Zyna Hel
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Zyna Hel

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Electronic Pop




"Saturday at Wickerman 2015: Zyna Hel, Wells & Moffat, The Sonics"

Self-proclaimed disco witch Zyna Hel recently secured funding to record her debut album and is thus in confident mood when she struts on stage. The Solus tent might be a little sparse for her mid-afternoon set, but you can confidently predict those who are here could be boasting about their foresight before long. Backed by two synth players, her sound and visual style recall the glamour of Goldfrapp with the production of M83, most notably on recent download single Constellation Woman. Her sound may be more suited to a dark Berlin nightclub than a clammy Galloway tent, but it works equally well. - The Skinny

"Exposure: Zyna Hel"

The name may not ring a bell just yet, but it might soon. By the way, it’s pronounced like Xena, her teen idol, the princess warrior, and that’s Hel, as in the Norse goddess of the Underworld. Occult-loving, dark electronic pop artist Zyna, real name Elisabeth Oswell, who mixes sparse machine beats with a classically trained vocal, has an upcoming single, ‘Catacombs’ produced by Blanck Mass, live shows at Stereo and Wickerman festival, and a moreish Twitter account full of RuPaul love, class struggles and Frida Kahlo wardrobe appreciation. We caught up with her, midway through unpacking in her new flat (she’s just moved to Glasgow to live with partner, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite) to talk new music, current government and inspirations from the past.

I’ve already got endless Pinterest boards of inspiration for the first video, which should be out in a few months. I studied music performance and visual art in Brighton, so I’m very aesthetically driven. The visual side of what I do is hugely important, but that does not mean that I want to achieve a certain level of beauty or something, more like I value self-expression and creativity. It bugs me that very talented women often get reviewed, but they’ll mention their hair or clothes before they discuss the instrumentation or songwriting. Talk about women’s appearances often precedes talk about their accomplishments; as a feminist that annoys me. I’m a feminist that also happens to enjoy shiny clothes and make-up.

On the No Wave scene:
I’m pretty fascinated by the 80s No Wave scene, and these people all sharing this impulse to create. Kids that just did what the fuck they wanted, even if they couldn’t even play an instrument. I just watched Industrial Soundtrack for The Urban Decay at The Art School, which has people like Throbbing Gristle, NON and Test Dept in it. I loved it and actually found it really inspiring. And in Britain, good music was still being made under the Thatcher regime. There was footage of protests from the early 80s and it struck me just how similar the slogans were then and now. But it seemed so encouraging that amazing artists still managed to thrive. That’s exciting to me.

On the recent elections:
I’m so disappointed that this government is in power. They show no signs of supporting the arts. I cried all weekend after that result. Still, that industrial music documentary gave me faith; they can try, but they can’t kill art.

On her favourite female musicians:
I love artists with a strong sense of identity. Obviously Kate Bush: who doesn’t love her? Patti Smith, who I hope to see in Glasgow soon. [Berlin-based synth-pop group] Ballet School: Rosie Blair is an amazing performer. Kim Gordon: she’s a hero. I supported Sonic Youth years ago with my old band Hush Arbors. I would totally recommend her book. People said she overshared about her relationship with Thurston Moore; I say she’s entitled to be outspoken, I love her all the more for it. Glasgow’s Sharp Tooth are amazing too. I played with them and Tuff Love at a TYCI night not long ago.

On co-habiting:
Less than a week of us living together and Stuart was already wearing my 101 Dalmatians pyjama bottoms. They’re blue, he really suits them. - The List Magazine


Zyna Hel is the new avant-pop project from leftfield musician Elizabeth Oswell, who colours her lyrics with a melancholic tone and conjures up imagery that radiates genuine poetic potency. With a sonorous voice, Oswell drives the words to the forefront, and her restrained soundscapes – sometimes built of little more than a sparse drum pattern and a synth loop – leave her with little to hide behind. “There’s an atmosphere I want to create around my words and my voice doesn’t lend itself to fuller instrumentation” she explains. “I listen to a lot of doom metal, drone, Stars of the Lid, Earth, Labradford; artists who have a minimalist approach, and perhaps this has subconsciously influenced me”. It’s got us gripped, and we’ve began digging through an intriguing curriculum vitae which boasts collaborative work with the revered underground musician Andrew Liles. “Andrew and I met for the first time in Italy a few years ago when I was playing with a band called Hush Arbors”, she tells us. “A little while later I sang for him on Mind Mangled Trip Monster, a record about coming to the realisation that there is no God. We recorded in his studio right next to the graveyard where Sylvia Plath is buried, and although I usually can’t sing someone else’s lyrics, the energy was right and it felt very natural to me”. Aside from music, Oswell has dipped into realms of visual and performance art, and she admits she’s got a tendency to get sidetracked by her creative instincts, “I could get into crochet next month and end up playing gigs wearing knitted catsuits”. But we feel assured that she’s channelling plenty of energy into this project, because Zyna Hel’s music feels like it’s erupting.
- Crack Magazine


'Mind Mangled Trip Monster- All Voices by Elisabeth (Zyna)- Dirter 2010

'Constellation Woman' Soundcloud release, 2014. 



Zyna Hel is the musical solo project of award-winning, multi disciplinary artist, Elisabeth Oswell. Centred around her mesmerising vocals, Oswell makes futuristic, ethereal pop music woven with poetically potent lyrics.

Following a string of successful collaborations with Andrew Liles (Nurse With Wound, Current 93), John Fryer (This Mortal Coil) and Benjamin John Power (Fuck Buttons) and after stunning audiences at ATP, The Great Escape, Wickerman and Rockaway Beach, Oswell was awarded the prestigious 'Women Make Music' fund from PRSF to record her debut album. Zyna Hel's first release is set for early 2016.

Band Members