Carmen Villain is the moniker of Carmen Maria Hillestad, the Norwegian and Mexican songwriter/producer whose sophomore album Infinite Avenue will be out next month. It follows Planetarium, the EP she released earlier this summer. The cover of Infinite Avenue features a photograph of the actress Gena Rowlands, whose work served as inspiration for some of the themes on the album; Hillstad is drawn to Rowlands’ ability to express a range of emotions without outwardly explaining why she’s feeling a certain way.
“Borders” is Carmen Villain’s newest single, and it features fellow Norwegian experimentalist Jenny Hval, who released her most recent album Blood Bitch last year. “Borders” is built off of a hushed, meditative loop that pulls you into a trance as Hval tells an abstract story in her distinct, high range. “I was so afraid/ I felt that I had died/ That night on the border to Arizona/ Where they put up border control/ And you only go enter if you’re white,” she sings. The chorus presents listeners with a broad message that appeals to these dark days we’re living in. “They feed us fear (like the starry sky sky)/ And call to arms (only seen)/ In them vs. us rhetoric (if you’re white).”
Hillestad shared some thoughts on the song’s context: “I built the instrumental version from these vocal loops, and sent it through to Jenny, and she delivered this fever dream trip with knockout choruses. Her lyrics brought out memories of a real life nightmare of my own, so I added my own story of post 9/11 borders and the rage and fear I felt after witnessing so much racism.”
Infinite Avenue is out 9/8 on Smalltown Supersound. Pre-order it here.