The music industry is full of acts that were born from family ties: from the pop stylings of The Jackson 5 to the grungy sci-fi epics of Chevelle. One of the latest to hit the scene has been the dark cinematics of HØVDING, a Nashville-based project formed by singer and violinist, Nika Jane, and her father and producer, Geoff Duncan. The duo finds their primary inspiration from Nordic history and mythology, and you can feel the mystic undercurrent and palpable heartbeat that runs through each of their songs with urgency.
In the last week, I was able to catch them for an interview where we chatted about their music catalogue to-date, songwriting influences, and what the future holds for the band.
Charlie Maybee: How did this father-daughter music project begin? Do you always plan to make music together, or do you both have other projects you’re involved with?
Nika Jane: We had been talking about finding a project to do together, and our friends at Lyric House invited us to create a song for a TV show pitch they were working on. That song became our first single, “Caught Beneath The Water.” After that, it just made sense for us to make more music together because we had so much fun working on it.
Geoff Duncan: We both have other music projects we work on. I’m a producer and songwriter full-time, so I work on a range of projects with a huge variety of different artists. Working with Nika allowed us to explore some sounds and musical ideas the I haven’t really done much of before, so it was fun and refreshing. Nika has her own artist project, under the name Nika Jane, where she writes, produces, and mixes all the songs herself. That is such a cool project in more of an alt-pop, indie kind of way. So again, HØVDING gives her a different outlet.
CM: After listening to your string of singles released over the last year, it’s clear that HØVDING’s music feels very cinematic in scale. What kind of musical influences brought you to this particular blend of mystical and epic?
GD: Well, we both love dark and epic movies, and are big fans of Hans Zimmer and other film composers. We also love the villain character in stories so wanted to give the songs a sense of dread. Creating those tense sounds and huge dynamics makes the music feel really exciting to us.
NJ: There is a group from Norway called Danheim and another called Wardruna that capture this epic Viking feeling. We didn’t want to take it all the way Viking, but those vibes feel amazing. My ancestry on my mother’s side is Norwegian so I wanted to connect with that part of myself through the music as well. We also love dark, gothic Americana vibes too and wanted to push some of that into a dark, Nordic sound.
CM: Your latest single was a cover of the Eurhythmics classic “Sweet Dreams.” What drew you to offer your own rendition of the song?
NJ: For that song, we were invited by Lyric House to submit a cover tune, reimagined into a darker vibe, and we loved the challenge to take a bright 80s pop song and make it much darker and more serious. We loved making it!
GD: Exactly – to take a song from its original feeling and make it dark is so fun. I love how Nika’s violin textures and vocal production really create such a dark atmosphere for the song. It’s so fun and inspiring for me as her dad to watch her do her thing on our songs.
CM: What plans does HØVDING have for 2023? More singles? An EP or album? Any live shows?
GD: We’d love to explore more sounds, more instruments, more ideas for sure. We feel like we’ve only just started to scratch the surface of where HØVDING could go, creatively speaking.
NJ: Yes, and the live show idea is something we’ve been talking about. How to take what we do into a live experience and make it immersive and powerful. That would be so fun to explore. We’re excited about trying a lot of new things this year!
CM: What is one thing you both would like our readers at Alchemical Records to know about HØVDING’s music?
GD: For me, it’s important that people don’t just look at us and go “oh ok, the dad calls all the shots and the daughter is just the voice” – it’s so far from that. Nika is such an accomplished writer and musician that HØVDING couldn’t exist without her. She is fearless when it comes to pushing a lyric or melody into new territory and her violin textures and vocal production are such a vital part of what we do. I’m so inspired by how she creates music, and I learn so much from working with her.
NJ: I want people to hear the stories and the emotions and be inspired. Even though our themes are dark, they are usually ideas about facing huge challenges and overcoming them. Persevering, even in the face of dread and terrible odds. That’s how it makes us feel, and we want to share that with the people who hear our songs. We also want to say thank you so much for having us along to chat about our music! We really appreciate the support.
Be sure to follow HØVDING on Spotify for information about future releases, and listen to their string of epic singles from this past year (including their debut song, “Caught Beneath The Water,” which I had the pleasure of covering last year) on major streaming platforms.
Charlie Maybee is a dancer, musician, educator, and writer based in Charleston, South Carolina who currently teaches with the Dance Program at the College of Charleston. His primary work as an artist is with his performing collective, Polymath Performance Project, through which he makes interdisciplinary performance art that centers tap dance as the primary medium of expression and research. He also currently plays rhythm guitar for the Charleston-based punk band, Anergy, and releases music as a solo artist under the name Nox Eterna.
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