Harpa Fönn Sigurjónsdóttir is one part of Grúska Babúska. I’ve been intrigued by Grúska Babúska and their music for a while now, but having heard about Harpa’s firm belief in the Icelandic Yule Lads, I can see why their music is just so enchanting. Oh, and they also have a new record coming out. It’s not clear whether that will be delivered by a Yule Lad too.
What will you be doing for Christmas this year?
I am going to India and Bangladesh! I’ll be spending Christmas in India with my boyfriend and my best friend, who lives there. She is a chef and runs a restaurant there and we’re staying with her on Christmas Eve and Day with all her loveliness, smiles, laughter and amazing spicy hot food! And loads and loads of drinks. Ahh… just rest with general sunshine and warmth… I cannot wait, as this summer and fall have been one of the darkest and coldest I remember here in Iceland, and it’s really hard to get anything done, so it’s time for some sunshine and inspiration!
Do you believe in the Yule Lads? Which one is your favorite?
Oh yes, of course. I’ve even met one of them! I will never forget it. I was about 11 years old and I had already had some doubts whether the Yule Lads were real or not, but I didn’t want to reveal those doubts to anybody, as then I might stop getting candy in my shoe! But anyway, on Christmas Eve Stúfur (Stubby a.k.a. Shorty) came dazzling into my house straight from the mountains and made a big fuss like a true Yule Lad. My whole family seemed really startled, I noticed. I looked around and saw that no one in my family was missing. Stúfur made dirty tracks all over the carpet, ran into the house, threw some old bag on the floor, made some rude comments, and was out of the bathroom window into the snow. I grew up on a farm which is quite a distance from the village, and I remember spending the next years trying to solve the riddle about where Shorty had come from! Now I know that of course he came from the mountain, and that’s all I need to know.
What’s the best thing about Christmas in Iceland?
The snow definitely. I will really miss that when I’m in India, I think. I remember missing that a lot when I spent Christmas in Uganda. It really feels like something is twisted when it’s sunny and hot over Christmas, but not freezing cold, dark and snowy.
Have you ever thought about releasing a Christmas song?
No, not really. Hmmm… ? We should really start thinking about that.
I know that you are releasing a collection of B-sides. How did this come about?
We had written ten songs for our debut release, but since we wanted to make our first release strong enough, and as it was going on a USB stick, we finally picked the maybe six most approachable tunes to put on the USB, so the remaining four tunes accidentally became a B-side. Then when we started writing the new album, the music took such a turn, that we realized that these four tunes would never ever fit the new stuff, even if we continued working on them, so we decided to release them as a B-side.
Where can we hear them?
Well, the tunes were only released on a limited edition (20 copies) of a babushka doll for the shows on Iceland Airwaves, but on December 17 there is a launch party and show in Boston in Reykjavík where we’ll have a few for sale! And the same day the four songs will be on our SoundCloud, our Bandcamp and we’ll upload them on YouTube… So it’s basically a little Christmas present from Grúska Babúska.
What are the plans for Grúska Babúska in 2014?
Me and my boyfriend are going to set up a studio in our new house, and us girls are going to start recordings of our new album in February (that we’ve already started writing) as soon as I’m back from India. So, a new record will come out next year! And there are very exciting news for the new album and the band in general: there will be a new member joining us next year! And she is super talented and super wonky to say the least! I cannot say more at the moment, but it’s all very exciting!
Grúska Babúska website.
Originally published online at Iceland Review online.