Imagine yourself on the top floor of the highest skyscraper in Shanghai, buildings reaching as far as the horizon. This is where Danish singer and songwriter Jenny Rossander, aka Lydmor, found herself, both in a figurative and literal way. Her newest album, I Told You I’d Tell Them Our Story, is set to release in September and can best be described as an emotional, electronic and relatable journey to self-discovery. We met with her as she was taking a break and folding her laundry in between a busy life of festivals and tours, to chat about conveying emotions, sending political messages and soundtracking Greek tragedies.
You are a singer and songwriter, do you remember the first song that you wrote?
I do! Fortunately, I might be the only one who remembers it because I don’t think it was very good. The song was titled Lonely Angels and I wrote it when I was fourteen. I got bullied and so it motivated me to write this song about angels that got bullied, despite the fact that they were amazing people. I think it was a bit self-congratulatory. 
How did your music develop from there? How was Lydmor created?
I’ve always been attracted to the fairy tale, which in less abstract terms means that I’ve always searched for the most intense thing to do. I started writing songs as a means to express my emotions, but when I was just accompanying myself by playing the chords on a piano, it didn’t convey enough emotion. That’s when I started making electronic music, which was more dramatic; it had a bigger impact. From there, I started releasing songs and playing concerts, which opened a door for me to step into this crazy music life, and of course, I stepped through that door. That’s why I would say that the new Lydmor, meaning the stuff I’m creating right now, is definitely influenced by the fact that I have lived a very crazy life so far, almost resembling a movie.
You are Danish originally, but I’ve read that, at some point, you moved to Shanghai. What inspired this change?
After releasing my second album and touring a lot, I went through a bit of a crisis. I noticed I had been living on autopilot for a while. I was making the wrong music and didn’t like my own work anymore, which is a problem considering I was the one making it. I was making all sorts of wrong decisions, sleeping with the wrong guys, etc. – everything just started to feel horrible. That’s when I made the decision to do something drastic, I needed to move far away.
The problem with a lot of cities is that they already come with so many expectations and preconceived ideas. If a musician goes to Los Angeles or New York, you can practically predict how that will end up. I had gone to Shanghai a few times on tour and there was something about the city (and China in general) that intrigued me. It was one big burning question mark. I had no idea what would happen if I moved there, so I did.
I can imagine it was quite the adventure! Could you tell me an anecdote from your time in Shanghai?
If you move to Shanghai, there is a very recognisable moment you share with others that move there. After living there for a few months, you climb to the top of the highest skyscraper you can find, you look around, and as far as the horizon goes, all you can see are buildings. You feel so lost and wonder what on earth you are doing in this city. From there, you are faced with a choice: you can either go home, which a lot of people do, or you can stay and face whatever it is that is on your mind. The people who stay experience a very reflective moment in which they will learn a lot about themselves. It’s very interesting because this experience is so universal, you start noticing it in other people whilst exchanging looks in trains, for example, or talking in clubs.
How has your time here changed your music?
My music has become more direct. When I started out, it was just for fun. I tried out this idea and then another, I was all over the place. This is a good thing at the beginning of your musical career because you are exploring. After a while, however, all that feeling of newness is gone and you have to replace it with something else, something I was missing before I moved.
I didn’t necessarily write a lot of music in Shanghai, I mostly just did a lot of thinking and self-reflection. One day, I was chatting with some people on a rooftop and, in a flash, I realized what it is that I wanted to do. From there, everything came together: from the tiny details – like what I would wear during a music video – to the mastering of the entire album. 
Your songs seem very personal. Why do you find it important to translate these personal experiences or emotions?
It has always been that way for me. My music is about channelling emotion and sharing that with people, like a way of communicating.
What do you hope people will get out of your music?
Essentially, I want people to feel something. I’ve always been attracted to making people feel certain emotions. As a child, I wanted to be a movie director. I remember going to the theatre to see the Lord of the Rings movies; they were so amazing and really influenced my emotions, so I decided that that’s what I wanted to do. But when I was fourteen, I sang on stage for the first time and realized it was a more direct way to convey emotions. I changed my mind instantly and have been working towards becoming a musician ever since. 
Your music goes over the boundaries of genre: a little indie-pop, a little singer-songwriter, but also some clear electronic influences. How would you describe your own music?
I don’t really care about genres, I think they are a thing of the past. There’s a difference between death metal and techno, but is there really? Techno can be death metal if it is distorted enough and death metal can be techno if played slow enough. So I’ve given up on finding my own genre.
Your new album is coming out soon, but one song titled Money Towers has already been released. Did you write this about your time in Shanghai? What did you want to convey?
Actually, my entire album is about Shanghai and forms one chronological narrative. Money Towers is a song from the beginning and tells the story of a friend and me wandering the streets in a bizarre and drunken haze. We are looking at the skyscrapers with flashing screens that are trying to sell you all kinds of stuff – the money towers. At this particular moment, we were aware of how disassociated the moment felt and were wondering if we would even remember it at all.
In one of your older songs, Helium High, you address the feeling of entitlement some men seem to have over women. This is quite a political topic opposed to your more emotional songs. Did you create other more political songs, and is it something you want to continue in the future?
It is definitely something I want to do more in the future. However, it is difficult for me to write purely about political topics because I really have to feel an emotion in order to turn it into a song. I tried making songs about topics that are purely in my head but those never turned out right. As for Helium High, this is a song that translates my personal thoughts on feminism. To be more specific, the idea of a woman looking at men looking at women. I think it is something all women can relate to and something that personally bothered me, knowing that inside of me I have this image of how a man would see me and that influences my behaviour. 
You recently announced that you will create the music for a Greek tragedy titled Oresteia. How did this collaboration start?
I feel like I won the lottery, I’m very fond of books and movies and, over the past few years, I’ve created some minor soundtracks for various movies or projects. I wanted to further discover this side of music making when, one day, I got contacted by this award-winning director. Apparently, he has been a big fan of my music for years and he asked me to create the soundtrack for a Greek tragedy he was directing. The collaboration has been great so far, as the music will have a big significance for the play. The show won’t open for quite some time but we are already exchanging ideas both big and small, like the significance of a trumpet, for example. The little child in me that wanted to be a movie director is incredibly excited!
Where do you hope to be in a few years?
I am very slowly working towards releasing the album that comes after this one. Next to that, I really hope to have made a soundtrack for a real feature movie. Oh, and to be a superstar, of course, but that goes without saying.