Nestled into the cosy pink suede couch at Emilie & the Cool Kids, Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir sips her tea and speaks to me with hushed, precise words. The musician and composer is known for her multitude of works—most notably, for her solo work as Kira Kira, and for co-founding the Kitchen Motors collective with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson—but today we are talking about her most recent creation: Kórus.
The project began three years ago when Kira returned to Iceland after some time away. “I had been missing Kitchen Motors, so I had this idea of reawakening it, but Kórus ended up forming instead,” she says. “Kórus is many of the things that Kitchen Motors was, but it’s different, too. It’s been a delight to see how open the members are to experimentation.”
Kórus began as a small, intuitively selected group, but is now comprised of about two dozen individuals of various and powerful talents and magnetic energies. “Throughout these years there have been a handful of people that joined the choir that I didn’t know before, that have become some of my best friends,” says Kira. “Just witnessing friendships spark within the choir has been really rewarding. Now we’ve spent a lot of time together, so we’ve really tuned into each others’ friendships, support, creativity and this amazing exchange of information, knowledge, vibes and sparkles. You can only really find that when you throw thirty different creatives into a pot.”
Among those creative are some well-known names in Icelandic contemporary music, such as Bedroom Community label maestro Valgeir Sigurðsson, who is hosting Kórus’ recording sessions at his own Greenhouse Studios (“We’re so fortunate that he is in the choir,” Kira says.) Other known members include singer-songwriter Pétur Ben and sisters Krístin Anna & Gyða Valtýsdóttir of múm. Also within the choir are the emerging talents of Sigurlaug Thorarensen (Sillus), Marteinn Sindri, Elín Elísabet Einarsdóttir, Snorri Hallgrímsson and Jelena Ćirić, all of whom have composed stand-out pieces that Kórus are now recording.
People on fire
“It was always my dream that members would compose the pieces that we sing,” says Kira. “We tried a lot of different things. I was patient and always hoping not to have to force the idea, so I was very happy to find that that’s what really lit people on fire.” Among these are Sigurlaug’s piece “Suðurlandið” (“Early this morning it started ringing in my head! It’s so catchy.”), Elín’s piece written for voice and ukulele, and Jelena’s piece “Promised Land” sung in both Serbian and English (“It’s a really powerful, percussive piece. Deal with it.”)
At this stage, Kira feels Kórus is a point of exploration and experimentation which they plan to dive deeper into. “It’s a bit of a harvest time because we’ve put a lot of hard work into it, going from being in the woods not really knowing what we were doing, to now being in a space which feels really exciting and full of potential,” she says. “And I always want it to be first and foremost about togetherness, exploration, sharing, friendship, personalities, souls, and spirits.”
Kórus are currently in studio and will be performing at the Háskar festival this Easter. Follow then on Facebook here.