As soon as Transylvanian left-field pop artist Jinka reached that 100% promising status, we knew that we had to ask this fascinating newcomer a few questions about her unique sound and deep-thinking creativity.
Discovered by MusicalHeARTBeat five months ago, the West Berlin based musician, singer, songwriter and producer released her debut “Trash From The Past” earlier this year, presenting listeners with a new kind of punkesque songwriting for a digital age. That first listen was summarised best by user HighClouds as one of “distortion, techno-pop, carelessness, surrealism and vision in a world where pop music often tends to be too polished and conventional.” This unconventional attitude can be heard through Jinka’s ensuing releases, “Flesh To White To Black To Flesh” and “Shock Mounted”. Each time this independent talent has shared a track, it’s been with a new spin on her style that really does escape all concise categorisation. Her approach to music very much conveys up the zeitgeist of young artists who refuse to colour within the lines.
Read on to learn a little more about Jinka, a true one-to-watch for 2018.
You’ve just released the addictive listen “Shock Mounted” accompanied by a surrealist music video. Where did you get the idea for the visuals?
First of all, I’d like to emphasize that Ossian Melin should get all the credit. His visual aesthetic is pretty unique. In the end it was him who envisioned the video from the few snippets of ideas I suggested. When I spoke to him for the first time I instantly felt like there was some sort of mutual understanding between the two of us – that whatever would be proposed by one of us would be appreciated by the other. That made me feel like I could be myself and come up with ideas quite intuitively.
The repeated “na na na” throughout the song would suggest a “whatever” attitude, but is being shock mounted really so carefree?
I think it’s a matter of perspective. When I’m performing or listening to the track today: yes. Back when I was writing “Shock Mounted”: no.
But I guess that’s part of why people make music: the process of writing – which at the heart is sonifying emotions, identities and ideologies – has the power to transform your perception and evaluation of events. It’s almost like alchemy.
Of course, “Shock Mounted” is not the first time that watchers may have been thrown off guard by your visuals if we think back to the Mario Clement-directed video for “Trash From The Past”. Are the visual arts something essential to this project?
The visual dimension of artistic expression generally is an important part in popular music culture. It kind of goes without saying that every release needs to be accompanied by a video or any sort of exciting visual complement. On the one hand this is a blessing because it gives you the opportunity to convey a more accurate picture of your artistic vision and personality. On the other hand we might have to question why it is so hard for music alone to gain attention. Our expectations might in fact discriminate artists who don’t provide over the financial means to deliver the whole package or simply wish to focus on different aspects of their artistry. Sharing your music with the world shouldn’t turn into a desperate competition for attention.
Another video that came to mind when watching “Trash From The Past” was Sälen’s “Diseasy”. Would that happen to have been an influence in part here? What did inspire that unusual video?
To be honest, I don’t know that video yet. But I’ll definitely check it out!
I guess Mario tried to capture the vibe of the almost chaotic sonic movement and density of the track and translated the central theme of the lyrics – which is “experiencing and forgetting” – into various kinds of semi-permanent prints on different organic and non-organic surfaces.
The track itself is all about distortion - taking the familiar and repurposing it for your own take on extroverted pop. How did you go about developing this unique sound?
This is something I haven’t reflected upon in detail yet. I believe that everything you do, every bit of information and atmosphere you absorb in every single second of your life makes you develop your distinct artistic langue as well as the drive to use it.
Are you still working in your home studio-come-sonic laboratory in West Berlin?
Yes, I do! I might have written a couple of tracks elsewhere, but a main part of the production happens in my home studio. I prefer the neighborhoods in the western part of Berlin because what I call “pop-cultural tourism’’ hasn’t really arrived there yet. I don’t like what the Berlin people are looking for when they come here from other hip places.
What drew you to Berlin’s music scene?
I moved here from Brighton (UK) about five years ago. It made sense for me because I was touring a lot with a German artist back then and already knew a lot of musicians that were living in Berlin. I probably should add that as soon as I arrived I felt that I had found the location that should shape whatever I was about to create.
Am I right in thinking that you moved to Berlin from the Transylvanian region of Romania? Do you think your home had an influence on you as an artist?
I actually grew up in Germany, but I think that my Transylvanian origin nevertheless had an influence on me. At least because people always thought I was somewhat alien and hard to define or categorize. At some point I noticed that instead of trying to fit in it might be more healthy for me to accentuate the features of my personality and work that others regarded as being odd.
I had so much fun and got so delirious that I can’t remember a thing. This is why I probably wouldn’t be able to report objectively.
How is your live set different or the same from what we hear recorded?
It’s very similar actually. Of course, the emphasis is on different elements of the production because some of them develop different meanings in a live environment. And there’s three human beings interacting on stage which shouldn’t be neglected.
You described “Trash From The Past” as having a “punkesque stop-and-go structure.” Do you think your style is derived from a punk mentality, culture or approach to music?
Actually not really. I was hanging with punks in my teenage skateboarding days, but neither listened to Punk music nor was part of the corresponding underground culture. With “punkesque’’ I was probably referring to the anarchic power of the noisy parts of the track as well as to the abrupt and frequent shifts from highly energetic to more relaxed parts and vice versa.
You write, sing, record and produce all these tracks, so would you say that having creative control is important to you?
I guess it is to every artists. But I also believe that to be attentive to how other people perceive your music and to be able to incorporate their feedback into your work is even more important. Whenever I’m uncertain about something I turn to Tobias Kuhn. He has been my mentor for quite a while now and has contributed to some of my tracks.
You also allowed Hranrad to remix, or should I say totally reinvent, “Black To Flesh To White To Flesh”. How did you two connect?
He’s a friend of my bestie Julia Wolkenhauer. She’s a photographer and has taken most of my press pics (including my cover art work). I met Hranrad at one of her shoots. When I asked him if he would like to act in the “Flesh To White to Black To Flesh’’ video he mentioned he was also making music and would like to remix the track.
How did it feel to hear your creation through someone else’s sonic lense?
I get extremely excited and happy when I’m listening to a remix for the first time. It’s sort of like a rebirth of your music. Sometimes you’ve been working on a track for such a long time that you know, love and hate every single detail of it. Listening to a remix is like sleeping in fresh bedclothes if you know what I mean. Playing your tracks live has a similar effect by the way.
Can we expect to hear more of your hypnagogic sounds in the near future?
Almost definitely before spring kicks in. But it’s probably rather going to be something of the uplifting type.
What else do you have planned for the new year? Perhaps some more shows?
Yes! 2018 is all about more shows. And releasing more music of course.