One of the most compelling Icelandic music acts in recent years, CYBER, have just released the video for their single ‘Hold’ from last November’s EP ‘Bizness’. Founding member Jóhanna Rakel tells the Grapevine that although the song text is in Icelandic, the video itself is meant to be a visual representation of the lyrics.
‘Hold’ is a song first and foremost about waiting; both in the everyday sense of waiting in line at the bank and, as the band describes, “where the band members ask themselves questions about the time and work artists spend in exchange for the hope of greatness or at least some sort of a reimbursement from society.”
“If you asked us to we could probably write an album about this feeling,” Jóhanna Rakel tells us. “Me and Salka started pretty young in the music business. We never thought ‘when do we get our big break?’ or ‘when are we getting a chance, when are people going to listen to us?’ until we got older. And then we noticed there were a lot of young male rappers that release one song and are now household names. When that keeps happening over and over… I’m not gonna say we got frustrated about it, but in a way we did.”
“It’s not a question of whether we think our music is better or not,” she continues. “But when it keeps happening, it becomes so obvious to us that it’s maybe not just about the music. We took it more personally, I guess, further along the way. And when you take something personally, you start thinking, ‘What am I doing wrong? How is my persona affecting my art?’ You start randomly wondering if this or that person hates you, and that’s not a nice feeling. Of course it’s mostly just bullshit; you’re just reacting to your situation.”
One very telling lyric from the song, “They say that Hell is a long line that goes in circles”, gets to the core of the message behind ‘Hold’.
“This is the same feeling; standing in line waiting for your turn, when you’re actually going in circles,” Jóhanna Rakel tells the Grapevine. “Because in the end, you’re not waiting for somebody to give you the chance or validate you. It’s gonna be you in the end who decides that you’ve made it. But to get to that mentality, you maybe need to walk in a few circles in the line of Hell. I think everyone has to go through this themselves.”
The song itself is in Icelandic, but non-Icelandic speakers needn’t worry; the video—produced by the production company Skýlið, CYBER and Birna Schram—illustrates the text eloquently.
“The video is pretty lyrical,” she says. “It follows a lot of the things we’re saying in the text. The song being in Icelandic, I wanted the video to translate the literal meaning of the words, in a way, so that it becomes more international. It’s also about being kind of something, but kind of not. You’re this big-shot businessperson, but you’re also fucking nervous at the same time. You’re supposed to be calm and collected but you’re jittery. The video has very clear visual language about frustration and patience, basically.”
CYBER have recently come back from a European tour with Special K, and by Jóhanna Rakel’s account listeners will soon be in for a treat. CYBER themselves have more projects coming up in the near future, and the individual members have solo projects of their own, so keep your ears open and your eyes peeled for more magic from one of Iceland’s rapidly ascending musical gems.
As with any music video, there are multiple creative minds behind its birth. The full credits for the song and its video are the following:
Director: Kolfinna Nikulásdóttir
Script: Jóhanna Rakel
Cinematography: Sigurður Möller Sívertsen
Assistant camera: Andri Eyjólfsson
Post Production: Gabríel Benedikt Bachmann and Sigurður Möller Sívertsen
Choreographer: Halla Þórðardóttir
Producer: Birna Schram, CYBER and Skýlið
Make up: Hrafnhildur Kristjánsdóttir and Elín Arna Kristjánsdóttir
Styling: Karin Sveinsdóttir
Hair: Steinunn Jónsdóttir
Song: Salka Valsdóttir and Edvard Oliversson
Lyrics: Salka Valsdóttir
Thanks to: Red Bull, Ljósmyndaskólinn, IceLimo, Deig, Red Bull, 17 sortir, Aktu taktu, Flatey, KORE RVK, Skelfiskmarkaðurinn (RIP)
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!