Published January 30, 2017
SiGRÚN’s first EP, ‘Hringsjá’, judders into life with a couple of blasts of bassy distortion. It quickly dissolves into washes of wordless vocal harmonies before evolving again into a shattered, powerful rhythm. It’s devoutly experimental, bringing to mind a DIY version of Nico Muhly’s ‘Mothertongue’-era compositions, or sketches made using the same ink that Björk used on ‘Medúlla’.
“It’s a mashup of things that have really inspired me,” says Sigrún, brightly. “I would describe it as a melting pot. I’ve been inspired by electronic music that has some classical music elements. The point where crazy dubstep or club music meets composition and choir music.”
This meeting point is a culmination of Sigrún’s musical interests over more than a decade. She started playing young, under the steady influence of a drum teacher father, before graduating to clarinet and them trombone in music school. It would prove to be a fortuitous switch.
“I was playing in lots of bands and random projects,” Sigrún recalls. “Then when I was 17 or 18 I played on the ‘Volta’ tour with Björk. When I came home, I started studying composition. In the middle of that, I went on a tour with Sigur rós. Then I finished school, and went on tour with Florence and the Machine.”
These huge tours came very early in Sigrún’s development. “I’d only been on one or two band camps to Germany,” she says. “The girls from the brass band on ‘Volta’ still make fun of me once in awhile. I had no idea what I was getting into. I had all these towels in my suitcase… I didn’t know anything. I had my schoolbooks with me, and sometimes when there was an afterparty going on in one room, I’d be sitting in the other room studying.”
Being part of such large-scale tours instilled in Sigrún a strong will to spread her wings and make music of her own. “I was a bit fed up of touring,” she says. “I wanted to make something happen on my own. To take control. It’s a fun thing to drift in and out of big projects, but I wanted to more of a part of the creative process—not to be a guest, but to own some of it. Going on tour is a repetition—you play the same thing every night. I thought the repetition might be worth more if I had a bigger stake in the music.”
The resulting SiGRÚN solo project got off to fast start. “Our first show was at Iceland Airwaves,” says Sigrún. “We did a release concert just before Christmas as our third show. Sónar will probably be our fourth. I want to really play with the live show and develop it in 2017. I’ve been playing with a band: Hilma sings with me, and Kjartan plays drum pads. We just added a second drum pads player, to spread the responsibility, and play with it.”
Whilst the SiGRÚN project is still taking formative first steps, the signs are promising. “It’s been liberating,” Sigrún smiles, “like nothing I expected, and everything I expected. It’s scary how time disappears. I made eight songs in half a year. So if I want to make a full album, I need to get going! I need to think about how I want it to be, and how I want it to sound. My fingers are itching.”