Solo artist SiGRÚN—aka Sigrún Jónsdóttir—is a fascinating presence on the Icelandic music scene. She first appeared in 2016 with the ‘Hringsjá’ EP after an early career spent as a touring musician with Björk, Sigur Rós and Florence and the Machine. “It’s been so freeing for me to make my own music,” she says, her eyes glimmering. “It’s more responsibility, but I get something completely different out of it.”
A call to consciousness
Two years later, SiGRÚN’s debut album is imminent. ‘Onælan’ is told from the female perspective, and is about knowing oneself and being soft enough to allow for growth. “The ideas behind the album are built on the learning period when I went from being a link in the chain of other productions, to becoming the creator,” she says. “It’s like when you’re transitioning from being a teenager to an adult—the album is similarly a call to consciousness, and knowing what you want.”
The first single from the album is “Anneal Me.” “I found that word when I was preparing for a recording session and fell in love with it,” says Sigrún. “It’s the act of heating metal so you can bend it however you like. The song is about creating your future and pushing to continuously learn about yourself.” This title also inspired the name of the album—‘Onælan’—which means “to anneal” in Old English.
Next came “Vex,” which means “Growing,” in English. “It’s about realising that if you’ve decided on growing and you keep working at it, then it is possible,” says Sigrún. In the chorus you’ll hear the words “Hún er þú,” meaning “She is you.” The “She” in the song is a figure that Sigrún invites listeners to connect to and discover through the album.
There is a subtle narrative on the album with two main storytellers—She and The Empress. Sigrún elaborates on the significance of the Empress. “In the process of writing the album I drew the Empress card from my tarot deck,” she explains. “She stands for making something without knowing exactly what it means, and trusting your intuition.”
The album’s artwork was made in collaboration with Viðar Logi and Jón Albert Méndez. The imagery is a series of warped portraits depicting Sigrún as an otherworldly figure. “I raided all the crafts stores in Reykjavík for slime and goo and they were constantly slathering me in it,” she says. The figure becoming an embodiment of the Empress, and another place.
Sigrún first played Airwaves back in 2016. “I remember being so stressed to perform my material I began trying to calm myself three months beforehand,” she recalls. “It was the first time I was playing live without an instrument in front of me, which has always protected me, like a shield.”
This time around, SiGRÚN will premiere her new album at her Airwaves concert. “It took me a long time to learn to take space and find the feeling I had when writing the music, in front of other people,” she laughs. Three years later, not only has she found her space and her sound, but she’s bringing us with her into another world. “‘Anneal me’ came out on a full moon, ‘Vex’ on a new moon and the whole album will be released on the autumn equinox,” she finishes. And indeed, it seems the stars aligning for a new chapter in her career.
See SiGRÚN at Iceland Airwaves 2018.