Our Song of the Day comes from Kristina Jung with her new single The North Water. When Thomas Blake reviewed Kristina’s EP Into The Light That I Have Known for FRU he concluded ‘it has an eerie appeal all of its own that, rather than being explained by geography, is simply the result of a wonderful voice and some timeless songwriting.” The North Water is no exception, there is an otherworldly feel to the song as well as a deep sense of serenity and acceptance despite the gathering storm on the horizon depicted in the oil painting by Jan van Goyen that inspired the song. Listen below and read about its creation in Kristina’s own words.
Kristina Jung on The North Water
The North Water was commissioned by Groninger Museum, a Dutch Museum in the lovely city of Groningen. They ask artists to write songs for exhibits of their permanent collection which they then put on the audioguide. You can thus walk through the museum and listen to music that was especially meant for this particular space, which is obviously a great idea and quite a unique experience. Some of my personal favorites, like Allysen Callery, Ryan Lee Crosby, The Great Park and Björn Kleinhenz, have already contributed to it or played the Museum, so I’m very honored to be part of it.
I chose to dedicate a song to a masterly, old oil painting by Jan van Goyen, who lived in the 17th century and was primarily known for his landscapes. The painting shows a harbor with incoming and outgoing ships, there’s a thunderstorm gathering on the horizon.
The North Water was written in January 2015 but I didn’t record it until two years later. It felt too nostalgic for my taste and I didn’t know what to do with it in terms of production until some life-imitates-art thing happened to me and made reconnect with the emotional world of the song (oh boy, what a phony thing to say but now it’s out in the open). To contradict the overall nostalgic feel I decided to build in some anachronisms, concerning both the lyrics and the production. The kind of out-of-place line in the third verse stems from that: “hear the ladies sing, hear the cars run by” doesn’t make a lot of sense in a song that otherwise evokes a romantic and dark past, but I kind of need it for my own connection to the song and so I just left it there. It was only after I had added said line that the ideas for the production started flowing. I wanted to give the dark romanticism of the song enough space but I also wanted it to sound contemporary and weird, so I decided to add synths and manipulate my voice in a way that was inspired by the very low hum at the beginning of Yellow Flicker Beat, the song Lorde wrote for the Hunger Games Soundtrack. I make Folk because I’m drawn to beautiful melodies, not because I’m drawn to a certain period of time. I love Folk and Singer-Songwriter stuff but I hardly listen to it at the moment (except for The Breath’s debut album Carry Your Kin, it’s my best new friend). There’s probably much more HipHop and Pop and Organic Electronic than Folk on my playlists right now, so I spent the last year looking for a sound that would allow me to merge my love for melody-driven music on one hand and for contemporary soundscapes on the other. The North Water is the first result of that ongoing search and I feel like I’m getting closer to a sound that is weird and idiosyncratic enough to be entirely my own. After I had recorded and arranged it, Eryk Pawlik added some electric guitar (he’s a wizard, listen for the ghostly guitar in the third verse, it’s like a will-o’-the-wisp and makes me very, very happy). Sebastian Specht at Bodega Studio did the final mix and graced the song with some fairy dust and a sub-base that I can’t get enough of. The North Water will be physically released by Cosi Records on a sampler that also includes songs by Allysen Callery and Ryan Lee Crosby later this spring.
Thanks and love to Eryk Pawlik and Sebastian Specht for making music with me, to Steven Kolsteren of Groninger Museum for commissioning this song, to Cosi Records and (of course!) to Folk Radio UK for having me!
The North Water is set for release in April on Cosi Records. Be sure to follow Kristina on the links below.