Once a year, we at Grapevine honour the best and brightest of the Icelandic music scene by giving out awards to some of the artists who light up our lives on the little subarctic island. The Artist Of The Year award goes to Jófríður Ákadóttir for her work as JFDR, and with Samaris, Pascal Pinon and Gangly. You’re invited to join us for some drinks, laughs, and super special live performances from some of the winners at Húrra on January 5th.
Catching up with Icelandic music wunderkind Jófríður Ákadóttir is no easy thing. With a collection of projects that seems almost impossible to juggle, she has been busy touring the world and making music of her own over recent years. When I manage to find a gap in her schedule, I count myself lucky. “I’m actually on family vacation in Spain,” she tells me, her enthusiasm seeping through the tinny speakers of my computer.
Jófríður’s soft, breathy voice has become a trademark of her work in the past few years and, like a modern King Midas, everything she touches turns to gold. Her contributions to the dreamy lullabies of Pascal Pinon and the organic-electronic sound of Samaris have captured international attention, and that’s not to mention her electronic pop collaboration Gangly, and her solo project JFDR.
All these projects were meant to explore different angles of Jófríður’s creativity. A single approach to music seems almost inconceivable to her, as if it would foster a claustrophobic environment. “It’s got to do with my general interest in fluidity and with my impatience, as in not being able to chill,” she explains. “As soon as you have free time, you start the next thing, and then you have all these things growing around you, with no idea how you got there.” However, it’s also about learning from others. “I appreciate being able to do a lot of stuff,” she adds, “and not get too wrapped up in one thing or being too precious about anything.”
Take a step back
Despite her success, Jófríður is incredibly modest about her work, and her methods. “I wouldn‘t want anyone to think that what I do is perfect and everything is smooth and amazing,” Jófríður says. “Sometimes it gets stressful, sometimes I fuck up, but those mistakes—you just have to make them and appreciate the things you learn from them.”
It’s slightly baffling to see how driven and peacefully mature Jófríður is—there are no frills, and no games. Whether she recognises it or not, her thoughts bloom with the angst and fears of a generation of young people who are still learning how to allow themselves to make mistakes, and to realise what kind of person they are beyond other people’s perceptions.
Sometimes, then, the only thing left to do is to take a step back. For Jófríður that time came when she realised she hadn’t spent enough time working on new music. She took almost two months off to work on her new album. “I was so scared,” she admits. “I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, and that I wouldn’t be able to show up. But it was the opposite. It was a kind of relief—switching the mindset, switching the flow and feeling how much I had missed it.”
It’s great to hear that she is back on track, and with such ardent passion it’s fair to say that an exciting new adventure has only just begun.