The Lovely Rökkurró

Rökkurró kindly suggested to their Facebook fans and Twitter followers yesterday that they check out my book.

To return the favour, I thought I’d post some music from this delightful Icelandic band, and the interview with singer Hildur, which is taken from Iceland, Defrosted.

Oh, and then you should definitely check out their Facebook page (where you can ‘meet’ each member) and join me in looking forward to their forthcoming album.


Lily & Fox

Tim Burgess, lead singer for UK band The Charlatans, has recently, and somewhat inadvertently, created a new breakfast cereal, improbably named Totes Amazeballs, posh London slang for “totally amazing”, this breakfast cereal contains shortbread, raisins and soft marshmallow.

Personally, I prefer something a little more refined for by breakfast. And always accompanied by some decent music, usually of the Icelandic variety.

For a while now, it’s been Rökkurró, an Icelandic folk/rock five-piece from Reykjavík. Rökkurró have produced an EP and two albums, my favorite of which is their latest offering, Annan Heim(“In Another World”).

This record is all opulent strings, haunting vocals and being gently insistent in getting into your head. Rökkurró, I’m reliably told, is formed from the Icelandic words for twilight rökkur and quiet or calm . Makes sense to me.

More recently, it’s been Lily and Fox that have been accompanying me at breakfast time, which is ostensibly the current side project of Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir, the lead singer of the aforementioned Rökkurró.

The band is currently on hiatus, as Hildur has temporarily relocated to Japan. No matter though, her cover versions of Interpol and Kavinsky are more than enough to keep me enthralled.

Sweet, breathy vocals accompany a quietly plucked koto harp. She also has her own material, which too is something well worth a listen. It goes well with a croissant and strong coffee, I find.

I decided to contact Hildur, to see if she could tell me more.

I start off by asking where the Lily and Fox moniker come from?

“It is so confusing to explain—but I’ll try! Basically I’m a huge animal lover so wanted it to have animals in the name but I also wanted it somehow to be connected to Japan because my connection to Japan is such a big part of me.”

“Foxes or kitsune are thought of as mythical creatures in Japan, that have magical abilities and appear in many folklore stories, which made my love of them even stronger.”

“And from that on I started forming a story in my head of these characters, Lily and Fox. Lily is a human in my mind but the name was based on my favorite flower… Well, and my mother’s name! See how confusing this is? Haha!”

I ask if it was difficult to leave Iceland, and Rökkuró.

“Yes, it was extremely hard. I had always had this dream of going, but I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving the band for such a long time. But then I changed my mind as I felt afraid that if I wouldn’t go now I would never go!”

“But saying bye to friends, family and the band at the same time was really tough. Rökkurró is taking a break while I’m here so I know it’s hard for the others in the band as well.”

Hildur goes on to explain that she hopes to record an EP as Lily and Fox, and hopefully, even go on tour. I certainly hope that this comes to fruition.

I’m intrigued, though, to know how Hildur chooses which songs to cover.

“It’s kind of random. Apart from the fact that I have to really love the song,” she says. “When I covered Interpol, that was like a challenge I made for myself. I had just been talking to a friend on how some songs are so heartfelt to you that you don’t want anyone to ‘ruin’ them by covering them. So I decided to take one of my all time favorite songs, try not to ruin it and see if I could be happy with it!”

It seems to have turned out ok, if you ask me.

Hildur recently took part in something truly special. In February, Japan played Iceland at football at Nagai Stadium in Osaka.

Hildur, surely after skipping breakfast due to nerves, stood and sang the Icelandic national anthem before a crowd of 50,000 people. Oh, and it was broadcast live in Iceland and Japan, just to add to the pressure.

“The Icelandic National anthem is also one of the hardest songs to sing that I know and with its very broad range, it is even more nerve racking.”

“But of course it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and also a great lesson for me in seeing how stress affects your body. Because for those 90 seconds it took to sing the song, I stood so ridiculously tense and stiff that actually when I woke up the day after, my whole body was sore!”

From singing with a band with a caliber as high as Rökkurró, to producing intimate cover versions of her favorite songs, to singing in front of 50,000 football fans. That takes some doing.

Totes Amazeballs as they say in London. Time for some breakfast, I say.