By Daniel Kohn
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Meet multilingual multi-instrumentalist Ghost Town Jenny, a.k.a. Kim Kylland.
Is it okay to call you by your given name, Kim Kylland?
So Ghost Town Jenny isn't a name you're adopting that you insist on being called?
No, but thank you for asking.
But it is the name of your solo music project. Any reason for the name?
Well, I didn't know if I wanted to go by my own name or what I wanted to do because I've had the songs for a long time. [Then] I went to the Cypress swap meet with a friend and there was a dumpster by where we parked full of old photographs from the '20s and '30s. They were beautiful. I ended up taking a box of them home. One of them was of this lady in kind of a pinup girl outfit. She's sitting on a rocking horse. But the horse is a donkey, and not a horse. And at the bottom, all it says is "Ghost Town Jenny."
Is there an origin for the project known as Ghost Town Jenny?
I had a backlog of songs that were never right for the bands I was in. I've been in a lot of bands throughout the years. I didn't really know how I wanted to record these songs or even what instruments I wanted to use on them. I've played guitar and ukulele for years, but lately I've felt constricted on them. The piano is something I've been writing a lot on because I'm not as familiar with it as I am with the other instruments. So it affords me newness. It's like learning a language or something.
Are you multilingual?
Yeah, I want to eventually be a translator. I go to a language school and my major in college is Japanese. And I'm going to Iceland this summer to study. I've been learning Icelandic for a few months. And I speak Norwegian. I have family there. That's another passion of mine—music and languages.
Does that have an effect on the way you write lyrics?
Kind of: it's kind of nice because it doesn't necessarily have to make so much sense. The words are the last thing I have to worry about, in a way. They can come from the music. It does change the way I write stuff, because sometimes it doesn't make sense. There are so many different ways to say things.
How does someone start playing the ukulele?
My friend Lauren learned it first. Then I just started playing and it turned out to be one of the easiest things I've learned—maybe because it's so little and I was already used to the guitar. There's something about it. I actually teach ukulele lessons at a music school in Costa Mesa called the Music Factory OC.
Do you have any local favorites?
Matt McCluer. Matt Adams' band the Blank Tapes—both are very inspirational to me. Portfolio Coffeehouse in Long Beach is one of my favorite places to play—the location, the sound. And the owner Todd is great.