I was on the third floor of a sprawling Norwegian boutique hawking custom Nikes, Bottega Veneta briefcases and trench coats that looked like they cost more than some of the uber-hip floor staff’s combined yearly salaries, when I was struck by the hygge of it all. The woman I’d been travelling with had mentioned ‘hygge’ earlier in the week, referring to the elusive Danish concept in hushed, reverent tones, underscored by sincere curiosity. Following a trip to Amsterdam last summer, I am only now cottoning on to the Scandinavians’ uncanny ability to be effortlessly cool, calm, collected. In the same way as Jamaicans render laughable all the exhausting sprint training of Americans, Scandinavian lifestyle design – all warm tones, minimalism, exotic coffee and expensive rainwear – puts attempts to be cool in all other parts of the world to shame.
The New Yorker ran a piece this week titled, ‘Is This Hygge?’, trying to nail down the impossibly intangible notion in wryly ironic fashion. They needn’t have bothered. The combination of variables needed to give rise to full-blown hygge (defined elsewhere as the art of comfort and contentment) is beyond calculation. Moreover, it defies pure geographical boundaries. Hygge enthusiasts – Oslo jeans stores, Amsterdam book shops, shockingly well-groomed baby-boomers spanning the Scandinavian Peninsula – don’t deeply consider those cultural and consumer devices that will best help them exude the warm confidence they’re going for. Instead, they cobble together elements of youth culture, cutting edge music, ridiculously lush furniture and mood lighting from wherever such good things lie to make you suddenly hyper-conscious of how you stand, what you listen to, what leather your shoes are made from.
This Mall Grab remix of Kllo’s ‘Walls To Build’ is superlatively hygge. I first heard it elsewhere but heard it again last week in Norway and was moved by just how hip it was. As far as origin stories for an Australian electronic duo go, it is fitting that Kllo are cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam from Melbourne, a.k.a. hygge capital of the southern hemisphere. The original is more Sydney-tropical than this remix, but Mall Grab’s rework, slotting seamlessly in a discography given ultimate expression in his bio as consisting of “mildly celestial ‘hella stoned’ introspections”, takes things to a higher, dustier plane. Mall Grab’s languid treatment of Chloe’s dulcet tones slows things right down but maintains that inner warmth such that ‘Walls To Build’ takes on an unhurried, sophisticated elegance. It recalls turn-of-the-century British neo soul, with the melodic quality of Moloko and the sultry vibes of best in class Craig David. I listened to it on repeat sixteen times in a row yesterday and all I could think of was getting into Swedish jeans, sitting on an Eames lounge chair and reading Wallpaper. Peak hygge.
Kllo – Walls To Build (Mall Grab Remix)