Hot Breath – it hurts me when I get questions about my gender instead of the music and lyrics I write

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After the impressive first album “Rubbery Lips” Jennifer Israelsson talks about the quarantine, the debut, Honeymoon Disease and gets mad when sex discrimination in rock and metal is mentioned. She is adamant that she is not thinking about her gender unless someone asks her about it – just like we did. Carrying her past experiences both good and bad she looks into the future with no rules for Hot Breath’s music and definitely avoiding to pigeonhole the band at all costs.

Rockpages.gr: What did you do during the pandemic/what’s the first thing you’re going to do when it’s over?

Jennifer Israelsson: We have continued to write new material and build on Hot Breath as a band during the pandemic. When the doors start to open again, we will of course, like many other bands, want to go out and tour and play as much as possible.

Rockpages.gr: How is it to form a band and release your debut album, although you’ve been in other bands before and you’ve done it already?

Jennifer Israelsson: Personally, I think the most fun is right at the beginning with a new band. Everything is new and fresh and there are no expectations. Everything is like a surprise, and that’s thrilling!

Rockpages.gr: Having the experience of previous bands, or other bands that you are playing at the moment, what are the things you told yourself you weren’t going to do in this band, Hot Breath?

Jennifer Israelsson: We take with us both good and bad experiences from our previous bands and it benefits us very much. Everything from how we divide different tasks to the fact that we may think of an extra time when we have to decide the release date for different releases. What we know from experience works best or worst, that’s probably what we take with us the most.

Rockpages.gr: Your self-titled EP was released in October 2019. Why did it take you so long to release the album?

Jennifer Israelsson: We do not think it took that long to release the EP given that we just got to know each other musically. It was actually while we were writing the songs for the EP that we actually got to know each other and felt that we wanted to go in the same direction musically.

Rockpages.gr: My favourite songs on the album, at the moment, are “Last Barang” and “Who’s The One”. What can you tell us about those?

Jennifer Israelsson: ‘Last Barang’ actually started with the lyrics that Jimmy (drums) had started writing and at the same time as he had presented the lyrics, I had started writing a riff that we thought fit well with it. The song is about putting a spell on someone who has treated you badly for a while, in the end you don’t know what to do more than practice voodoo on that person. Sky’s the limit, more or less.

‘Who’s the one’ has had many working names and different meanings for all of us in the band. It’s a different song if you compare it to the other songs on the record, so that was probably why that song took the longest time to finish writing. During that writing process, I finally wrote the lyrics that became the final lyrics to the song and for me it was probably the first time during the process the song felt complete. ‘Who’s the one’ is about when the light goes out and the flame burns out in a relationship. Whose fault is it and why did it turn out the way it did?

Rockpages.gr: What happened to Honeymoon Disease? In my eyes it was a successful band getting coverage and recognition, had cool songs and the support of a label. What did go wrong?

Jennifer Israelsson: A band is like a relationship. If you do not want to go in the same direction, it will not work. It may sound cliché but that’s exactly how it is and that’s exactly what happened to Honeymoon Disease.

Rockpages.gr: Being a girl in a man-dominated environment such as the rock and metal scene, have you ever fallen a victim of racist/sexist behavior, gender discrimination, or even abuse? If yes, what advice would you give others in case something similar happens to them?

Jennifer Israelsson: Yes, gender discrimination is exactly what I am experiencing right now, right? A tip is to be interested in the music I write instead of asking how I “handle” being a woman and playing rock. It’s pretty simple actually.

Rockpages.gr: Having a girl, or more, in a band may seem to some people as an easy way to grab attention for the obvious (and wrong) reasons, especially if there is sort skirts, tight shirts, you get the picture! What do you think of that, do you think some bands might do this on purpose? Do you think that people might think the same about Hot Breath?

Jennifer Israelsson: I have always been convinced that it is the music I write and play that matters. I rarely think about what gender I am, but the times I do it are mainly when questions like these are asked. It hurts me quite a bit when I’m in a band and get questions about my gender (and how I deal with it?) instead of the music and lyrics I write. My gender is completely irrelevant in this context. Just like the others in Hot Breath.

Rockpages.gr: Gothenburg is like a melting pot of bands in the rock/metal scene and I guess the same goes for the entire country of Sweden. How come so much and so good music comes from your country? What are the most important Swedish bands in your opinion?

Jennifer Israelsson: I think a lot depends on the conditions we have in Sweden when it comes to cultural grants. We get a lot of help from various study associations to find rehearsal rooms from an early age and that these associations also help with gigs, recordings and contributions to this. When I look back on my youth, I am incredibly grateful to have received the help I actually received, because who knows, otherwise I might not have been where I am today.

Rockpages.gr: Playing live shows and festivals with Hot Breath and the other bands did you get to meet your heroes, or bands and artists you admire? How was it? Was it like you expected?

Jennifer Israelsson: Unfortunately, we have not had time to tour anything with Hot Breath due to the pandemic. But in previous bands, I’ve definitely met people I have looked up to for a long time.

But it’s weird, because even though I have met some of my biggest idols, it has hardly felt that way. After all, we have been to the same place to do the same thing, play music. And that’s something we are united in and therefore it becomes de-dramatized. So no, it has not been like I expected.

Rockpages.gr: The whole rawk, garage, rock’n’roll revival movement can get stagnant. What is your secret to keep things fresh and interesting?

Jennifer Israelsson: Not having any rules about how the music should sound. That is probably what makes it continue to be fresh and interesting.

I think there are many bands that want to sit in special compartments. In Hot Breath we were very clear from the beginning that our music can be played everywhere. Both at hard rock festivals and on the radio.

Rockpages.gr: If you had a time machine and you could travel back in time, but you had to choose only between two destinations, London in the late 60s” and Detroit in the early ‘70s, which one would you choose and why?

Jennifer Israelsson: Oh that was a really difficult question.

Even though I love early Alice Cooper and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, my heart still chooses London in the late 60’s. Bands like Stones, The Spencer Davis Group and the Beatles are still very close to my heart. There is something about their attitude and honesty in the music that I can’t really explain but which on the other hand feels right into the soul.