink beach balls". "I tried to prepare," she apologises, "and I was much more interesting two hours ago." Did she find it hard to choose her thirteen favourite albums? "I think it’s horrible. But I haven’t chosen my favourite albums because I think that’s really boring… so I’m lying." Lists, Hval says, are only what you can think of in the moment anyway. She’s decided to leave off things that she’s listened to a lot but are "not very interesting to talk about", as well as works she feels she is already sick of discussing. She didn’t want to pick anything too famous, selecting instead records that have "meant a lot" and that "maybe a lot of people haven’t heard". She hopes our readers will then go and seek out her selections for themselves. "I read the Quietus a lot," she says, and has "discovered a lot of stuff" from previous Baker’s Dozens.

Although her list boasts certain obscurities such as Annette Peacock’s Abstract-Contact, they nestle alongside the hardly unknown folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel and even the Stock Aitken Waterman-produced glossy pop singers Mel and Kim. In these cases, it’s not so much the group itself but their music’s experimental qualities that Hval feels have been unfairly overlooked by certain quarters.

It is this intersection between the arty avant-garde and more populist conventions that informs Hval’s latest album, Apocalypse, girl, a stunning artistic achievement that can be viewed, paradoxically perhaps, as both her most experimental and most commercial work to date. It is, I think, a masterpiece of modern music and if Apocalypse, girl doesn’t make your own personal list of top ten albums at the end of the year then, frankly, you need to take a long hard look at yourself. Or perhaps a long soft look at yourself. "Soft dick rock" is a phrase used by Hval on the album’s opening track that can now also be found emblazoned on the front of her official T-shirts. I had meant to ask my interviewee what that term actually meant, but I guess my own thoughts had become similarly temporarily bamboozled by the mental distraction of balloon genitalia.

Apocalypse, girl is out now on Sacred Bones Records. Jenny Hval continues her European tour at Kägelbanan in Stockholm, Sweden tonight, and begins the UK leg at The Hug and Pint in Glasgow on November 5; for full details and tickets, head here. Click on the image below to begin scrolling through Jenny’s choices, which run in no particular order

First Record

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today