Schlagwort: Iceland

Sleepless in Reykjavík – An interview with Sóley

Sóley’s third album “Endless Summer” raises questions. After her dreamy debut “We Sink” and the almost depressive “Ask the Deep” we began thinking she can’t surprise us anymore – but then she suddenly does the unthinkable: creating cheerful music. At least that’s what she claims. Scenic lyrics are still combined with the piano and a remarkable voice. Apart from that she did not only paint her studio in new colours but also definitely stopped killing clowns. Nevertheless she accidentally ended up in an Icelandic thriller. Weird stuff. We have questions. So many questions.

An interview by Moritz Bouws and Gregor van Dülmen


Congratulations for your new album which is called “Endless Summer”. Is that a desire you have during these long Icelandic winters – to have an endless summer?

Yeah, in a way. Because I started writing it in January and it can be quite dark in Iceland then. So there is always this time when you’re craving for summer. Actually the title came up before I started writing the album. Consequently, I decided to make an album that is going to be called “Endless Summer” although I didn’t know how it would sound.

It’s also linked to the Icelandic summer because the sun never goes down, so it feels kind of endless. You just wake up, there’s a new day and you never go to sleep – there’s so much energy. It’s kind of a mixture of both craving for summer and the endless character of the Icelandic summer. Everything fades into each other, like day and night.

In comparison to your previous record “Ask the deep”, which was released in 2015, “Endless Summer” apparently has a far more optimistic approach. You dedicated the opening song (Úa) to your two year old daughter. Would you say that this optimism is due to the impact your daughter has on your work recently?

Probably in a way, yes. It’s funny how children change your life. I don’t know if you have got children, but life will never be the same. First, I’m more tired and I’d never been that tired in my life before. But when you see a child born, there’s just a weird thing going on. Life is just amazing. Having a child is amazing. I never wanted to write ‚mommy songs‘ or something like that. But it definitely has an effect on how I want to be. Obviously I want to be a good role model for her. I don’t want to be in this depressing shit all my life. I guess this is my attempt to get out, like crawling back seeing the lights of the happy end of the tunnel thinking, “I wanted to go there. This is where I want to be.” Maybe she inspired me in a good way. Well, I’m pretty sure she does.

Recording impressions:

source: Twitter

And apart from your daughter: what influences you when you make music? For instance, you painted the walls of your studio purple and yellow. Does it matter which colours are surrounding you?

I think so. I think it’s the mood I’m in, the emotional state I’m in when I make albums. I had a plan for this album: I wanted to write a song in a major key. That was one of my goals, because I never had written songs in a major key. So now I achieved that. Besides I wanted to make more music just with piano and voice, going back to my roots. I love sitting by the piano playing a theme. Apart from that I wanted to challenge myself a bit. Regarding the compositions I tried to make it more complex. I just wanted to sit by the piano and make a new album. So I sat down and those songs just came out. That’s what I did.

Which colours are you going to choose for your next album?

Well, that’s a good question. Which are the remaining options? My daughter’s favourite colour is pink. First I replied, “Don’t you like black?”, but she said, “No, I like pink and purple and glitter and gold.” However, I think about a lot of colours when I’m writing albums. For this one I preferred brighter colours. With regard to that my friend Inga (Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir), who does the artwork, and me have a close collaboration. I told her about the colours I was thinking about and she made it kind of bluish. There’s also a little bit of pink in there. But in the end she decides. I have these ideas of colours, but it’s her work to make it visually look like how it sounds. To answer you question, obviously pink will be the colour for the next album.

Album cover by Birgisdóttir Ingibjörg

Last year you played a small tour in order to try if people like your new songs and the new major key sound. Did you really fear losing the interest of your audience while working on your new album?

Hmmm, good question! I don’t know. It was like this: I showed the album to people saying, „Guys, I made a happy album.“ And everyone who listened to it replied, „It’s not really happy.“ I assume I have a lower standard of happiness than other people. I couldn’t really act like “la la la la”, so we are meeting in the middle. I think it’s not a happy album. It’s more an album where you crave for what you love. Would I love an endless summer? I don’t think so. But I like craving for it. I kind of like it, when you have this desire for summer.

On this tour you also introduced your new live band, including a small orchestra and a second vocalist. What are the main differences playing with such a huge ensemble in comparison to the minimalistic sets you used to play before?

It’s much more fun. I won’t say anything against my friends who were working in my band, they’re unquestionably great. But what I love about it is that I actually could play these songs acoustically without any amplification. I don’t like my voice quietly. Composing and arranging a band is what I always want to do. I definitely would like to make an album with a symphonic orchestra. Maybe the next one, we’ll see. At the moment we’re rehearsing for the upcoming tour but having a big band on tour is quite expensive. In fact there’s a willingness on both sides, but financially we have to wait what happens. It definitely will be a bigger band.

Sóleys aktuelle Single “Grow”:

Quelle: YouTube

Your Berlin concert on that tour was at a church (Passionskirche Kreuzberg). This year in May you come back to Berlin and play a show at a church again (Apostel-Paulus-Kirche in Schöneberg). In Cologne you play at „Kulturkirche“, which also was a church once. Why do you choose churches? Is it just the sound?

