Kira Skov – My Heart Is A Mountain
“It’s my freedom call, it’s my freedom roar…”
It’s a rejuvenated Kira Skov liberating listeners from the seasonal gloom of early 2023 on MY HEART IS A MOUNTAIN – her new album with a heart so full of promise it leaves us mere mortals breathless. It’s a revitalized Kira who, after last year’s appearance on Danish TV’s celebrity reality series (Toppen Af Poppen / Top of the Pops), seems armed with an unbridled desire to embrace life and the ever-changing new normal of the present, while provoking healthy existential lyrical curiosity.
Kira’s voice has never been stronger than now, and it becomes immediately apparent that her days of heartbreak, sorrow, and loss appear to be fewer and further from one another. The grief she’s explored in her songwriting has been a natural, necessary process since the harrowing heartbreak in February of 2017 that robbed her of her husband and left their son without his father.
But even the longest night’s journey through seemingly unrelenting darkness eventually meets its end at the dawn of a new day, as the morning sun warms, thaws, and instills irresistible optimism for life, reminding us of adventures yet to be had and mountains yet to be climbed. And that’s where we meet Kira on MY HEART IS A MOUNTAIN. She’s on an expedition in which new faces and sounds and ideas merge with the familiar, but the bittersweet and tragic memories of the past stay just there. Fresh focus is put on the present – and future. Her other half, Silas Tinglef (Howl Baby Howl, Niels Skousen, Mellemblond), as well as master producer and multi-instrumentalist John Parish, remain sparring partners as musicians and in production roles, and the caravan’s journey has taken them to Real World Studios. The fabled oasis of ethereal music built by Peter Gabriel in an old watermill in the small town of Box in South West England is one of the most iconic studios on Earth and radiates with a holistic vibe (along with a literal babbling brook). Here, most of the songs have been mixed by Head (PJ Harvey, Marianne Faithfull), who’s worked closely with John Parish since their early days in Bristol.
Kira’s music and message reach new heights as they soar with freshly feathered wings in a bold, contemporary creative context. She’s musically molted, releasing herself from some of the shadows that maintained a presence on her past few albums, instead offering beams of light, and beautiful life and love anew.
MY HEART IS A MOUNTAIN features a new bassist in the form of Billy Fuller, known from the band Beak, and his long-standing collaboration with Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin, Alison Krauss). Also on board are guitarist Oliver Hoiness, violinist Maria Jagd, and vocalist Mette Lindberg (The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, X Factor, etc) who lends her voice and charisma to a duet with her good friend.
MY HEART IS A MOUNTAIN is a new beginning. Kira pivots from dedicated self-reflection on her last album, the pandemic period project SPIRIT TREE which was built on the concept of community and featured duets with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Steen Jørgensen, Marie Fisker, and even Lenny Kaye (known from his work with Patti Smith). The new album is forged in an English garden almost out of a fairy tale but has its roots in her home in Copenhagen. In her modest but magical house in the Danish capital, Kira Skov is in constant collaboration with her partner-in-everything, Silas Tinglef, as they navigate parenthood and productions through meals and music. At any moment, the guitars can come down off the walls; voice memos and demos are recorded, listened to, explored, and expanded upon; and the small studio in the shed out back is fired up, with Silas behind the faders. This is how many songs are born here.
MY HEART IS A MOUNTAIN is a new and necessary album, on which Kira dares to address life’s great paradoxes with her wonderful vocal instrument. She explores a specific sense of bewilderment on Rocks – a tune which she calls her Jack Kerouac-inspired haiku poem, but also a rippling psychedelic gem for listeners to enjoy, where guitars and John Parish’s balafon create a soothing trickle of a stream flowing beneath the vocals.
We get to the root of hypocrisy in Conspiracy and Oppressive Consensus, where we can no longer shield ourselves against a voracious virus, but must stand up to fear, hate speech, and the very real risk of taking a step in the wrong direction. There’s plenty to write about, and sing for, as she references “the conspiracies and distortions, the insanity of war, and the virus eating us alive, I just want to sit here, and die in my own time.” Here, Kira Skov reinvents the artist’s natural duty to lend voice to indignation and ask the necessary questions, however unpopular they might seem or sound in the moment.
MY HEART IS A MOUNTAIN is a statement of truth, but perhaps also – as she sings in Girls – an invitation to “women who are still girls, to girls who become women. To everyone who feels like a girl, to boys who become girls, to boys who love girls and girls who love boys, and to all those who dance in the shadows in between.”
Listen, and join Kira as she welcomes listeners out of the shadows – and into the light and promise of a new day.
My Heart Is A Mountain / Girls / Something’s Missing / Debbie / Fantasy / Rocks / Conspiracy / Possibilities / Unsteady / Oppressive Consensus / If Not The Sun
Kira Skov – vocals; Silas Tinglef – acoustic and electric guitars, piano, keyboards, drums, percussion; John Parish – electric guitar, keyboards, space sounds, marimba, drums, backing vocals; Billy Fuller – electric bass, backing vocals; Maria Jagd – strings; Ned Ferm – saxophone; Oliver Hoiness – electric guitar; Anders (AC) Christensen – electric bass; Mette Lindberg – vocals
CD: STUCD 23022, LP: STUCD 23021, Kira Skov, My Heart Is A Mountain, Stunt Records, Sundance Music ApS.
