Rökkurró have held my attention for some time now. Despite their enforced hiatus a couple of years back, they’ve always been at the forefront of alternative Icelandic music. Their albums have been well received in Iceland, and I’ve never knowingly missed an opportunity to see them live.
At last year’s Airwaves, I saw them deliver a truly delicious acoustic set at Nordic House. The story goes that Rökkurró formed in an attic space, and had to play quietly so as not to disturb the neighbors. True or not, their sound is soft and gentle, topped by Hildur’s distinctive voice. It was a standout set of the festival for me.
This year, they are back. They have released a new single which indicates a change in direction, and has already garnered interest from The Guardian. I think there is a good chance we will all be sing a lot more of Rökkurró. That can only be a good thing.
I spoke with Hildur from the band who told me a bit more about the goings on, new sounds and how to dress for Airwaves;
Rökkurró have released a single ‘Killing Time,’ just this week. It’s beautiful, but sounds very different. Was that a conscious decision?
Yes, we had no interest in making another Í annan heim album. Our taste in music and influences had changed so we wanted to follow that feeling and make something different. For example I hadn’t been inspired to play the cello at all for the last months so I switched into playing synths instead and with that the melodies change. We had been trying to describe in words what we wanted the new songs to have and we all agreed that we wanted more “power” in the songs. And I think we also have more “positive” and upbeat songs on the new album. We had also wanted to try out singing in English for a long time and we thought, if we’re not doing it now on our third album we’ll never do it!
Have your travels in Japan influenced the band’s sound?
Yes, but mostly because of the travels we got a one year break, which I think was good for all of us. We were stuck in some kind of rut before, we didn’t seem to be so inspired and we had no idea what we wanted to do. Taking a year completely off the band was good for us and I think we came way stronger back. I also did my own solo project while living in Japan that helped me experience more and figure out what kind of directions I wanted to be taking.
You have had a reshuffle in the band with two new members joining. What happened?
Well, Helga, our keyboard player actually joined just after we released Í annan heim. We needed a keyboard player and a backing voice and she fitted perfectly and gave the band a richer sound. So we really don’t consider her new anymore! But then we have a brand new bass player, Skúli, that has been in the band for only around two months now but fits so perfectly. We lost one of the founding member of Rökkurró when she decided to quit the band this summer because she wanted to focus on other genres of music. She’s a real funk and boogie style bass player and of course it just made sense for her to go and focus on that. But we’re still friends and it all happened in a good manner. But I would say that Skúli is bringing great fresh ideas to the band and he’s already changed our sound in a great way. We’re so lucky to have found him.
Is there an album coming? What can we expect?
Yes! It’s coming early 2014. You can expect more powerful, catchy and happy Rökkurró! But don’t despair if you miss the Icelandic lyrics as we’re finding it hard to quit writing in Icelandic and I can guarantee that there will also be some songs in Icelandic. Some songs just ask for it! But we’re all very very excited for the new album and also because the process has happened very fast in the last few months. It was quite weird having not made any songs we wanted to keep until this summer, a few months ago, then suddenly something clicked so the new songs are all VERY new!
Do you enjoy playing Airwaves?
Oh yes. That’s kind of like asking a kid if it likes candy. It’s our favorite time of the year! It’s so much fun to play for new ears and this year it’s even better as we’re playing new songs that nobody has even heard! I also just love the atmosphere that fills Reykjavík during that week. It’s so full of excitement and good music. You can almost be walking anywhere down town and you’ll hear some band playing. It’s also so great to have opportunities to see all these great international artists and the festival has been quite good with selecting bands that are soon to become huge but you can catch them before that happens!
What is your advice for a first timer at Airwaves?
It’s tempting to try to make a really planned out schedule to try to see as many acts as you can but that’s about the worst idea. Then you will probably miss half of it because of lines or walking in between and you’ll spend half of the show you’re watching just thinking that you really need to go to the next place. Some of the most magical moments on Airwaves have been when the line for the act I wanted to see is too long and I walk into the next venue not knowing anything about the band playing there and then it turns out it’s the best band ever. I love when that happens! So just stick to 1- 2 acts per day that you plan to see and just “let the rest happen”! And also.. DRESS WARM!
Original article here.