Yndling’s Hypnotic Dream Wave & Hazy Sweet Melancholy
With her mix of hypnotic dream pop, hazy shoegaze, and bittersweet sound, Yndling has risen fast.
Her debut single ‘Childish Fear’ was released in 2021 and was closely followed by two more singles: ‘Cotton Candy Skies’ and ‘Out of My Way’ also in the same year. This year, the release of her self-titled debut album has been a testament to the airy, mystical power of Yndling’s enchanting sound.
Yndling’s tracks skirt the difficulty of navigating adulthood and become a method of self-expression where the tricky realities of everyday life are ‘wrapp[ed] [..] in sound […] to try and make the whole thing less scary to say out loud.’
Tapping into the emotional reservoir of childlike vulnerability with real dexterity, Yndling provides a sound that feels like a fairy tale in real-time. By creating in the gap where aural whimsy meets with the starkness of ordinary reality, her music paints a gentle but pensive view of the world.
Yndling (Deluxe) as an album feels like the lighter, brighter, younger sibling of Jenny Hval’s Blood Bitch; ethereal, contemporary, and musically fresh. If Blood Bitch is a vampire, then Yndling is a white witch.
Blending elements of dream wave and shoegaze with a distinct vocal style, Yndling’s music is evocative and understated. The gentle synths and layered vocals throughout Yndling’s discography create a kind of sonic lightness that almost ripples through headphones. The production of the tracks creates a definite sense of movement. Throughout the entire experience of listening to Yndling for the first time, I felt as though I was floating. With lyrics that invite bright, brilliant images: like ‘cotton candy skies,’ and ‘I stand on my flaws / Don’t mistake me for being tall,’ the album feels like a visual as well as a musical accomplishment.
With the stark ending of the album’s final track, ‘Plants’, you’re jerked up and out of the sound’s embrace as though waking from sleep. By snapping us back to reality, Yndling manages to call out from the gap between childhood and adulthood, between sweetness and sadness, love, and loss to share a childhood nostalgia edged with unmistakable, otherworldly darkness.
I spoke with Silje, the artist behind the totally immersive atmosphere of Yndling on the meaning behind her stage name, the experience of creating music mid-pandemic, her musical ambitions and the ‘chaotic emotions’ that find their home inside her tracks.
Hi Silje! Welcome to IAMUR. We’re absolutely thrilled to have you. I would love to start with us learning a little about you, your sound, and what ‘Yndling’ means to you.
Thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it! Yndling is my solo project, and it means a lot to me. I’ve been writing since forever, but it took a while to find a sound I felt comfortable with. It wasn’t really until I made the demo for what would become my debut, Childish Fear, when I really felt like I had something. I decided to make a proper go of things and brought in a producer, Adrian Einestor Sandberg, after seeing his band MARBLES live. Working with him I really felt the project coming alive and I think we found a sound that really defines Yndling, I wanted to keep the intimacy of my songwriting as well as the hazy sound of shoegaze and dream pop.
I was immediately drawn to the name ‘Yndling’. What does it mean, how did you come across it and why did you choose it to represent you and your music?
Yndling means ‘favourite’ in Norwegian, but not directly translated: It’s kind of a favourite that you hold dear, like something with a nostalgic feel. It came about as a joke actually! It happened when I was applying for a Norwegian showcase festival in my hometown Bergen. I live in Oslo and hadn’t been home for a while. While I was home a friend teased me, saying if I made my music project big, I’d return as the ‘town favorite’ – or ‘Yndling’ in Norwegian. I liked it though, it really stuck and just made sense to me, although I am afraid to come off as a little bit arrogant having an artist name that literally means favourite!
You’ve had a super impressive couple of years, with your debut single Childish Fear released last year (2021) and now the release of your wonderful debut EP Yndling. How has that been for you? If you could crystallize all this into one moment, what would you choose? What has been the most fulfilling part for you so far?
Thank you! It’s been so cool to finally have my music out there, and it’s really great to have gotten to release so much already. Since I started Yndling mid-pandemic, I’d say being able to play live as I am doing now and it’s something I’m planning to do a lot more of going forward! That has been very fulfilling. That, and actually getting responses from people –especially on YouTube – has been amazing. It’s really cool to me that my music might be a part of someone else’s life.
You have a very dreamy, whimsical sound. There’s a kind of nostalgia in your music; a kind of hypnotic softness between your vocals and the use of flowing synths. The second song on your debut Ep, Yndling ‘Cotton Candy Skies’ really plays to that sense of ethereality, and the name of the track itself calls to mind an almost fairy tale image. Cultivating such a vibrant atmosphere is no mean feat – what drives you to create this beautiful sound? What are you capturing for us?
