They Shoot Music – Reykjavík Sessions: Short Days, Long Nights
Little we knew about the local hip hop scene when we first came to Iceland. But once in Reykjavík, there was no way around. Not only had The Reykjavík Grapevine put the New Wave Of Icelandic Hip Hop on their end-of-the-year-cover and i-D listed seven Icelandic hip hop acts you should get to know, in fact everyone we talked to about the local music scene name-dropped one or another hip hop artist. And many of them rap in Icelandic! We were especially excited about one of these new voices and his track about breakfast. GKR has experienced a lot of internet buzz for “Morgunmatur” and although rapping about his daily life seems a fair enough thing to do, there’s – on a closer look – still more depth to it. It’s a coming-of-age song about figuring out what you really want to do in life, getting up for the right reasons and making the day your own. When we meet Gaukur in his studio at the docklands, we talk about winter time, darkness and depression, lacking ambitions in school and big ones in music, before visiting a rather unusual place for a live performance. But not so unusual, if you are thinking about your breakfast and doing your thing, yeah doing your thing.
It’s a few days before Christmas when we meet Sóley in her backyard studio in Reykjavík. In this faint winter light it feels like the neighbourhood has not yet emerged from slumberland. Only a cat is out in the streets, scampering along thick ice, licking its paws when they turn cold. In this harsh, but peaceful setting Sóley – tucked away in a garage – creates her own small universe. Amidst notes, photos, letters and drawings she writes and records her songs. Although Sóley has been thinking about moving somewhere else, just a bit further South to a city like Berlin, she never did. Eventually she made her own arrangements with the long and dark winter in Iceland and works on her music a lot. While Sóley performs the new song “Wedding”, snow starts to fall outside. However, after every winter comes spring and with a serene smile Sóley sighs: “We’re so easy to forget. We forgive the weather.”
The lifes of Ásthildur and Jófríður Ákadóttir are not only intertwined as twin sisters, but also very much through music. “We first got introduced to music through the womb”, Jóf says. Their parents were studying music at that time and at the age of fourteen the sisters started making music themselves. In 2009 they formed the band Pascal Pinon and since then have been living, touring and working together for most of the time. However, as they grew a little older, the two young women have also started to pursue their own artistic careers. Ásthildur studies to become a composer while Jófriður plays in bands like Samaris, GANGLY and works on her solo project. Asked about their upcoming album “Sundur” in a recent interview Jóf reflects: “For the first time in our lives we went from living in the same house, for the most part in the same bedroom, to spending a lot of time apart, moving to different countries and travelling. In a way it’s a good thing, but it made the process more difficult – emotionally and practically.” When we meet the two in their shared apartment at their parents’ home in the first days of 2016, Jóf is already packing her bags. She is about to leave for several months and yet when Ásthildur and Jófríður perform “Jósa & Lotta”, singing about “two hearts at separate pace” and how “when one falls, both go under”, it feels like even the furthest distance can’t harm this great intimacy.