Hanne Hukkelberg no
She’s hailed the ‘Big Sister of Norwegian Pop’, but Hanne Hukkelberg’s path to pop prominence was anything but conventional. The daughter of a church organist and choral director, Hukkelberg grew up surrounded by music – first starting to hum, and strum, and tap on instruments from age three.
Raised on Norwegian liturgical psalms, and her mother’s collection of classical and Slavic staples, Hukkelberg soon broadened her musical horizons to include rock, jazz, electronic and experimental music. She performed in a variety of metal, prog rock, and free jazz ensembles, including a five-year stint with revered Norwegian doom metal band Funeral.
Hukkelberg graduated from the Norwegian Academy of Music in 2003, establishing herself as a vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist. It was there she met Kåre Chr. Vestrheim – a tutor who would later become one of Hukkelberg’s closest friends and collaborators; also producing her ‘Cast Anchor’ EP (2003) and breakthrough debut LP ‘Little Things’ (2004). Their musical partnership would span more than a decade, with Vestrheim recognising and nurturing Hukkelberg’s a-typical approach to pop music, non-traditional instrumentation – spanning kitchen utensils to bicycle spokes – and effortless ability to merge a myriad of genres.
Where ‘Little Things’ fed on Hukkelberg’s extensive jazz background, sophomore release ‘Rykestrasse 68’ (2006) took a delicate side-step – utilizing elements of folk and classical music, including a distinctive interpretation of ‘Break My Body’ by The Pixies, which immediately caught the attention of their manager Ken Goes: “Of the dozens and dozens of covers over the years, Hanne’s is my favourite.” The album was awarded a Norwegian Grammy (Spellemannprisen) in 2007 and released to international acclaim, with the likes of Pitchfork, The Guardian and BBC leading press plaudits.
Groundswell continued to build in 2009 with ‘Blood From A Stone’ – notably Hukkelberg’s darkest, most intimate album – generating steadfast press support and industry interest, including KCRW’s Chris Douridas and film director Andrew Adamson, who commissioned Hukkelberg for an original composition on The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian soundtrack. The album was behind extensive touring, including a series of UK/EU/US headlines, a full European run with Wilco and special guest performance with Jose Gonzales at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. Other live credits include: SXSW, The Great Escape, Roskilde, Pukkelpop, Eurosonic and a personal invite from Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) to play his self-curated Meltdown Festival.
After relocating to New York, and embarking a series of solo “band-in-a-box” concerts, Hukkelberg released fourth album ‘Featherbrain’ to similar acclaim in 2012. The album was hailed a “masterpiece” (The Sunday Times), with Hukkelberg’s brazen confidence and steadfast individuality reaching “airtight, impeccable” standards (The Quietus). The corresponding album tour – yet another trans-Atlantic affair, including repeat-dates with Wilco – was followed by an extended live hiatus, with Hukkelberg returning to the studio to pursue a series of commissioned works – not least of which, a guest collab with Todd Terje and Bryan Ferry on ‘Johnny and Mary’ in 2014.
Forthcoming album ‘Trust’ joins an already-technicoloured tapestry, with five years’ hindsight, humility and artistry culminating in Hukkelberg’s most assured – and accomplished – work to date.
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“Tightly orchestrated pop so intricate that it becomes interactive.” – Pitchfork
“Ignore those comparisons to Joanna Newsom or Björk… Hukkelberg is way ahead of both.” – The Guardian
“Steadfast individuality” – BBC // “Hypnotic… an elemental pleasure.” – Metro
“No less than epic” – The Quietus // “Delicately anthemic” – Uncut // “Truly remarkable” – Drowned In Sound
Lefkosia Loop Festival - Nicosia (cy)
Explore The North - Leeuwarden (nl)
Pickle Factory - London (uk)
Sticky Mikes Frog Bar - Brighton (uk)
+ Widowspeak + My Sad Captains
Bitterzoet - Amsterdam (nl)
Autumn Falls @ Botanique - Brussels (be)
La Ferme!!! Festival - Louvain-La-Neuve (be)