Hehe thank you, that’s so nice to hear you say! I’ve been drawn to the dream pop sound ever since I first listened to Beach House’s Teen Dream. I think that was the first of their albums I ever heard, and something about the melancholy in the melody as well as the whole production – it’s kind of simple yet brilliant – it makes me feel sad and happy and restless and content all at once. I guess I want to capture the same sort of chaotic emotions with my music, and especially with ‘Cotton Candy Skies’ I wanted that feeling of sweetness and melancholy combined.
There’s an element of shoegaze in the album that builds a very textured, sonic haziness in your music. It recalls ethereal wave music like that of the Cocteau Twins and other artists from the 4AD record label. I found myself drawing some parallels to artists like The National and Jenny Hval – Yndling feels like the lighter, brighter, younger sibling of Hval’s Blood Bitch. How do you balance the aural echoes of the artists past and present that naturally flow into musical work, with maintaining your own signature sound?
Thank you so much, that is a really great company you’ve put me in! Cocteau Twins are definitely a big inspiration for me. I guess being influenced without copying is a difficult line to walk on for everyone who makes any kind of art, you have to deal with that in anything really, but honestly, I haven’t thought too much about it. I guess it’s almost impossible not to copy a little bit, and things are often great because we built on something that already exists, we can’t all start from scratch.
I have the music that I love and that inspires me. I have a proper love for dream pop. What will always heavily influence my sound – the foundation of it – is going to be my songwriting. I guess that’s what will help me (hopefully!) to maintain my signature sound.
My favourite song on the album might be ‘Childish Fear.’ The longing in the lyrics cuts through the sense of nostalgia for youth. I was really struck by how embodied the song feels—the lyrics talk about ‘knowing’ bodies ‘so well’, about ‘fill[ing] with things you can’t quite combine.’ You sing about ‘stand[ing] on my flaws.’ There‘s a real sense in this song that the spiritual is very much linked with the body. It builds the sound’s dreaminess and suggests the body as more than a physical object, as almost transcendent. It feels as though the music can fly. How does this speak to your approach to songwriting?
Wow, thank you! ‘Childish Fear’ is a very vulnerable song, so in that aspect, I guess it shows something typical in my approach to songwriting. Writing has always been a cool way for me to connect with myself, and writing ‘Childish Fear’ felt almost too vulnerable –so in that way, the production just made sense. It’s like I wanted to wrap everything in a lot of sound in a way, to try and make the whole thing a little less scary to say out loud.
We absolutely love your music—please don’t stop making it! But if you weren’t making music, what do you think you’d be doing instead? As the album touches on themes of nostalgia; what was your childhood dream job?
Hahaha I don’t remember having a specific one actually! I think maybe being a vet?
You’ve been described as ‘Norwegian dream-pop.’ I can absolutely hear that in your sound, but does that feel like a good fit for you? What are your thoughts on genre and style categorizations in general?
I definitely love dream pop and would categorize my music as such myself. That being said, dream pop is such a huge genre and really covers a lot. As for ‘Norwegian’ in front, I don’t know… My association with Norwegian pop is a bit of a cold sound, and I kind of want more of a warm melancholic sound for myself, rather than the icy Nordic music, if that makes sense. That being said, I don’t think very specific style categorizations are all that useful, but the bigger ones are obviously nice to have.
As a listener and a songwriter, who are your main musical influences, past and present? Do they track into your own sound?
I’d say Beach House, Cocteau Twins, Angel Olsen (especially the ‘All Mirrors’ album), Men I Trust, The Marias, Portishead and Mazzy Star to name a few. Oh and Tame Impala, Khruangbin, Julia Jacklin – I don’t know, there’s just so much great music! I don’t specifically sit down thinking ‘Okay, today I’m making a song like this or that,’ it’s more like I’ll go through phases where one band or artist inspires me more, and maybe lead me to want a more organic sound for one track, before having a phase where I’m left wanting only drum machines and layers of synth.
We love discovering new music and artists we may not have heard of before… What’s your current go-to record, and if you had to choose – what would you say are your top 3 records of all time?
Right now, I’m listening to ‘Isolation’ with Kali Chis a lot. It’s from 2018, so it’s not brand new, but if you haven’t heard it, I’d definitely recommend a listen. As for my top three, I’m going to go for newer acts and say Bloom by Beach House, All Mirrors by Angel Olsen, and Crushing by Julia Jacklin, they’ve definitely been my most listened to albums these last few years.
We’re absolutely loving the new EP here at IAMUR, so we absolutely have to ask—what can we expect from you next?
Thank you! I am looking to playing live a lot more going forward, and am super excited to have been selected to play at by:Larm here in Oslo in September! I’m also working on my debut album at the moment. I hope to get that recorded and out next year. Thanks a lot for having me! 🙂