Yes, on the one hand it’s the acoustics. Even though it sometimes can evoke a crazy reverb. But that’s the problem of my sound technician. On the other hand I also think when you enter a church the vibe is totally different to when you go to a club. I’m not a big fan of me playing in a club because I don’t think it fits me or my project. So I’m always trying to be at sitting shows where people are not really drunk but listen for an hour and then go for a drink. Because I love just sitting down and listening, enjoying.

And your show in Leipzig is at Felsenkeller which is quite a special venue, too. As you possibly know all these cities are well-known for having many music clubs. Is this characteristic important to you when you are on tour?

I love Germany. I’d like to live in Germany. I like both playing in bigger cities and small towns in Germany, Italy, and so on. It’s also nice to visit towns you’ve never heard about before and to see so many people showing up. It’s a nice mixture of both. It’s also hard when you play only big cities. It’s a longer drive. But it makes sense to do it in a way. I like both. And I love Leipzig.

What’s really interesting for us is the close collaboration that within the Icelandic artistic scene you’re a part of. You support each other on records, go on tour together, and apart from that established artists don’t forget to promote young talents. Do networks like Icelandic Music Export Office play a role for these collaborations or are all of you just friends who support each other in creating their own music?

I think both. Export Office has a really important part in the Icelandic scene. They have contacts and they are willing to help artists – like even me when I’m lost in the music industry. We have a coffee and we talk about it. And it’s important for new bands, too. I’m thirty, I don’t know people who are twenty and starting making music now. So I’m just growing up with my generation of the music scene. I think these networks are really important to get to know each other. There are just tons of bands and musicians, and there a young kids who do cool stuff. So people just talk about new stuff and then go taking it out.

But can you still say that generally you all know each other?

Yes. If we don’t know each other we know the same friends. It’s really small. So it’s really hard not to know each other. The music scene is really close, we’re all buddies. And it’s fun.

The Icelandic music export obviously works very well. Your last album “Ask the Deep” even was used for a German TV crime television series. Do you know about this?

Ehm, what is it called?

“Der Island-Krimi”. Like “The Icelandic Crime Show”.

Really? I don’t know everything that happens with my music. But I might have gotten an email about that. Okay, that’s funny.

It was a big production, starring Franka Potente. So everybody knows you now in Germany.
Is it a crime show about Iceland?

The other kind of music video:

Yes, it’s set in Iceland and has German actors who pretend to be Icelandic.

Oh my god, I have to see it. I’d like to see German people acting like Icelanders.

Since the sound of the record was dark and heavy it actually fit very well with the mood of the series. What kind of TV series do you think would be a good fit for your new album?

I love this one song, the last song “Endless Summer”. I thought it might fit to a teenage movie or maybe to “Skam”. It’s a series from Norway and it’s about kids in college. I watched all episodes. I’m going to talk to my manager to put the song in this season, it’s really popular. There’s a lot of cool music in it. They even have a Spotify playlist featuring many popular songs from Scandinavia.

You used to tell this poetic horror fairytales on your earlier albums. And still your lyrics are very scenic and theatrical. Did you ever think about publishing a book with the stories you make up? Or will music always be more important to you?

No, I thought about it. Actually I started writing a book two times. I’m always to busy and I don’t have time for it.

Maybe when you’re old?

Yeah, maybe when I’m old and have a whisky voice and don’t like to sing anymore. Well, I’m thinking about writing Icelandic poems. I’m going to release a poem book one day, either in Icelandic or English. I mean, Icelandic is my mother tongue, so for me it’s easier to express myself. Let’s see.

Talking to you or watching you playing a show it seems that humour plays a big role in your life. But your songs, especially the older ones, on the other hand have titles like “I’ll drown”, “Smashed Birds”, “Follow me down” or “Kill the clown”. Is that something you do when you write music: Kill the clown inside of you to make some serious art?

(laughter) I don’t know who I am when I write this stuff. I hope this child will make me a better person. I’m afraid of myself sometimes. Why would someone write this down and even release it? I mean, I can’t watch horror movies because I’m so afraid, I can’t go to the bathroom for months after I watch “The Shining” or something comparable. So this is my approach: to write a horror song, and just imagining it – and I know I wrote it so it’s not real. This is my thing to satisfy the horror desire. Because you need something scary in your life, it keeps your heartbeat going.

Sóley – Kill the Clown (live):

Quelle: YouTube

So you write horror stories because you can control them?

Exactly. That’s a good thing. Because I can choose the end. Or can I? I don’t know. I like it, but on my new album I was writing less about horror stuff, I guess. I was just trying something else. And I think it’s always good to not to get stuck anywhere and challenge yourself, do something. Because usually I would say that I would never write a song about my daughter or I’d never write songs in a major key, because it’s not me.

But then I question that and ask myself: Why don’t I do that? Why would I put myself in a box? Why don’t I try out something else and see what happens ? And that was just what I was trying to do on my new album. I just tried out a lot of stuff I thought I wasn’t supposed to do because I had put myself in some sort of box.

And we think it really worked out.

I’m really happy with the album. I did it in a year, I just shut down and all these songs came out and I was pushing songs out and I didn’t force anything. So all these songs just came within four months and then I just finished them. Why should I spend more time with it? So I’ll just release it and start to do something else. I don’t know about working on an album for ten years and I think life is too short to do it. You just start doing something new. I enjoyed the process of making the album, it’s all really natural. I’m really happy.

So best wishes for the release and thank you for the interview.

Danke. See you around.


