This week's ALT 104.5 New Music Discovery of the Week is girl in red - "I'll Call You Mine" brought to you by Family & Co. Jewelers!
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More on girl in red:
Had everything gone according to plan, Marie Ulven -- a.k.a. intimate rock/pop sensation girl in
red -- would’ve spent the vast majority of 2020 playing for new crowds, in new venues, and
taking in new landscapes as she drove from city to city on tour. But the COVID-19 pandemic
upended all of that, and so she found herself grounded, at home in Oslo, and revisiting the
familiar skeletons of songs she’d begun to sketch out the year before.
She wrote and demoed 11 songs at home, and soon she was borrowing her father’s car to
make the eight-hour trek from the Norwegian capital city to Bergen, a city nestled between
majestic fjords in an inlet off the North Sea, to record if i could make it go quiet, her debut album
out April 30th, 2021. Consider if i could make it go quiet the musical distillation of Ulven’s
solitary conversations on the road: it’s an album brimming with the things we wish we could say
to others, but tell ourselves instead.
“Every time I left the studio from Bergen, I would listen to hours and hours of my own tracks, and
just be like, what can I do better? What can I refine?” she says, recalling her cross-country
drives through the Norwegian wilderness to the studio. “Driving is a cathartic thing; it gives this
amazing feeling of freedom. I love to talk to myself, so most of the time, if I didn’t listen to my
songs, I would just reflect in the car. I read that talking out loud to yourself is healthy, so I’m
going to keep doing that. But the drives, they take you out of all the other distractions because
you just gotta pay attention to the road. It allows you some headspace.”
After 2018’s breakout single “i wanna be your girlfriend” established Ulven as a talent to watch,
she amassed a worldwide following that heard themselves in her poetic lyrics, at times
hopelessly romantic and painfully direct, that meshed beautifully with the sparse yet captivating
arrangements she wrote and produced herself. Instead of nursing the emotional wounds of a
break-up or the aches of unrequited love in private, Ulven, then a teenager on the cusp of
adulthood, opted to process and heal before her growing audience with a series of EPs and
Whether it’s collaborating with pop mastermind and Billie Eilish collaborator FINNEAS
on “Serotonin,” a huge pop anthem that speaks to Ulven’s struggles with mental health, or
flexing her instrumental chops with album closer “it would feel like this,” she has pushed herself
to new depths in her artistry and fortified it in the process.
“There are things on this album that I haven’t been able to talk about in my songwriting
previously,” she says of if i could make it go quiet. “‘Serotonin’ is brutally honest, lyrically,
especially about having these intrusive thoughts -- thoughts of never going to be okay, and
thinking my therapist hates me. I stopped going to my therapist because I felt like I was such a
big burden for her that she didn’t like me. I’m pretty sure a lot of people have felt that, whether
it’s a friend or a family member or a therapist. I’m addressing a lot of things I haven’t been
comfortable talking about, or admitting to myself, or even things to tell my closest friends and
Betrayal, lust, longing, pulling herself out of a depressive spell -- nothing is off-limits on if i could
make it go quiet, and Ulven lays bare her ruminations on all of the above while distorting and
reimagining the sounds coming out of her piano and guitar. She explores the limits of the human
condition and her radical acceptance of it on “Body And Mind,” which ebbs and flows over a
moody, electronic groove; she proudly tackles sexual liberation with sunny chords on
“hornylovesickmess,” and reveals she wants more from an unavailable partner on “midnight
Love, in all its messiness, is a constant muse on if i could make it go quiet, and Ulven
delighted in challenging the mere concept of a love song, and what it can do, in her own way.
“When you [hear] ‘love song,’ I have very bad connotations immediately; I’m like, that’s some
sappy shit!” she says, laughing. “But love is so big, and there are so many sides to love. I feel
like I’m exploring a little bit more of the hate side of love with this album. I also feel like I’m
exploring a little bit more of being vulnerable and letting someone in. I haven’t talked about that
before… [The album] is a big, boiling pot of thoughts and things I haven’t said.”
There are lessons to be drawn from these self-examinations, and Ulven has eagerly embraced
the opportunity to write her way through them, even when it hurts or she’s left with more
questions than answers. It’s easy to picture her behind the wheel, somewhere between Oslo
and Bergen, listening through “Rue” while recalling the dark mental place she was in when she
wrote the song, or the friendship she hoped would turn into something more that inspired “You
Stupid Bitch.” if i could make it go quiet is girl in red in its purest, elevated form: Ulven has never
been braver, and the music follows suit. “I really poured my heart into a lot of these lyrics, fully,” she says. “I just feel like I emptied myself in this album.