Icelandic musician Sigurlaug Thorarensen never pretends to have it all figured out, but there is a clarity of mind behind her tentative words that doesn’t go unnoticed. Pensive but firm, this is Sillus—one of the most interesting emerging artists in the Icelandic music scene.
Despite her experimental approach to creating, it’s this quiet determination that makes her music spontaneous and effortless.
Just do it
“Before starting, I thought I had to have a specific idea of what I was doing,” Sillus explains. “I’d always wanted to make music but I didn’t know how to, so I hadn’t dared to. But then I just decided not to think about what it’s all supposed to sound like and see what I could do instead.”
Sillus was not new to the stage, having performed with both electro-pop star Berndsen and choir project Kórus, but playing all alone is a whole different experience—and no small feat for an introvert like her. Yet, on she went, from playing at Húrra to appearing on the off-venue schedule at Airwaves, sharing moments of intimacy in a process that was both exhilarating and terrifying.
On a learning curve
“When I’m creating things on my own the process is an outlet, kind of like writing a diary—it’s a very personal process,” she says.
“Instead, when you’re live you’re showing that process to the public, and it’s frightening. But I kind of decided for myself that it would just be a learning process—that I should give myself space to not have it all figured it out on stage.”
The results are compelling. She may still be on a learning curve when experimenting with beats, lyrics and vocal manipulation, but her warm, sultry voice ties it together, and feels ripe with possibilities. Add to the naiveté a touch of R&B, and you’ve got something like ‘Touchngo.’ If Sunday morning sex were a song, this would be it.
As of now, Sillus is still happily experimenting and building up her confidence, but fun projects are already on the horizon, including a collaboration with Örvar Smárason for his latest single ‘Photoelectric.’
To find spiritual and musical inspiration, she listens to other female musicians, from contemporary R&B, electronic and soul to classics like Billie Holiday. “It’s a way to seek an empowering inspiration,” she explains, “like a role model to look up to.”
Sillus is also conscious of the importance of sharing that feeling of empowerment with like-minded young women. To that end, she volunteers with non-profit organisation Stelpur rokka, teaching young girls how to play instruments. It also provides her with food for thought.
“Working in that environment and seeing girls being empowered, doing their thing without thinking about other people’s opinions I thought ‘wow, if 10-year-old girls can do it, I think I should also be able to!’” she laughs. Wait for her to release more of that incandescent energy and see: soon enough, she’ll take the world by storm.