Published August 11, 2016
The rap phenomenon Kött Grá Pjé will release his much-anticipated début album in early autumn. The rapper has garnered attention for a flamboyant personal style as well as his blend of poetic and political lyrics which he performs at his notoriously extravagant live performances, leaving the audience sweaty and satisfied.
While studying history at the University of Iceland, Atli Sigþórsson used wear sweater vests and had short combed hair. He found it funny to immerse himself in the character of a historian. “My school buddies probably think I’m going through one hell of a phase nowadays,” he says, laughing. Because for him, becoming Kött Grá Pjé felt liberating. When he began his rap career, he started out with a whole different look but slowly developed a style of his own, painting his nails and wearing colourful kimonos and pearls. “It took me about two years to become the Kött Grá Pjé I am today,” he continues, saying, “I used to be Kött Grá Pjé only when performing on stage but now I’m Kött Grá Pjé in real life as well, and it feels right.”
According to KGP, being a rapper releases something from within. He incorporates poetic language and historical references in his lyrics and finds it blends well: “I write something nerdy like a historical reference and then add motherfucker to it, and it works!” He laughs. “Sometimes it’s funny to see children at my shows because I’m constantly grabbing my crotch and swearing.”
Kött G P loves performing in front of people who are standing up. He likes people to scream at him and says people don’t really do that when sitting down. “I especially love Húrra. The floor is sticky, which makes it harder for the audience to run away,” he tells me. “My band consists of me and three of my bandmates and Húrra is like our home.” Kött G P sweats a lot while performing and says he loves seeing pictures of his shows where his hair is all over the place and his sweat splashing around. “I’m sure the audience loves it as well.” he says. “I think that the people that attend my concerts are the kind of people who like seeing a middle-aged guy with a gut sweating all over. Let’s be frank, I’m the furthest away from Aron Can you could ever get.”
Atli loves cats (“kött”), and “grá” is the female word for gray in Icelandic, symbolising the grayness of everyday life. The final part of the name was inspired by the geologist and philosopher Dr. Helgi Pjéturss. Kött Grá Pjé is a huge fan of Helgi and wrote his BA thesis on his work.
Even though Atli loves performing on stage now, it was a struggle for him to begin with. He became nervous for each show, drinking to calm his nerves. “I was always so nervous that I wouldn’t go on stage unless drunk, but once I realized people wouldn’t throw stones at me while performing, I started to relax,” Atli says. “Now I just drink a little while performing and then go crazy once the show’s over.”
Kött Grá Pjé is active on social media and uses the various mediums differently. He is notorious for his excessive posting of cat videos on his Snapchat, while his Twitter and Facebook feeds tend to be more artistically and politically inclined. He has strong convictions and isn’t afraid to speak his mind, whether in his lyrics or on social media. “People respond well towards me online, and it means a lot to me,” he says. “Many of my Twitter friends are the ones who attend my concerts and I appreciate that, I’ve made a lot of great friends.”
Kött Grá Pjé has a specific way of working. He sits alone at a café or bar and writes everything on his phone. He has collaborated with various Icelandic musicians, perhaps most famously with Úlfur Úlfur on their mega hit “Brennum allt.” He’s also worked with newcomers Krakk & Spagettí and Holy Hrafn—and despite his interesting writing methods, he says his experiences working with other musicians have been very successful. Last year KGP became extremely impressed by musician Brilliantinus and subsequently asked him to produce his new album. “The beats he made for me were the exact sound I was looking for,” he says. “It was the start of a beautiful collaboration.”
These days Brilliantínus and Kött Grá Pjé, along with múm’s Gunni Tynes, are putting the finishing touches on the album. “The vibe of the whole album is great,” he enthuses, “and the feeling I have about it is really, really good.”