Young Knives (brothers Henry Dartnall and The House of Lords) are today sharing an animated video for their new single “Jenny Haniver”, created by Iman Mahdy. Following a series of unfiltered and unsettling self-made video releases from the band, throughout the release of new album Barbarians, they wanted to hand control of the visuals around “Jenny Haniver” to Iman Mahdy, who they met through the Women’s Music Project in Oxford and is part South London’s Blkbrd Collective. With the song itself being about perceptions of beauty, it felt natural that an artist external to the band would offer their own interpretation.
Henry offers his thoughts on the collaboration:
“The song itself is about perceptions of beauty. The female lead in the song is in one way, only there because it came from the name of the strange mixed-up creatures that appeared in Victorian side shows. But in another way the female lead is central to the concept of the song because we are two men who have grown up during a time when the attitude towards women has been continually challenged and discussed. The song is a reflection on the traditional view of women in relationships, and perhaps the old-fashioned male gaze and “phwoar” culture that used to be kind of accepted, or at least expected when we were younger. It’s also about the idea of perfection and beauty and when it gets so pushed in our society that it can become garish and ugly. As with most of our songs we are just playing with the words and not making any kind of point; it isn’t activism, it’s a reflection on the experiences of these things by two middle aged white fellas.
We were struggling when it came to the concept for the video because we make quite grotesque videos in general, and we really felt like it was time to hand it to someone else who would be able to bring out something different in the story. Iman’s illustrations and animation style has such a dream-like quality, and a real touch of something beautiful even in the weirdest of creatures, it felt like the perfect match.”
Watch the video for “Jenny Haniver” below.
During lockdown, the brothers have been hosting weekly livestreams from Henry’s house; social distancing observed with The House of Lords based in the now-famous caravan on the driveway, and Henry’s 11-year-old son Arthur on tech duties. The shows are viewable live via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter on Saturday nights at 8pm, and all of the Caravan Lockdown Livestreams so far can be enjoyed via the band’s website:
Barbarians is the band’s first album in seven years, following the highly acclaimed 2013 album Sick Octave. Barbarians was written, recorded and mixed by Young Knives in their studio near Oxford, UK. John Gray’s book Straw Dogs inspired the brothers to dial into the ultra-violent, brutal nature of human beings. Our progresses in science and knowledge have not made any of us any less barbaric: our entertainment is obsessed with it, our world is full of it. What if cruelty to others is just part of who we are? How do we live with that? Barbarians is a leap into sonic experimentation by a band who love to confuse and entertain in equal measure.
Barbarians is available on vinyl, CD, cassette and digital, with various tantalizing limited-edition options including a box set, alternative sleeve illustrated by artist Bevis Martin, pink splatter vinyl, screen prints, and ‘Freedom with a Big F’ manifesto / lyric book. The Barbarians shop is here.