Sóleys third album “Endless Summer” will be released on may the 5th at Morr Music. Afterwards she’ll play a tour with a small or big band in small and big towns:

May 10 Kulturkirche Cologne, Germany
May 11 Felsenkeller Leipzig, Germany
May 12 Apostel-Paulus-Kirche Berlin, Germany,
May 14 Mousonturm Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
May 16 Hybernia Theater Prague, Czech Republic
May 18 Aula Artis Poznan, Poland
May 19 NIEBO Warszawa, Poland
May 20 Kino-Teatr RIALTO Katowice, Poland
May 21 Brno, Czech Republic
May 23 A38 Budapest, Hungary
May 24 Culture Factory Zagreb, Croatia
May 25 Kino Šiška Ljubljana, Slovenia
May 27 Posthof Linz, Austria
May 28 A4 Bratislava, Slovakia
May 29 WUK Vienna, Austria
Jul 04 Covo Summer Bologna, Italy
Jul 05 Circolo Magnolia Segrate Milano, Italy

Cover picture: © Birgisdóttir Ingibjörg

Schlaflos in Reykjavík – Sóley im Interview

Sóleys drittes Album „Endless Summer“ wirft Fragen auf. Nach dem verträumten Debüt „We sink“ und dem fast depressiven „Ask the Deep“ – und gerade als man dachte, sie könnte uns nicht mehr erschüttern, macht die Isländerin plötzlich das Undenkbare: fröhliche Musik. Zumindest behauptet sie das. Immer noch treffen szenische Songtexte auf Klavier und präsenten Gesang. Aber nicht nur ihrem Studio hat sie einen neuen Anstrich verpasst. Und Sóley hat definitiv aufgehört, Clowns zu töten. War aber trotzdem aus Versehen im Island-Krimi. Fragen über Fragen:

Das Interview führten Moritz Bouws und Gregor van Dülmen


Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu „Endless Summer“, deinem neuen Album. Wie kamst du auf den Titel? Ist ein endloser Sommer so eine Sehnsucht, die man während des langen isländischen Winters entwickelt?

Ja, in gewisser Weise. Als ich anfing, das Album zu schreiben, war Januar. Und Januare sind oft sehr dunkel in Island. Da ist immer dieses Verlangen nach Sommer. Der Titel stand schon fest, bevor ich angefangen hab, das Album zu schreiben. Es stand fest, dass es „Endless Summer“ heißen soll, obwohl ich keine Ahnung hatte, wie es klingen könnte.

Der Titel bezieht sich aber auch auf die isländischen Sommer. Die Sonne geht hier nie wirklich unter und es fühlt sich irgendwie endlos an. Du wachst auf, es ist immer ein neuer Tag da, du gehst nie schlafen und es gibt so viel Energie. Der Titel ist also eine Mischung aus beidem: der Sehnsucht nach Sommer und dem endlosen Charakter isländischer Sommer. Alles strömt ineinander, wie Tag und Nacht.

Und im direkten Vergleich zu deinem letzten Album „Ask The Deep“ (2015) hat „Endless Summer“ ja einen einen deutlich optimistischeren Ansatz. Den Eröffnungssong „Úa“ hast du deiner zweijährigen gleichnamigen Tochter gewidmet. Würdest du sagen, dieser Optimismus ist der Einfluss, den deine Tochter auf deine Arbeit nimmt?

Bestimmt. Es ist witzig, wie Kinder dein Leben verändern. Ich weiß nicht, ob ihr Kinder habt, aber das Leben wird nie dasselbe wie zuvor sein. Zum einen bin ich viel müder seitdem – ich war in meinem Leben noch nie so müde. Aber wenn man sieht, wie ein Kind geboren wird, passiert etwas Merkwürdiges. Das Leben ist einfach großartig. Ein Kind zu haben ist großartig. Ich wollte niemals Mami-Songs oder Ähnliches schreiben. Aber es wirkt sich definitiv darauf aus, wie ich sein möchte. Denn ich möchte meiner Tochter ein gutes Vorbild sein. Ich will nicht mein ganzes Leben lang in diesem depressiven Scheiß feststecken. Was ich jetzt mache, ist mein Versuch, herauszukommen, auf das Licht am glücklichen Ende des Tunnels zuzukriechen und mir zu sagen: „Ich will hier raus. Das ist, was ich sein will.“ Ich glaube, sie inspiriert mich auf eine gute Weise.

Aufnahme-Impressionen:

Quelle: Twitter

Was beeinflusst dich denn außer deiner Tochter noch, wenn du Musik machst? Spielt die Farbe deiner Studio-Wände eine Rolle? Denn du hast sie vor den Aufnahmen lila und gelb gestrichen, oder?

Ich glaube schon. Aber es ist vor allem die Stimmung, in der ich bin, die Gefühlslage, in der ich bin, wenn ich ein Album mache. Denn ich hatte für das Album einen Plan. Eines der Ziele war, endlich einmal einen Song in Dur zu schreiben. Das hab ich noch nie gemacht. Jetzt habe ich es geschafft. Außerdem wollte ich wieder stärker zu Klavier und Stimme zurück, zurück zu meinen Wurzeln. Ich liebe es, am Klavier zu sitzen und ein Thema zu spielen. Das ist eigentlich meine Lieblingsbeschäftigung. Und ich wollte mich in den Kompositionen ein wenig herausfordern und versuchen, sie komplexer zu gestalten. Ich wollte am Klavier sitzen und ein neues Album machen. Das hab ich getan. Ich saß also da und die Songs kamen dabei heraus.