Kira Skov on the songs on MY HEART IS A MOUNTAIN
My Heart Is A Mountain
The album’s title track. It’s a form of prelude and the potential was there to expand it into a larger song, but I like that it’s just allowed to hang in the air. Then you can hear it again and again if you want to. Less is more. It’s also a little declaration of love – a kiss for Silas. Some days it can be challenging to be with a woman like me, with the baggage I have. The song is a reflection of this. My heart can be like a mountain to climb. It was captured on one of those days when I was thinking: ‘I’ll just send a little song to Silas.’
Silas and I wrote this one together. I always write the lyrics and melody, but we wrote the music together. We were hanging out, playing some guitar, and drinking a bottle of red wine over dinner, and it came to us. The song is a tribute to women of all kinds. To women who are still girls, to girls who become women. To everyone who feels like a girl, to boys who become girls, to boys who love girls and girls who love boys, and to all those who dance in the shadows in between. It’s about the freedom to be yourself, regardless of the judgmental gaze of others and restrictive pressures to be any of the above. I’ve chosen to dedicate this song specifically to women who haven’t had the opportunities that I take for granted. To the women who have no freedom at all. In solidarity with the growing WOMAN-LIFE-FREEDOM movement in Iran and growing around the world. Where basic human rights are at stake. And where people give their lives for everything that I, as a woman, have taken for granted.
This song has a bit of a 60s-inspired vibe, especially with regard to the chorus and varying tempos. It has something acidic in it that I like. It tells of the days of grief, but at the same time, it personifies the album and the moment, which tells me that maybe I’m actually doing very well and it’s okay to celebrate. So, it has both poles, I think.
This song was born in an act of defection. I live in a house where kids and friends and neighbors could come bursting through the door at any moment – so sometimes, I borrow another house. One where I can sit alone, just by myself. In this old house, surrounded by a big beautiful garden, I came across a picture of Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop online, standing together in Berlin in 1976. The whole song just came out. Debbie has always been a mythical figure to me and, of course, I love Iggy Pop, too. But there’s something alluring about Debbie Harry and her whole persona in those old photographs, so somehow it became a way to channel a love for what she represents and the whole myth-making thing the two had together. The song is a tribute to two icons and to the myth itself.
This is a form of organic trip-hop. It’s in the instrumentation, as well as the composition itself. It’s minimalistic and a bit psychedelic with my voice recorded quite close. It was one of those songs I wrote up at my family’s old summer house. It tells of the triumphant plants that can rise again, survive, and thrive, no matter how many times they’re cut down. That’s part of the energy here – a little tribute to survivors.
This is my haiku, my little Japanese-inspired poem, spurred on by beatnik writer Jack Kerouac. He wrote a lot about Buddhist rituals and hiking in the mountains of California in The Dharma Bums. I got the feeling of standing on a mountain and seeing rocks and being confounded. Why aren’t they aren’t falling on me when my own world is collapsing? It’s also a salute to Bob Dylan’s Tambourine Man and ‘the jingle-jangle morning.’ I’ve been reading a lot of Kerouac over the last few years. It’s another minimalist song in its instrumentation with guitars and marimbas giving a ripple-like effect, like water over stones. Silas and I play electric and acoustic guitars in sync and we recorded it at Real World Studios, known for its many world music recordings. They had every ethnic instrument imaginable, including a balafon – the African marimba which creates the feeling and sound of water and small stones.
This song is a collection of snapshots from our time and perhaps the echo of the pandemic of a conspiracy virus. Everything gets distorted as the madness of war moves in close, how the virus eats us alive, and maybe most of all how I just want to sit here and die at my own pace, in my own time, on my own terms. That it should be a human right for all of us. While there are images and stories of European countries suddenly caring about refugees after years of being dismissive of foreigners, the song doesn’t really take a definitive position but rather presents a view of some things that you can choose to interpret or not.
This one reflects on early adolescence – when it seems like you have your whole life ahead of you. Written on one of those days when I felt as old as one of the oldest oak trees out in the park. Then I associate further and imagine myself climbing the tree, where I can see both forward and backward, with the courage and vitality of youth and the wisdom of a life lived.
This one is really like a continuation of the same thoughts that I visit on Conspiracy. These days, it can be problematic that people are afraid to respectfully disagree and are thereby excluded from communities. It’s always about being on the team supporting the popular position of the moment, and stepping outside of it – expressing anything else – can create a lot of tension and conflict. Suddenly bias itself is outlawed and it’s as if we’ve taken a gigantic step back, voluntarily relinquishing common sense in a flow where consensus has become something that oppresses us. Dialogue becomes dangerous and people are afraid of being misunderstood and saying something wrong, sometimes out of a fear of being labeled. The threat of getting off track is really dangerous for democracy, and I wanted to focus on that and talk about it. It’s something that has become more extreme during the pandemic because many of us were at home, interacting on social media online, where it’s very easy to misjudge and misunderstand each other. I often didn’t like or even recognize some people on social media – people that I actually know and like in the real world.
Surrendering to love, again. In that place where you’re kind of falling.
If Not The Sun
This is a duet with Mette Lindberg. The song builds off my previous release, SPIRIT TREE, which consisted entirely of duets. It’s about persevering and surviving against all odds. And I think it celebrates the friendship and togetherness of our music.
Stunt Records STUCD 23022 / LC 9237 / 663993230221 / Vertrieb: inakustik/The Orchard
-LP STULP 23021 / 663993230214