Dmitriy Gruber, a man fixated with shadowy bedroom electronica is the instigator behind ‘Hjördis-Britt Åström’, but his collaborations with fellow minimal wave enthusiasts spans Europe and includes vocalists as well as instrumentalists. Gruber is a prodigious producer, new tracks tumble into the public arena on an almost weekly basis such is his proclivity for experimentation. He’s so comfortable with his assumed identity as Hjördis and the darkened world in which Hjördis exists, you start to wonder where the overlap from one identity to another begins and ends.
Our attention was first drawn to Hjördis-Britt Åström by the track ‘Castles’, from the three track ‘Cold Cold Spring’ EP. It’s a moment of pure dark synthpop refinement, but it isn’t alone – the other two tracks, ‘Red Coat’ and titular ‘Cold Cold Spring’ are equally absorbing.
When we explored the world of Hjördis a little further we discovered he’d already put together the new track ‘Desire’, a rampant, tangential burst of up-tempo colour in another wise fashionably subdued collection. For minimal enthusiasts Gruber provides a rich vein. Simple but defining pleasures punctuate his works like the perfect ‘punch’ snap of the snare and the machine gun bass line in ‘Emptiness’, a track that fades out quickly, as if the mind of Gruber is already creating elsewhere.
Gruber fixations flit briefly across neurons – his most recent tracks toy with the well established harmony of minimal electronica and French vocals, a combination that works effortlessly well together. This is Hjördis-Britt Åström in the here and now. With a story-like imagination and a small army of talented collaborators the exciting thing is we don’t know what Hjördis-Britt Åström will be tomorrow, but it will definitely be worth listening to.
Here’s our Q&A with Hjördis-Britt Åström:
Hjördis-Britt Åström, please introduce yourself in no more than thirty words:
My name is Dmitriy Gruber. I am a founder of ‘Hjördis-Britt Åström’, the author of music and most part of lyrics. I’m gonna build the Palace Of New Times.
One of your first tracks is called ‘Trains Go Far And Never Back‘. What does that title mean to you?
Honestly, I dislike to talk about the meanings of songs. Because if you can feel the sense of it, you’ll get it. If no, nothing will help you with understanding. I have two types of songs: the stories and songs, which translate emotions. ‘Trains’ is an emotion.
What inspires you to write music?
You know, I don’t think that I need any kind of inspiration from outer world ’cause I find something coming from inside of me, some kind of inner infinite force. Like I can write a whole album in one night. What about my interests I love black metal, alcohol, night drives in the forest, horror films and VHS-aesthetics. Maybe I combining all the things and getting an ‘inspiration’.
What is your favourite book and why?
My favourite book is “Bad Wisdom” by Bill Drummond and Mark Manning. It’s quite corresponding with my visions and feelings. Also, I love the poetry of William Blake, Paul Eluard and Artur Rembo.
You can invite one band, any band to play a gig at your house. Who is it and why?
I don’t know the answer but ’bout gigs- I don’t want any at my home. What about collaboration with any other artists- I’m always open for it.
Are you religious?
I think that religion is like a kind nanny for people, it talks them: “you have to be quiet, you need to be strong, everything will be okay with ya, but you should follow the Rules”. I don’t need a such care, my way is a Witchcraft, a quest for Knowledge.
A national radio station calls you up and says they want to play one of your tracks. Which one do you choose to play and why?
I think it will be “Funeral“. In any ways, ha-ha.
We’re coming to Sweden on holiday and your taking us out…where will you take us?
We will going in the night to the forest, lakeside, there we will build a bonfire and grill some meat and we’ll get gallons of alcohol- wine and bourbon. We’ll have a really good time, ha-ha.
What was your favourite toy as a child?
It was my father’s gun. I really love to shoot the practice target. I know, sounds strange. I have a lot of toy-cars and also I liked to build castles/cities, I was spending a lot of time with tape recorder, but it wasn’t so cool like shooting. I never thinking about to shoot in animals, I just loved the process of handling with a gun.
Do you think your music has evolved? How?
I’ve been doing it only for a year, I have more than 10 releases and I feel that my music-skill has increased, but I’m not ready to talk about the evolution of my music now.
‘Soir Autoroute’ finds you using French vocals – do you have any connections to France?
In “Paris Tapes” EP I’ve been working with Yana Semour, vocalist. I think that she’s a talented one. I don’t have any connections in France now, but I hope I will.
What provides inspiration for your song titles and lyrics?
You know, when I’m working at songs I do the lyrics and music simultaneously and ’bout inspiration I’ve told earlier.
You clearly have a gothic slant…where did that come from?
I don’t know. Maybe it happens because we are similar in feelings. Yes, I love so much to wear my black leather jacket, but I have no subcultural connections.
Finally Hjordis, please can you explain what you hope our readers will discover when they explore your tracks?
I hope they will found themselves.
I’d like to add: Music is not my life. All my songs were recorded in ‘bedroom’ conditions, not in professional studio. My songs are kind of translation of the world, that I found by my mind. It helps me to remember about ‘going further’. I’m really happy when other people join this motion.
Music is just an instrument to understand some moments, to give a form to the things and the events, which is too difficult to describe. I don’t care about promotion of the records and so on. Yes, I’d like to work with record labels, which have interesting artists and their own vision/aesthetics, because it will be a good experience for both of us.
But I’m not one of that people, who can do something and get some connections by sticky gentleness and fake good manners. I guess, sticky gentleness is a misfortune of modern world, but sincerity is everything: if you’re a badass, be a badass, haha!
And ‘Who is Hjördis-Britt Åström?’
It’s not only me, Dmitriy Gruber. It’s my team: Marianna Diakova, Yana Semour, Mike Powers, Sunflowerdeath, it’s people with I do collaborations: Lotusotus, Kriistal Ann, Marie Noir, Ann Devon and others, which I will present you a little bit later.
Thank you so much for invitation to take part in your project, and best wishes for ‘Vader Evader’.
Thank you Hjördis-Britt Åström.