Welche Wandfarben wirst du für dein nächstes Album wählen?

Gute Frage. Was ist noch übrig? Die Lieblingsfarbe meiner Tochter ist pink. Ich hab sie gefragt, ob sie nicht vielleicht schwarz mag, aber sie präferiert derzeit eher pink, lila, Glitzer und Gold. Ich denke tatsächlich viel über Farben nach, wenn ich Alben schreibe. Ich wollte bei dieser Platte auf jeden Fall hellere Farben haben. Ich arbeite auch sehr eng mit meiner Freundin Inga (Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir) zusammen, die die Artworks zu meinen Alben macht. Ich hab ihr von den Farben erzählt, an die ich dachte, und sie machte daraus etwas Bläuliches – vielleicht sogar mit ein paar Pink-Anteilen. Aber ich überlasse ihr die Wahl. Ich hab nur eine Vorstellungen von Farben, sie schafft es, das Album so aussehen zu lassen, wie es klingt. Aber die Wandfarbe fürs nächste Album wird auf jeden Fall pink.

Album-Cover von Birgisdóttir Ingibjörg

Letztes Jahr hast du eine kleine Europa-Tour gespielt, um herauszufinden, ob dein neues Album und dein neuer Sound deinem Publikum gefällt. War das wirklich eine Angst die du hattest – dein Publikum zu verlieren?

Ich weiß nicht. Es lief dann eher so: Ich hab das Album allen gezeigt und gesagt “Guckt mal, ich hab eine fröhliches Album gemacht.” Und alle haben es sich angehört haben und meinten: “Das ist eigentlich gar nicht richtig fröhlich.” Ich glaube, ich hab niedrige Ansprüche an das Glück als andere Menschen. Ich konnte nie so richtige “la la la la”-Musik machen, also treffen wir uns in der Mitte. Ich glaube, es ist kein fröhliches Album, sondern eher ein Album, das sich nach Liebe sehnt. Würde ich einen endlosen Sommer haben wollen? Ich glaube nicht. Aber ich mag es, mich danach zu sehnen. Ich mag es, diese Sehnsucht nach Sommer zu haben.

Auf dieser Tour hast du auch deine neue Live-Band vorgestellt, die auch eine kleines Orchester und eine zweite Sängerin beinhaltet. Was sind die Hauptunterschiede dazwischen, mit einem so großen Ensemble zu spielen statt mit der minimalistischen Band, mit der du vorher unterwegs warst?

Es macht einfach viel mehr Spaß. Nichts gegen meine Freunde, die vorher schon in meiner Band waren – die sind super. Aber was ich daran so liebe, ist, dass ich die Songs tatsächlich akustisch ohne Verstärker spielen könnte. Das ist, wohin ich wollte. Leise mag ich meine Stimme gar nicht so gern. Ich wollte immer schon Songs für eine Band arrangieren und würde echt gern auch mal ein Album mit einem Sinfonieorchester machen. Vielleicht ja das Nächste. Ich komponiere und arrangiere das dann auch gern alles. Aber wir werden sehen. Momentan proben wir zusammen für die anstehende Tour, aber es ist echt teuer, mit einer großen Band unterwegs zu sein. Ich wollte es mal ausprobieren und zusammen diese kleine Tour zu spielen. Alle würden gern mitkommen auf der Tour, aber wir müssen finanziell schauen, was passiert. Eine größere Band wird es aber definitiv sein.

Sóleys aktuelle Single „Grow“:

 

Quelle: YouTube

Das Berlin-Konzert auf dieser Tour letztes Jahr fand ja in einer Kirche (Passionskirche Kreuzberg) statt. Auch im Mai spielst du wieder in einer Berliner Kirche (Apostel-Paulus-Kirche in Schöneberg). Und in Köln spielst du in der Kulturkirche, einer ehemaligen Kirche. Warum immer Kirchen? Ist die Akustik der vorrangige Grund?

Ja, auf der einen Seite ist es die Akustik. Obwohl man manchmal echt mit einem Wahnsinns-Hall zu kämpfen hat. Aber das ist ja das Problem meines Tontechnikers. Auf der anderen Seite ist die Stimmung in einer Kirche aber auch eine völlig andere als in einem Klub. Ich bin keine große Freundin davon, in einem Klub zu spielen, denn ich finde nicht, dass es zu meinem Projekt passt. Deswegen versuche ich immer bestuhlte Shows zu spielen, bei denen die Leute nicht einfach nur betrunken sind, sondern sich für eine Stunde hinsetzen und Musik hören – und danach was trinken gehen. Es gefällt mir, sich einfach hinzusetzen, zuzuhören und zu genießen.

Und dein Konzert in Leipzig findet ja ebenfalls an einem besonderen Ort statt, im Felsenkeller. Die ganzen Städte, in denen du spielst, sind sehr berühmt für ihre Klub- und Musikszenen. Ist das ein Auswahlkriterium für dich, wenn du deine Tour planst?

