Hanne HukkelbergView in iTunes
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A Norwegian singer and songwriter with links to that country's jazz, electronic, and experimental music scenes, Hanne Hukkelberg makes intimate, idiosyncratic music that is not easily categorized, combining a wide stylistic range of folk, pop, and jazz with a predilection for unusual sounds, often culled from everyday objects, and a stunning, versatile voice that has garnered comparisons to Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, and Björk, among others. Born in Kongsberg in 1979, Hukkelberg began singing and playing at the age of three -- discovering early on the musical potential of kitchen utensils -- and has barely stopped since, picking up the piano, guitar, and drums, along with countless noisemaking oddities; studying at the National Academy of Music in Oslo (where she graduated in 2003); and performing with a variety of metal, prog rock, and free jazz ensembles up through her early twenties (including a high-school doom metal band called Funeral). In 2004 she worked with producer Kåre Vestrheim, best known for his work with jazz-metal fusionists Shining, as well as musicians from that group, experimental jazz ensemble Jaga Jazzist, playful electronic duo Exploding Plastix, and eclectic producer Kaada, to create her debut album, Little Things, a sweetly whimsical, subtly electronic affair. Issued domestically on Vestrheim's Propellor imprint, the album was fittingly licensed to the genre-bending Leaf Label, which released both Little Things and the four-song Cast Anchor EP internationally in 2005. Hukkelberg moved to Berlin for six months while working on her follow-up, the somewhat darker, more emotionally fraught Rykestraße 68, which featured many of the same musicians (and Vestrheim returning as producer) and included a cover of the Pixies' "Break My Body," a staple of her live sets. Upon its release in 2006, the album won a Spellemannsprisen (Norwegian Grammy) in the catchall "open class" category. Rykestraße 68 was released by Nettwerk in Europe in 2007 and North America in 2008, with a corresponding round of touring to support each release date. ~ K. Ross Hoffman