From Iceland — Making Of An Artist: Badass Women And Political Art With Brynhildur Karlsdóttir

Making Of An Artist:  Badass Women And Political Art With Brynhildur Karlsdóttir

Making Of An Artist: Badass Women And Political Art With Brynhildur Karlsdóttir

Published August 27, 2018

Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Brynhildur Karlsdóttir has made some serious waves in the punk universe as the incredible singer of the punk band Hórmónar—’whores, hand, and hormones’—which you can read more about on page 28. We sat down with the charismatic musician to find out what motivates her to give it her all on the stage and then some.

Britney Spears

My first big musical experience was when I was 6 years old and my big sister gave me all her Britney Spears records. I couldn’t understand the lyrics in the songs so I made up my own that sounded correct.

“I could just as easily say, despite everything, I just want to be Britney Spears.“

In retrospect, the lyrics didn’t really matter, it was more about the girl power, her confidence and the catchy melodies. I just remember wanting to be her, wanting to dress like her and wanting to sing and dance like her. The music I make now with my band, Hórmónar, is very different from Britney’s music. We play punk music and the lyrics are feminist and political, but even so, I could just as easily say, despite everything, I just want to be Britney Spears. Britney is a badass, the biggest influence on a whole generation of girls and no matter what, there will always be a part of me that wants to be her.


I think every Icelandic musician must be influenced by Björk, especially women. Her influence is so strong that, as a singer, a lot of effort goes into not trying to sound like her. This is a struggle because her voice and her music is engraved in me.

She’s been with me in every heartbreak since ‘Vulnicura’. Listening to that, I would cry with her over our broken hearts. That album is one of the few I prefer to listen to as a whole. It’s ritualistic.

If I listen to a new Björk song and I don’t necessarily like it right away then I’ll listen to the same song a year later and it’ll be my favorite song. That’s the thing with Björk—she is always at least a year ahead of us.

Elísabet Jökulsdóttir

One of my biggest idols today is Elísabet Jökulsdóttir. It can be hard for an artist to not seem pretentious, but Elísabet never is. She’s authentic and possesses extraordinary insight into her inner life, thoughts and emotions. This longing to be courageous and transparent in everything I do is something I have taken to heart.


M.I.A. has been a great inspiration, not just because she is a great musician but also an awesome artist and activist. She’s political, pointing at problems such as racism and ignorance, and it’s truly badass how she allows herself to be outrageous and controversial. The aim in my art is often political, like her.

Auður Jónsdóttir

Auður is a writer. She, like Elísabet, has a deep understanding of people, their emotions, their thoughts and their communication. What I like most about her writing is how she writes about women in her family. All these amazing women with their problems and complicated lives which she describes in the most beautiful way and always without resentment.

My family is full of wonderful, loud and complicated women and I want to write about them some day. In the book ‘Bréf frá Bergstaðastræti 57’ that Adolf Smári Unnarsson and I published this summer, I named my mom, grandma and great-grandma, but only briefly because I am still a little self-involved so the book about the women in my family won’t be out for some years.

Read more about Hórmónar here and read the makings of more artists here.

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