Mir gefällt Deutschland. Ich würde hier leben. Ich spiele gern in den großen Städten, aber genauso gern mag ich es in kleinen Städten, sei es in Deutschland, Italien oder woanders, zu spielen. Es ist schön in eine Stadt zu kommen, von der ich noch nie etwas gehört habe, auf die Bühne zu gehen und zu sehen, dass so viele Menschen gekommen sind. Beides zusammen ist eine schöne Mischung. Und nur in großen Städten zu spielen ist echt schwer. Man muss auch viel weiter fahren. Es ist also sinnvoll, es so zu machen. Ich mag beides. Und ich liebe Leipzig.

Was für uns ebenfalls sehr spannend ist, ist die Musikszene, aus der du kommst und die enge Zusammenarbeit zwischen isländischen Musiker*innen untereinander. Ihr begleitet euch gegenseitig bei den Aufnahmen, begleitet euch in verschiedenen Projekten auf Tour, und unterstützt nicht nur etablierte Künstler, sondern fördert auch junge Talente. Seid ihr einfach alle miteinander befreundet oder spielen dabei auch Netzwerke wie zum Beispiel das Iceland Music Export Office eine Rolle?

Ich glaube, es ist beides. Das Export Office ist sehr wichtig für die isländische Musikszene. Es verfügt über Kontakte, und man ist dort bereit, Künstlern zu helfen – auch mir, wenn ich in der Musikindustrie verloren bin. Wir trinken einen Kaffee und reden darüber. Für junge Bands ist es ebenfalls sehr wichtig. Ich bin dreißig und kenne die Leute nicht, die erst zwanzig sind und gerade anfangen Musik zu machen. Ich wachse nur mit meiner Generation der Musikszene auf. Deswegen glaube ich, dass diese Netzwerke sehr wichtig sind, um einander kennenzulernen. Es gibt einfach unzählige Bands und Musiker*innen, und es gibt wirklich viele Kids, die ziemlich coole Sachen machen. Also sollte man sich treffen, über neue Projekte reden und das mit hinaustragen.

Kennt ihr euch alle untereinander?

Ja. Wenn wir uns nicht persönlich kennen, dann zumindest über gemeinsame Freunde. Die Szene ist wirklich klein. Es ist also schwer, sich nicht gegenseitig zu kennen. Wir stehen uns alle nahe, wir sind alle Buddys. Und das ist schön.

Der Musikexport scheint zu funktionieren. Dein letztes Album „Ask The Deep“ hat es ja sogar in den Soundtrack einer deutschen Krimiserie geschafft. Weißt du davon?

Ämm, wie heißt die Serie?

„Der Island-Krimi“.

Was? Ich weiß leider nicht alles darüber, wie und wo meine Musik verwendet wird. Aber es könnte sein, dass ich da eine E-Mail bekommen hab. Okay, das ist lustig.
Das war eine große Fernseh-Produktion, mit Franka Potente. Dich kennt also jetzt jeder in Deutschland.

Und das ist eine Krimiserie über Island?

Ja, es spielt in Island, mit deutschen Schauspielern, die so tun als wären sie Isländer.
Oh mein Gott, das muss ich sehen! Ich würde gern Deutsche sehen, die sich wie Isländer verhalten.

Die andere Art von Musik-Video:

Quelle: YouTube

Der dunkle, schwere Sound des Albums passte aber ziemlich gut zur Stimmung der Serie. Was würdest du denn sagen, zu was für einer Serie dein neues Album passen würde?

Ich mag „Endless Summer“, den letzten Song. Ich dachte, er passt vielleicht zu einem Teenie-Film oder zu „Skam“. Das ist eine norwegische Serie über College Kids. Ich hab alle Folgen gesehen. Ich hoffe und spreche mal mit meinem Manager, ob er den Song in der neuen Staffel unterbringen kann. Die Serie ist sehr berühmt und hat viel coole Musik. „Skam“ hat auch eine Spotify-Playlist, auf der auch viele berühmte skandinavische Songs auftauchen.

Auf deinen früheren Alben hast du immer diese poetischen Horror-Märchen erzählt. Und auch auf dem neuen sind die Texte sehr szenisch und theatralisch. Hast du jemals darüber nachgedacht, ein Buch aus diesen Geschichten zu schreiben? Oder wird Musik für dich immer wichtiger bleiben?

Nein, ich habe tatsächlich darüber nachgedacht. Ich habe schon zweimal angefangen ein Buch zu schreiben. Aber ich bin immer zu beschäftigt und hab dann doch keine Zeit dafür.

Vielleicht wenn du alt bist?

Genau, vielleicht wenn ich alt bin, und mit meiner Whisky-Stimme eh nicht mehr singen kann. Aber ich denke darüber nach, Gedichte auf Isländisch zu schreiben. In meiner Muttersprache ist es für mich einfacher, mich auszudrücken. Mal sehen.

Und wenn man sich so mit dir unterhält oder dich bei einer Show sieht, fällt auf, dass Humor in deinem Leben eine wichtige Rolle spielt. Deine Songs tragen dagegen aber oftmals Titel wie „I’ll drown“, „Smashed Birds“, „Follow me down“ oder „Kill the Clown“. Ist das etwas, was du tust, wenn du Musik schreibst: deinen inneren Clown töten, um ernste Kunst zu machen?

