Agnes Björt is the incandescent, glamorous, party-starting singer of the Reykjavík electro-pop band Sykur. Here she talks us through some of her formative influences.
VampireFreaks and Dark Starlings
These two were websites that I spent a lot of time on as a teenager. They’re similar to MySpace, but each member had a personal style (clothes, hair, music taste, visuals…) and had created their own world around it. You could follow people, and see when they posted. There were no limits, no rules on how you should be dressed or styled etc.Everything was allowed. You could be whoever you felt like; make your creativity snowball-effect yourself into the creature you wanted to be. For me this was so inspiring that it almost made my head explode. This is still a big part of me as I like to dress as different characters, wear what someone would call costumes or drag and go into different moods based on my persona when I go out partying.
The most lively figure in the underground clubs of London and New York, as well as in art and fashion circles in the ‘80s, was Leigh Bowery, an Australian performance artist and fashion designer. I relate to him in many ways—the forms he uses, texture, colours, patterns, openness and humour. He’s vibrant, bold, fun, provocative, pure, stunning, shocking, kitschy and creative. I also find it inspiring how clubbing and partying can be like an art scene—a different world where there are other rules, behaviour and priorities than in bright daylight, almost like another planet.
How Icelandic words are put together with these little beautiful different sounds inspires me. I am really into learning old Icelandic words and their meanings. It’s amazing how you can put them together and make a rhythm out of them, and make them rhyme. I bought myself a huge dictionary the other day and now I don’t have any money left for food.
How my brain plays games on me
I have images of random places popping up in my brain every so often. Those images always show me places I have been and these places are very random and I don’t know why I’m getting them flashing in my brain at random moments, like when I’m cooking or driving. For example, one picture is of a bench I always walked by on my way to school when I was 14 years old and living in Barcelona. One is of the place where the streets cross when you are driving from Grafarvogur to Kringlan (see picture), and one is a construction area in Mosfellsbær. It’s like a puzzle that I haven’t figured out yet… weird, but inspiring, in a way.
I’m usually not into this style of singing but this piece is just so visual it sends me to a place where I’m naked on a bed of flowers drinking mountain water out of a golden trophy. Really well performed.
Sykur is our baby. We have grown so much together and they definitely inspired me to become who I am. I love them very much, although we don’t hang all the time. Fun fact: 2017 is Sykur’s 10th Airwaves anniversary… fuck me sideways.
Rokk í Reykjavík documentary
This movie describes so perfectly how I feel about Reykjavík. The mood and vibe capture what Reykjavík is all about, and why I’m so hypnotised by our city. I saw this as a teenager, and the day after I had this guy (who obviously had a crush on me) give me his electric guitar. Those were the days.
How fifty voices can become one is a beautiful artform. Don’t underestimate it.
So so so many bands and artists: Andrew (my dad’s old band. I never got the chance to see them live because he passed away when I was a kid. I’ve learned listening to his old recordings that he was an amazing singer and composer), the X, Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Radiohead, Nina Hagen, Toto, Devo, Level 42, Bring Me The Horizon, Diamanda Gálas, Usher, CAN, Berlin Express, The Ramones, Pink Floyd… and many more.