The Winehouse Mag

"That music undresses and caresses any woman I’ve been interested in." Bernhoft  

When you see Jarle Bernhoft, better known as, Bernhoft, perform live you instantly become a fan. The Norwegian retro-soul singer is literally a one man army and has become one of the most compelling—and exciting—performers because of it. Performing with just a guitar, electronic gadgets, a Fender Rhodes and unmatched charisma, he makes stripping away the bells and whistles seem like a luxury rather than a necessity.

Hugely popular in Europe, in the past year he has begun making waves in North America as well. From Ellen DeGeneres becoming a fan after seeing his video “C’mon Talk” on YouTube, to a woman offering to let her four-year-old son shave her head on stage in order to see Bernhoft perform at Bonnaroo, he’s got folks buzzing. Now back in Toronto, on June 5, for his second show in 4 months, he’s no longer soul music’s best kept secret.

A few days before his show at the Mod Club, Bernhoft talks dream duet with Jill Scott (turns out Scott is a fan of Bernhoft as well), Buddy Holly typecasting, and the ultimate baby-making album. Chaka V.


“Good music has increased its chances of survival by miles.” Bernhoft

You can hear a little Stevie Wonder in your voice, and your socially conscious lyrics are reminiscent of Marvin Gaye. Are there any secret musical influences that fans would be surprised to learn about?

You heard of Lewis Taylor? Chances are probably slim, but he’s this British guy who completely shook me outta my shoes with his first album, called ‘Lewis Taylor.’ Since then his album quality levels has dropped somewhat, and he was properly inducted in the hall of weird when he reportedly sued his own fan club on the grounds of being fed up with his own artistry. He is rumored to be working as a plumber in Sheffield these days. Life has some twists and turns, eh? Wish I could lure him out to do a collab. Sue me!

Macy Gray remade Stevie Wonder’s 1972 “Talking Book” in 2012.  Is there an album you would remake in its entirety?

Well, aforementioned ‘Lewis’ is a hot candidate, or ‘Fresh’ by Sly & the Family Stone. I guess they’d be more purposeful for my own education than anything else. There’s this band called Big Daddy who’s made a rockabilly-style remake of ‘Sgt Pepper’ [Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles]. How about a soul rendition of ‘Pet Sounds’? Fun for me at least, I’ll probably get threats on my life from die hard Beach Boys fans.

“Choices” Video

Who do you listen to when you need to decompress and just chill?

Wind, trees and water. No music can compare. Or wait, Supersilent is a great candidate; wild, noisy improv from mad Norwegian sound scientists. Always tranquillizes me.


“I’m lucky to be here right now, enjoying the fruits of that huge democratizing tool that is the Internet.” Bernhoft


Who would you love (or would have loved) to collaborate with?

Jill Scott! And I’m actually trying! Other than that I’m a bit jealous of that strange man with lousy driving skills, George Michael, for doing a duet with Aretha Franklin. Shoulda been me, man. But I still have a chance, she’s still going.

Besides your own albums, name the sexist album ever?

I find it hard to beat ‘Voodoo’ on that note. D’Angelo stumbled across something there that’s just fantastically productive in terms of spawning new life. That music undresses and caresses any woman I’ve been interested in.

If you were to play any musician, living or dead, who would it be?

I’d have a shot at Buddy Holly, I think. I could think of a few more musically challenging characters, but I have an eye for typecasting.

C’mon Talk Video

You are brilliant at both songwriting and performing. Are you a songwriter first and performer second or vice-versa?

Thanks! I think I’m a performer first, in the sense that I so deeply appreciate and respect that immediate situation, where something is created in the moment, never to return. That’s cosmic collisions of events right there, and although I love the potential time-travelling qualities of good writing, it can never quite compare with the now of performance.

How does it feel to have your music reaching an international audience, as well as gaining such a loyal global fan base?

Feels very good! I think I’m lucky to be here right now, enjoying the fruits of that huge democratizing tool that is the Internet. YouTube, and MySpace before that; I mean, compared to the times where you needed help and tons of cash to get international distribution, this is a dream era. Just upload and go. Good music has increased its chances of survival by miles. Or tons. Or even Kelvin. What’s the scale?

Bernhoft will be at the Mod Club on June 5th.

Related Posts: Bernhoft Live at the Drake Hotel


Check out Bernhoft!

Solidarity Breaks



Photo: (C) Fred Jonny

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chaka V. is a writer,  journalist, and the creator of the Winehouse Mag.



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