(lacht) Ich weiß nicht, wer ich bin, wenn ich diese Songs schreibe. Ich hoffe, das Kind macht mich zu einem besseren Menschen. Manchmal habe ich vor mir selbst Angst. Warum schreibt jemand sowas und veröffentlicht es auch noch? Ich kann noch nicht mal Horrorfilme gucken. Ich habe solche Angst davor, dass ich Monate lang nicht ins Bad gehen kann, nachdem ich „Shining“ geguckt habe. Mein Ansatz ist also: Ich schreibe einen Horror-Song und denke mir die Geschichte aus – also ich weiß, dass das, was ich geschrieben habe, nicht real ist. Auf diese Weise stille ich mein persönliches Horrorbedürfnis. Denn man braucht etwas Unheimliches in seinem Leben, es hält den Herzschlag in Gang.

Sóley – Kill the Clown (live):

Quelle: YouTube

Du schreibst Horror-Geschichten also, um sie kontrollieren zu können?

Genau. Weil ich das Ende bestimmen kann. Kann ich das? Ich bin mir gar nicht sicher. Ich mag es, aber auf dem neuen Album wollte ich weniger Horror. Ich wollte etwas Neues probieren. Es ist immer besser sich selbst herauszufordern, anstatt festzustecken. Denn normalerweise würde ich nie ein Lied über meine Tochter oder ein Lied in Dur schreiben, weil es nicht zu mir passt. Aber sowas stelle ich in Frage und frage mich: Warum machst du das nicht? Warum steckst du dich in eine Schublade und versuchst nicht etwas Neues, einfach um zu sehen, was passiert? Und das hab’ ich auf dem neuen Album versucht. Ich habe viel Neues ausprobiert, von dem ich dachte, dass ich es nicht tun sollte, weil ich mich selbst in eine Art Schublade gesteckt hatte.

Was sich auf dem Album auf jeden Fall auszahlt.

Ich bin mit dem Album wirklich zufrieden. Ich hab es in einem Jahr fertiggestellt, habe mich einfach eingeschlossen und all diese Songs kamen heraus, ohne dass ich es erzwungen habe. Die Songs waren nach vier Monaten alle da und dann habe ich sie einfach fertig gemacht. Warum sollte ich länger daran arbeiten? Ich werde sie einfach veröffentlich und mich etwas Neuem widmen. Ich weiß nicht, wie es ist, über zehn Jahre an einem Album zu arbeiten, und ich glaube dafür ist das Leben einfach zu kurz. Man sollte einfach anfangen, etwas Neues zu machen. Ich habe den Entstehungsprozess des Albums sehr genossen, er war sehr natürlich. Ich bin wirklich glücklich.

Wie schön. Alles Gute für den Release und vielen Dank für das Interview.

Danke. Wir sehen uns.


Sóleys drittes Album „Endless Summer“ erscheint am 5. Mai bei Morr Music. Danach spielt sie mit einer kleinen oder großen Band in großen und kleinen Städten:

10.5. Kulturkirche Köln, DE
11.5. Felsenkeller Leipzig, DE
12.5. Apostel-Paulus-Kirche Berlin, DE
14.5. Mousonturm Frankfurt Am Main, DE
16.5. Hybernia Theater Prague, CZ
18.5. Aula Artis Poznan, PL
19.5. NIEBO Warszawa, PL
20.5. Kino-Teatr RIALTO Katowice, PL
21.5. Brno, CZ
23.5. A38 Budapest, HU
24.5. Culture Factory Zagreb, HR
25.5. Kino Šiška Ljubljana, SI
27.5. Posthof Linz, AT
28.5. A4 Bratislava, SK
29.5. WUK Vienna, AT
4.7. Covo Summer Bologna, IT
5.7. Circolo Magnolia Segrate Milano, IT

Titelbild: © Birgisdóttir Ingibjörg

Music, Iceland, poetry, and sisterly love. An interview with Jófríður Ákadóttir

Together with her sister she forms the band Pascal Pinon. Furthermore she is part of the musical project Samaris and performs solo as JFDR as well. Because of the upcoming Pascal Pinon album “Sundur”, we seized the opportunity of having a chat with her during Jófríður’s Berlin stay. In Morr Music’s kitchen she explained both her new work and the world.

an interview by Gregor van Dülmen and Moritz Bouws

and postmondän’s first blog post in English (feels like the beginning of something)


Pascal Pinon consists of you and your twin sister Ásthildur. Have you been making music all your life together or was there a certain point in your musical life where you said, “Let’s start a band!”?

Yes, there was a certain point when we were eleven years old. Our mom or our dad lent us their laptop and introduced us into the music software GarageBand. We found it amazing and just started recording even though we had no idea how to do that. We didn’t even have headphones, but we recorded anyway and produced two albums under the name “Við og Tölvan”, which means “We and the computer”. At that time we said, “We’re gonna start a band now.” Then we got a sound card, a microphone, and a midi keyboard for a christmas present. We still have this midi keyboard. No, sorry, my sister left it in Amsterdam where she lived to study. When she moved away from Amsterdam she left all of her things. She still hasn’t come back to pick them up. That’s already two or three years ago.

Where does she live now?

In Reykjavík. She only left Reykjavík twice since that time. One time was to go to London to visit me and to go to Berlin once for a couple of meetings.

You are following a nomadic kind of lifestyle at the moment, don’t you?

Yeah, I can’t sit still, I can’t stay anywhere. Also I’m really thrifty, I don’t want to spend much on rent when I’m not there most of the time anyway. I think you just really have to go hardcore doing one thing like travelling all the time or settling down – or live somewhere cheap. I don’t know, I’m working on this.

