Sólveig Matthildur takes to the murky stage of Húrra, dressed in black and bathed in red light. She surveys the crowd coolly as she starts the backing track—a warm tide of synths, strings and slow beats spills from the speakers. She paces the stage, swaying and closing her eyes, her face lost in a cloud of blonde hair, and in the deep pulse of the music. She steps to the mic and reveals an expressive, powerful vibrato voice that hangs gracefully within the fog of sound. The visual, emotional, and aural impact is a jolt of electricity—Sólveig’s music feels like a clear channel for the communication of raw emotion.
The emotion in question is given away in the title of her first solo album: ‘Unexplained Miseries & The Acceptance of Sorrow’. “It’s sadness, the album,” she says, a few days later, sitting in spitting summer rain outside a downtown café. “I had a breakup in March, so perhaps it makes sense with that. The ‘Unexplained Miseries’ were made before the breakup, but I could kind of feel it coming… the ‘Acceptance of Sorrow’ was made after. I also got obsessed with the colour red, so that’s why everything’s red: the artwork, and what I’m wearing now.”
Despite these melancholic themes, Sólveig is a hugely active presence in the local scene. As well as being a member of synth-gloom band Kælan Mikla, she’s also one of the people running the Hið Myrka Man record label, and the driving force—along with collaborator Kinnat Sóley—behind the new underground music magazine Myrkfælni. It’s an interesting contrast between expressions of deep sadness, and constant activity.
“Well, you have ups and downs,” says Solveig. “When you’re down, maybe you get ideas; when you come back up, you make them happen. It’s a good balance. When you feel something, I like that you can put it down in words, or music, or painting, and you can look at it. There’s the picture inside of you—what you feel—and then you bring it out to understand it. When you have clouds in your mind, you can think, ‘This makes no sense, what should I do?’, but if you say it out loud it can actually be really simple.”
Just doing it
In keeping with Sólveig’s DIY aesthetic, the album was self-released on Bandcamp, almost spontaneously. “I decided to release it because I have some gigs in Europe this year,” she explains. “I wanted to have something to sell to people, because that’s how you get money. I asked Kinnat, ‘Should I just do it?’, and she said ‘Yes!’, so I asked her to make a cover and just uploaded it to Bandcamp.”
Her attitude to touring is similarly independent. “Kælan Mikla has a label in Athens, but we organise the tours ourselves. I like being able to say: ‘Let’s go to Lubljana on this day, and then play in the middle of nowhere, and rent a cottage, and listen to the wolves.’ It’s much nicer than going onto the tour bus. I don’t think that’s ‘the dream.’”
So, what is the dream? Sólveig pauses, thoughtfully. “I just really like being onstage and singing,” she finishes. “It’s a real release. I feel my heart explodes when I sing. I can’t explain it—but I’m happy I’m doing it.”
Download ‘Unexplained Miseries & The Acceptance of Sorrow’ at solveigmatthildur.bandcamp.com.