Norwegian alt-pop chanteuse Ane Brun is releasing two new compilations tomorrow, with Songs 2013-2023 collecting some of her best work in the last decade. Meanwhile, Portrayals sports some of Brun’s popular cover tunes. Both albums are being released on the artist’s label, Balloon Ranger Records. Brun is also heading out on her 20th-anniversary tour of Europe, kicking off in Helsinki later this year.
Brun creates exceptional atmospheric pop that conveys the vastness of the Norwegian fjords while possessing a bright inner warmth. It’s an entrancing combination that draws the listener deep into her mesmerizing music. The previously unreleased “Hand in the Fire” is a perfect case in point. It begins with gentle rumblings before Brun’s ethereal voice enters, and the downtempo music creates an introspective, probing, soul-searching track. The electronics build the feeling of melancholy and occasional bits of strings add to the mood.
Brun says, “I wrote this song on a day off in a Tuscan garden in the summer of 2022. I was sketching on my small Martin guitar, accompanied by birds singing and a hot Italian sun. What is it to be completely you, to be completely free?” For the video, Brun enlisted the help of members of the Gothenburg Opera Dance Company to perform gorgeous movements that perfectly pair with the music and reveal emotional inner searching for meaning and freedom.
Brun says, “This video would not exist without my experience with ‘12 Songs’ in 2023 with the Gothenburg Opera Dance Company. It was a very special experience for me. I was surrounded by these world-class dancers on stage, and I performed the orchestral versions of my music at the same time as I was an integral part of the choreography. It became the most amazing artistic challenge of my career so far.
“So when we were producing a music video for the new track, “Hand in the Fire”, I wanted to invite some of the dancers to express the inner complexity and contrasted emotions ’Hand in the Fire’ is about. I wanted them to be my emotional tentacles. The dancers and I started the work by improvising the song in a dance studio in Gothenburg, and we continued the exploration of the movements while recording the video in Oslo. The choreography in the video is improvised.”
The video’s director, Shruti Ganguly, tells PopMatters that “as she celebrates her 20th year of starting her own label, Ane wanted to push herself to new boundaries artistically, and so in our collaboration, I felt that I had to do that as well and experiment with new ideas and methods. Working with the dancers, Ane and our DP Daniel Kedem, we set a space for improvisation within the context of the idea – that the notion of putting your hand in the fire as an act of being brave exploration could be manifested in how one needs to break free of the tentacles of self-doubt that hold us back. The dancers push/pull, consume Ane, and ultimately, she will become free and independent, moving past them into a new transient space.