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Ghost Town Jenny's Kim Kylland was born in Huntington Beach, but once she hit 17, she left to explore the world. Though bassist Eric Golding and drummer Shane Thompson are fellow Orange Countians, Matt Kollar (piano/keys) is from Canada, and synth man Johan Svensson joins the band from Jonkoping in southern Sweden. "He mainly just watched The O.C. on Swedish television and thought that all people who lived in Orange County reside in beachside mansions and spend their days just working on their tan," Kylland says. "Then I took him to Garden Grove. . . ."
OC Weekly: Do you miss living here?
Kim Kylland: Since leaving OC, I have rather enjoyed living abroad and experiencing new things. Except for about 11 months in 2005-06, when I moved back to Costa Mesa briefly, I have been away from OC for most of my adult life. I have been lucky enough to live in Japan, Ireland, Iceland and Norway, and it's really opened me up as a person, both culturally and emotionally. It took me a long time to admit it, but I do miss OC. I think when I moved, and in the years following, I kind of had the mentality of a being "free from the mundane" . . . you know, giving the long finger to my "boring" hometown, as I am sure so many kids have done. When I moved, I was leaving a sort of troubled family past behind me, and it felt so liberating to be able to re-invent myself with every new city and country I lived in. I'm pretty comfortable with being a chameleon. But my intense feelings of wanderlust and reinvention have always been punctuated by bits of homesickness and the need for familiarity . . . like a longing for a simpler time. I do miss the days of my youth when all I did was ride horses or go to the beach, or find some pool to break into with my friends. In my memory, OC is this endless summer of pool parties and horses.
Where does the name Ghost Town Jenny come from?
The name originally comes from a found photograph [which can be seen on facebook.com/ghosttownjenny]. But over the years, it has taken on a new meaning. Ghost Town Jenny has sort of become my more extroverted alter ego. When performing, I tend to feel this weird buzzing energy that I never have at any other time. It's like I am a stranger to myself when I watch our live performances later on in videos. The faces I make and the movements I do are not really mine, yet they are. I am pretty calm normally, but when playing, I feel . . . different. Mix alcohol into that equation, and forget about it. I wake up the next day and find out my fingers were bleeding from playing guitar too hard, and as a result, my guitar looks like it was murdered, or I ripped my favorite dress, or I broke something. I don't drink before playing shows anymore because the energy I have is already really intense; drinking alcohol just makes me feel like a banshee. So half-jokingly, I began referring to that intense, wide-eyed "person" I become as Ghost Town Jenny—my unreserved, gregarious inner self. A lot of interviewers, promotors and sound guys at clubs and festivals think my name is Jenny, too. I just go with it.
You've used Kickstarter to fund your band's gig in Iceland. Has crowd-sourcing been useful for other things?
Our last trip to Iceland was the only time I have ever used crowd-sourcing actually. . . . It was really cool, the way our friends, family and fans pulled together to help us live out a dream, by getting us to Reykjavik to play at Iceland Airwaves music festival. But honestly, if I ever did anything like that again, I would use a different website or organize a series of benefit concerts, as Kickstarter's cut of the profits was unreasonably high. It was a special experience, though, in a communal sense, to know that we were on that plane because of people believing in and being moved by our music.
The Internet: Love it, or leave it?
Love it. Where else can you watch videos of squealing penguins and snoring dormice, all while downloading episodes of Downton Abbey? I also think the Internet is the most useful tool an independent musician has these days. You can directly connect with people who listen to your songs and come to your shows. You can also distribute your own records and videos instantly to millions of people all over the world. You could not do that without the help of a major label 20 years ago.
This column appeared in print as "Giving the Finger to Her Hometown."