“I feel average, which is something I can’t be content with,” says the artist and writer Kött Grá Pje. He announced his retirement from rap music on Twitter just this July 9. “I made the decision after due consideration, having taken a long and tedious look at myself,” he tells The Reykjavík Grapevine.
Kött Grá Pje broke through in 2013 on the track “Aheybaró” and quickly became known as an electric performer, dressed in his trademark flamboyant style and connecting with the audience through his erratic physicality. But the now-former rapper, real name Atli Sigþórsson, feels he can’t express himself like he wants in the genre.
“I’m somehow at odds with it and I can’t adjust my perspective,” says Atli. “I don’t have the stamina to keep up with trends aimed at young people. And I feel like I haven’t accomplished what I wanted in rap. I haven’t been able to fine-tune my music like I’d hoped. Grind it down to broken shards of glass and iron scraps.”
The Devil’s control
In lieu of rapping, Atli intends to focus his efforts on writing. He’s submitted a collection of microstories to the publisher Bjartur, which he expects to come out this fall. The manuscript is entitled ‘Hin svarta útsending’, which loosely translates as “The Dark Transmission.” “Since I delivered it I’ve been adding to it as if the devil controlled my pen, but it should be rescued in editing,” he says. “After this is published I’ll once more attempt the novel which has plagued me for the last few years. It wants out.”
His interest in rap still remains, even if he won’t be involved in the performance side himself. “I’ll still listen to rap as a critic and fan, which I think will help me understand the phenomenon as is,” he explains. “Now I experience greater artistic expression in writing microstories than rap lyrics. But I haven’t stopped making music, I feel a glut of weirdness gestating within me.”
Catholicism, silver, princes
In the past, Atli has been open about living with depression and anxiety, which he feels creative endeavors can help alleviate. “The rap performance has been so mentally important to me that I’m forced to find some successor, or else I’ll explode or collapse like a black hole,” he confesses. “Whether it’s spoken word or electronic punk or contemporary dance or I don’t know. Readings give me sincere pleasure, but they lack the madness and bedlam, which I can’t be without.”
Atli is currently travelling in Spain and says he feels touched by the reception to his announcement. “It surprised me in all honesty and I don’t want to make anyone sad,” he adds. “I’ll try my best to deliver something frenetic and lovely instead.”
A graduate of history and creative writing from the University of Iceland, Atli claims a long-term interest in Spanish and Iberian history. “It’s some kind of a vacation, wandering around the central territories of Spain, drinking, sweating and loving,” he says. “Catholicism, silver and North African princes. And cheap rum.”