Norwegian musician Mr Little Jeans will release Better Days on June 3 via Nettwerk–an album that is a testament to Birkenes’ strength as a songwriter and vocalist and dives into undoing the trauma and disgrace that life heaps upon each of us from a young age. It’s a record about fighting to get through and the sunlight that awaits on the other side. The definitive document by a pop artist whose absence has been sorely felt, it’s a testament, an album defined by virtuosity and spirit.
Out today, the stunning “Better with You” is a piece of gossamer ambient-R&B, powered by delicate harmonies that point to the song’s sweetness. Written about the exhilarating early stages of a relationship, it speaks to Birkenes’ symbiosis with her co-writers, Drew McFadden and Leon Jean-Marie. “I’m at my most creative and honest when I’m writing with people I know and trust,” Birkenes recalls. “It also helps if I can boss them around and be vocal about what I want, which is what I did most days.” Produced by a team of talent including longtime collaborators McFadden and Jean-Marie, alongside Tim Anderson(Banks, Halsey) and Aron Forbes (Billie Eilish, King Princess, Olivia Rodrigo),the album is altogether a more dynamic, more hair-raising record, complete with shuddering bass synth, ice-cold trap drums, and a surprising, enveloping sense of space.
Mr Little Jeans (aka Monica Birkenes) has announced details for her long-awaited sophomore record, the follow-up to her acclaimed 2014 album Pocketknife. The Norwegian musician will release Better Days on June 3 via Nettwerk Records.
Today, she also shares the sultry single and an album highlight, “Lazy Love,” which follows previously released tracks “Paper Vows,” “Jump To Fall,” and “Forgetter.”
The track also comes along with a hypnotic new video directed by Tracy Antonopoulos. “Monica’s visceral vocals draw the listener into a cinematic world which is built out and enhanced by dazzling production, and grounded in real, honest emotion,” notes Antonopoulos. “With the video, I tried to bring this world to life: telling the story of a heroine being pushed to her limits, both physically and emotionally. ‘Lazy Love’ made the perfect soundtrack for that scenario.” Mr Little Jeans adds, “I’ve been wanting to work with Tracy after seeing an Opening Ceremony video she filmed and her excellent Blood Orange video. Initially, I was gonna be featured a little more, but, due to my rapidly growing baby bump – I’m due with my first child soon – leading lady Morgan Quinn came to the rescue and jumped in!”
It has been 2 years since PoketKnife was released. Mr Little Jeans is back with a new EP, Fevers, and new tour. Mr Little Jeans is Monica Birkenes, originally from Norway, now in LA. Her music is synth pop with a magic feel. FEMMUSIC was able to have a brief e-mail interview leading up to her Denver show. For info visit http://mrlittlejeansmusic.com/
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
MLJ: I like to go in the booth and freestyle over a track that we make in the studio that day. Could just be a beat and a bass line. It helps a lot if I like it and also helps if it’s fairly stripped down as it makes it easier to write to for me. Then me and the producer generally spend some time piecing together all the mumblings that I recorded and see if it makes a melody. If it does I take it home and write the lyrics. If it doesn’t then we keep going, make another track and see if I get any ideas from that. I generally like to write the lyrics at home and take my time with it if I have the opportunity to.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the Fevers EP?
MLJ: We originally had a different production of fevers (the song) which we loved, but felt like it didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the songs. So we spent a long time trying to figure out a balance of keeping what we loved and making if flow with the rest of them. Worked out in the end!
FEMMUSIC: How was your approach to Fevers different from PocketKnife? What do you think you learned making PocketKnife?
MLJ: Well with Pocket Knife I had a whole new world to figure out as I’d never made a record before and I was still figuring out how to write songs. But I think one of the hardest part of making PocketKnife was finding the right people to play the different parts; like producers and mixers and labels for example. With Fevers I already had a great team in place, but the thing that is always a challenge is the songwriting. It’s a hard to control and I never know what’s gonna happen, how I’m gonna feel or what’s gonna come out so it’s always a little nerve wrecking before you get some actual songs down.
FEMMUSIC As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
MLJ: I think I’ve been lucky to be shielded from it as both me and my manager work hard to screen who I’m surrounded by both business-wise and creatively. I would never let anything like that pass as ok, and so far I’ve felt nothing but respected.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
MLJ: I think there is a lack of long term support for the artists at most record labels these day. It’s less about developing artist and more about throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. Most artists/bands need a little more support than what’s given to them and it feels pointless singing so many acts without even the intention of getting behind it properly. Sign less and develop and support more would be my wish to the record labels specifically. It would also be nice if the majority of the money made would go to the artists themselves rather than everyone else but.