We would like to talk to you about your upcoming album “Sundur”. Your father helped producing your new album. Did he play an important role in the whole process?

Yes, he helped us. I would say my sister actually is the producer, because she is the one who had the most issues with everything. She was the one who actually kept everything super real, super raw, and she decided how we roll this album. I even would have put reverb on the mastering, like it’s my vibe that everything is in reverb. So for me it was really hard to say, “Okay, we’re just gonna do this.” And my dad was the one who said, “Just relax, I’ll come with you, I’ll help you out, I’ll set the microphones for you and I’ll be there and push the buttons.”

And he helped you to not get into a fight with one another?

Exactly, that’s the thing. Because the issue is I wouldn’t have minded if somebody else had done that for us. I wanted to pay a person to do that for us, just because I didn’t want to do that. But she said, “No way. We’re not going to hire anybody. It’s just a waste of money and we can do everything ourselves.” And I replied, “No, because you don’t know how to do that and then I’m going to be the one and I don’t want to.” That argument was for months. So our father was the one who said, “You go ahead and book a studio. I’ll be the one to engineer.” So both of us kind of got what we wanted. She didn’t even want to book a studio, but I told her, “There are people who want to hear this album and there’s a certain kind of pressure on this. They don’t want to listen to your bedroom recordings.” But at the same time I felt like, “Maybe they do, I don’t know.” So we met somewhere in between.

Das neue Album der Schwestern "Sundur" erscheint am 19. August.

The sister’s new album „Sundur“ will be released on 19th august

So it was just the three of you in the studio?

Yes.

Were you and your sister also the only ones playing music on your last album?

We got a guitar player for a couple of tracks, so we met and improvised a few different songs. But yes, generally it was pretty much the two of us. And a producer in addition.

But you started your bands with four members. What happened to the other two?

We were so young and actually kind of doing a lot: We released the first album ourselves before it got re-released by Morr Music. But up onto that point we were doing everything ourselves. We ordered CDs in a manufactory and we walked to the shops when we were fifteen and asked, “We have ten CDs. Do you want to sell them?” – and they all consented. But it was a lot of pressure, because somebody had to take care of the accounting and somebody had to take care of actually going to the shops to see whether it’s sold out or not.

The thing is, it’s just too much to be friends – and we were really good friends to begin with – and to run a business at the same time when you are fifteen. It didn’t really go hand in hand very well and it became this kind of division between the two other girls on the one hand and Ásthildur and me on the other hand. There accidentally was a tension between those two groups. I was sad about it and it really wasn’t pleasant. So together we decided that they would leave the group and we would continue. We rather wanted to stay friends than letting this completely seperate us. That was the reason. And then a couple of month later we got the record deal, which was great. It was easier for us to continue with this. But then the guitar player went on tour with us a few times. She was in the tour band for three years. So that issue didn’t actually make a big difference.

Pascal Pinon as a quartet:

source: youtube

Regarding your name: We think it’s really interesting, because Pasqual Piñón is a historic person – a Mexican guy who worked on a circus. What’s the connection, why did you choose his name for your band?

The four of us sat in a café together and we just opened this book and there was a picture of him and we were like, “The name is Pasqual Piñón, let’s go for that, that sounds weird!” We just liked the name.

And he neither seemed to be a bad guy, did he?

No, he seems to have been misunderstood, the poor thing.

Pasqual Pinon - The Two-Headed Mexican

Pasqual Pinon – „The Two-Headed Mexican“ (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

He was in kind of a freak-show in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Yeah, I wouldn’t have wanted to be in his position of being laughed and stared at. It must be hard if the whole purpose of your existence is to creep people out. But there’s something beautiful about it, embracing being a little bit different and to make that your something. So the name is for everyone who is different.

And concerning your home, Iceland: We got the impression that there’s always the question of an affiliation due to the isolation. On the one hand you feel connected to Europe, on the other hand to the U.S.A., right? If you agree with that impression, could you describe these influences?

It’s right. And I think Iceland is ridiculous in so many ways. One of the things is exactly what you’re talking about. We’re influenced both by America and Europe. And we are a part of Europe and we’re also kind of a part of America. We had the U.S. Army base for many years and that was right at the time when we gained our independence and caught up with the rest of the world. Before that we were such a poor country and that was the time when there was actually a lot of prosperity and really good changes in the economy. So that was thanks to the U.S. Army. And the crazy thing is that this happened during World War II. Everywhere else in the world things were just blown up and destroyed, but in Iceland things went as well as never before. There was a celebration. That’s why people in Iceland are not sensitive about anything that has got to do with the war and the terrible things that happened there, because they’re used to think of the time period as such a positive thing. And this just doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world. It was a world war and almost everywhere there was chaos and in Iceland there was growth. That’s kind of the American influence.

And then we are in Europe but we keep fighting it, thinking we are independent. There are so many ads and anti-EU campaigns. And there are people who generally just feel like we’re losing our independence. They think because we’re an island we can be totally sufficient for ourselves. But the world doesn’t work like that. Such a stated idea. We are a small community and the different parts of the earth should work together more closely. People don’t see that. And Iceland is a joke compared to that. We are about 300.000 people. And if we weren’t in the EEA I wouldn’t be able to be here. It wouldn’t be that easy for me to travel. But enough about politics, let’s go back to music!

