We always knew Ingri Høyland was ambitious – right from the release of her debut single as Hôy La back in 2017, the candle-flickering, murky trip-hop of Please, it was clear that the Norwegian artist had a powerful musical vision she wanted to put out into the world, and wasn’t afraid to push boundaries to do it. Now, a full four years on, she’s found the space to fully release that vision, in the form of her debut album There’s A Girl Inside My Brain Who Wants To Die.

That album, as you can probably imagine from its title, is one for which it’s difficult to knock a description out with a handful of words. It’s something very grand in scale, an epic, sprawling record, a journey into the heart of fear, a sort of electronic dreamworld where the music warps and bends around you, and you can never be sure where the next step will lead. Swirling up out of that mist is the track Run, one of the album’s harder, tougher songs. Built from a thudding beat, it combines that with a strange wooziness, a feeling of things being off balance, a twitching unease that stalks you through the song. From the first listen, it leaves its fingerprints – and that’s true of all of There’s A Girl Inside My Brain Who Wants To Die – a record worth taking a trip into. We caught up with Hôy La to chat about it.

Tell us a little about the track Run.

Run is a fireball! Its like your guts turning inside you, the feeling of skin being ripped off, all controlled by such a grand fear that all you want it to just run from it. You’re trying to escape, trying to take control, but you just can’t.

It feels like there’s a lot of exploration of what a person can be on the album – both in the sense of exploring your own mental landscape, but also in the sci-fi influences. Is that something that inspires you?

In some way I believe a person can be anything, can be lots of things, can be everything, can be all, but very often we find ourselves trapped in categories. Our society and language has these binary constructions, creating very a limited space for exploring all of our true selves (for instance, being either sick or well). And going through this period in my life which was quite heavy, and translating this process into sound, I learned to find light in the dark, building confidence in having a wide emotional spectrum, instead of just being ‘mentally ill’. I mean The Matrix deals with this paradox, you know, saying “be a good girl” and “don’t be a bad boy” is basically saying the same – it is just social control. In my visuals and visual moodboards for the album, I have been fascinated (and frightened) by cyborgs, as they in some way illustrate humankind’s desperate search for constant development, being more and more efficient, slowly becoming ideal production units.. the cyborgs are superior, they are fine-tuned and they are super scary!

Photo by Petra Kleis

The overall tone of the album is very carefully detailed, with even short interval tracks to adjust the mood in places. Did a lot of energy go into sculpting and planning the sonic journey of the record, from start to finish?

Yes! I think since dealing with such a delicate and sensitive emotional translation of my body and mind (!), it was important to me to create a fully moulded universe, which the listener could be invited into, and in some way (if possible), given a hand to stay in. The album (and my mind) being so chaotic and in some way going through ‘extremes’ in moods, I think it was important to be selective and carefully create a door into that universe. I mean the tracks were never created for the purpose of making an album or as a product, but rather as some sort of diary, so at least I could do was to wrap it up like a present! I think the intermezzos Psyk and Self Care are poetic transitions for me in life, but also for the listener trying to explore the corners of the record, and hopefully the corners of their own mind. They function as glue but also as a breather! I mean releasing this very emotional and personal record, is in some way the biggest loss of control I could ever imagine (I mean, in a good way, but still scary) – so I guess I wanted to take more control of all details of the sound, if that makes sense?

With the world opening up again, hopefully, are you planning on taking it out on the road soon? 

Yes, I have actually waited some time to release this album, because for me playing live is such a big part of creating music. All the tracks and all the feelings they enclose gain their own lives when playing a concert. I just played By:Larm, which was such a great experience, we got to play beautiful venues (one of the concerts was in a church!), which really fitted the music. And together with my band I just played the album release concert here in Copenhagen, which was the most intense and ecstatic concert I think I have ever had (I still haven’t landed after it!).  Now I’m looking forward to the next shows as part of the There’s A Girl tour, in Aarhus, London and Bergen, with dates in Germany and Japan and hopefully other places to come in 2022.

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