Okay, but let’s do this switch with one more Iceland question: Like many Icelandic artists you’re signed at Morr Music. Would you say the Berlin-based label or, let’s say, labels like Morr Music in general play a significant role for Iceland’s indie scene to become recognized internationally? Because from a German point of view it seems that there has been a particular development during the last years.

Definitely. The people see that they can travel more, that they can go abroad and that there is interest. But this is happening everywhere in the music industry anyway. Everywhere there’s a lot of music being made and there’s a lot of interesting things happening. Something is always getting through and something’s always staying under the radar. Same for Iceland. But now we have this Music Export Office that was founded only a couple of years ago. They’re doing great things, give out grants and care about new artists. It’s definitely becoming more common that bands go abroad and that they are signed at an earlier stage in their careers. For instance, have a look at the work of Seabear for so many years.

So is it a motivation for young musicians to be able to go abroad with their own music?

Absolutely. That’s what they try to do. But it takes time. And you don’t really go abroad unless you have a label that is putting money into your marketing. I remember that with Pascal Pinon we wouldn’t go abroad until we started working with Morr Music. Before that we went to Sweden once which was a joke although it was great nevertheless. But otherwise we didn’t go abroad the first two years and now we play more shows in other countries than we do in Iceland. I actually think it plays such a big role in the whole thing.

With respect to the language in which you are singing: Do you prefer Icelandic or English? As you know worldwide there are millions of people, listening to Icelandic music even though they don’t understand the lyrics.

It’s really hard to say. Because first of all, I make music for myself. I have something in my head, like, “I need to make this one and it needs to be in Icelandic.” Just because the word and the poetry make sense that way to me. I could translate it, but it wouldn’t be the same. I think some people do it for the market or for the people they’re communicating with. And I understand and respect that. It’s really cool, too, when people understand you, when you have something to say. Then you give it another layer of depth, like the feeling and the emotion of the music. But for us, I mean, there are two songs on Sundur that don’t even have any words. They’re just instrumental. So we just don’t give a fuck. We just do whatever we want. I like to sing in English as well.

Your new album’s title is “Sundur” which is the Icelandic word for “apart”, right? Is that the main theme of your album, standing apart from each other?

It’s definitely the main theme in the whole process of making this album. When we started doing it Ásthildur had already left to Holland and before that we used to have such an easy access to each other. We were sharing a bedroom most of the time growing up. We are twins and we always had a super tight relationship, whether we wanted to have or not. Making music was such an easy thing to do because we always were around each other. But then she was away and things went up in the air. We realised it’s even a struggle merely to see each other.

And did songs come up in that process? Did you send demos to each other?

The first song of the album we wrote together. And it’s kind of an introduction to that situation. But I wrote all songs apart from the first one on my own. It was more like bringing a song to her and seeing if she likes it and if she wants to collaborate and just do something with it.

Your last album was called “Twosomeness”. Do both tell a story together?

They do. It’s a contrast. It’s like this vs. this. But it’s a natural kind of next chapter. The first album, “Pascal Pinon”, was just composed of home recordings. For the second album we worked with a producer for the first time. We were just messing around and exploring different things we can do in the studio, things that we had never done before. This album is kind of a going back to the beginning, this tight unit of going separate ways. And this is the result. In my mind it was such a chaotic piece of music, because the sound is just all over the place. I thought people might find it scattered and crazy. I’m so surprised that people seem to be so open-minded about it. That shows me that you just have to stay true to yourself and then people will respond. If you’re real, they will recognise it. And that’s great thing to be reminded of.

impressions of Twosomeness:

source: youtube

For the people who don’t know your new album yet: How would you describe its sound compared to the sound of the one before?

I would say that this is a ridiculous album. But listen to it if you want to! I’m so sorry to the label, I hope they didn’t hear this. (She’s laughing)

Because listening to it for the first time it sounded more melancholic than the last one. It sounds more raw and diverse. It’s not like a concept, but it sounds very real and natural.

Yeah, that’s actually kind of the best way to describe it. Saying it’s ridiculous is such a cheap way of describing. I’m so sorry, I’ll try a little bit harder. It’s just I had something in my head that I wanted to create. We started that journey and the result is not what we wanted to make at the beginning. But it’s obvious that you can’t ever think you have something in your mind and go out doing exactly that. It doesn’t work that way. Things change and that’s great. It’s worth celebrating. So this album is probably kind of fucked up as much as it possibly can be. But within that space it’s folk-cute music, it’s not fucked up music. If we were a little bit angrier as people we’d probably be making punk music and the concept would still be the same.

So if this is going to become the most popular of your albums so far. What will you do in the future?

I don’t know at all. Things are going to happen and I’m just learning.

So one last question: Will there be a tour after the release? Will you come back to Germany?

Yes. We have a tour coming in November. It’s from 10th to 20th November. Berlin, Münster, Tecklenburg and Cologne. Some shows are with Peter Broderick. The dates will be announced, but the Berlin show is on 11th November.

O cool, so we’ll meet again there. Thank you very much for the interview!

Thank you, guys!

 

One show missing in the list is the one at Alínæ Lumr Festival on 26th August in the internationally well-known metropolis of Storkow. Fair enough, since we only asked her for tour dates. But after the interview we feel prepared for a „Sundur“ review which will follow in a few days. But then we’ll switch back to German again. Sorry for that, such a cheap way of writing a review.

cover photo: © Magnus Andersen