Gyða’s latest album, “Ox,” has been garnering accolades the world over lately, as the artist continues to exceed expectations. But what was the inspiration, the stories, the processes behind the songs on the album? Gyða breaks it down for us, track by track:
“The name of the album comes from this song as most alphabets start with aleph, originating from the Egyptian hieroglyph which depicts an ox’s head.
“Alphabet is about reading between the lines, to connect the dots of the sensory waves that make up our reality and the empathy it takes to see into others.
“This song has many muses, including Virginia Woolf and Nikola Tesla. I owe its existence to Kjartan Sveinsson who was in the room with me when it was born, asleep on the sofa. He also left his DNA firmly in the arrangement. It was recorded live with him and Merope, then I recorded an orchestra of cello and flute overdubs in the basement of Figure8 Studio in NYC, where I lived for most of the pandemic and where most of the album came into existence.”
“I wrote the text in a stream of consciousness while sick. It is a quite visceral praise to embodiment, as well as a love letter to my shadow side, the importance of embracing both darkness and light and to hold non-dualistic thinking when it comes to morality and to accepting ourselves and thus others.”
“The lyrics are from the 12th century nun Hildegard von Bingen. I played the hymn on cello on my first album ‘Epicycle,’ so now I decided to sing the lyrics of that same hymn. The melody poured out effortlessly with the words. It was inspired by a documentary about nuns, which I was pitching for. Didn’t get the job but this song was born.”
Cute Kittens Lick Cream
“I was watching these cute kittens lick cream and inside the amalgamation of their purrs I could hear music. I grabbed a pen and wrote down what I heard, so the song came into existence.”
“It’s perhaps the most personal song I’ve ever written because I allowed myself to go inside a pain which I want rather to keep private.”
“An attempt to create a rift in the membrane of existence; so, to see or feel for a moment what lies there beyond.”
“The lyrics burst forth in an email to a lover just after a volcanic eruption in 2014. I never thought it would end on an album but I’ve performed it live many times, usually a capella. It is the most collaborative song on the album. I’d written out most of the arrangements but here everyone improvised freely. The drums are mostly samples from Julians Sartorius’s Beat Diary, recorded onto my phone from my record player. Shahzad Ismaily added his highly unique bass playing, Alex Sopp goes wild on flute, Merope added their magic and there is a sample from Efterklang from the original version I did back in 2014 — an incredible ingredient to cook with along with master chef Úlfur who co-produced the song with me.”
“One of three songs from the album which was born during a song-a-day session. This one is simply the lo-fi demo I sent in one day.”
“This might be the only true love song I’ve ever written. It was recorded live with Kjartan and Merope. I wanted the song to blossom like a nocturnal Datura and Úlfur wrote this incredibly glorious cello arrangement for it. I’ve made a video of me dancing a duet with a ballerina. Coming soon!”
You can get “Ox” direct from Smekkleysa’s website and listen to it on Spotify. Gyða will be performing songs from this album, and other works, at Gamla Bíó on July 7th at 21:00. Tickets available on tix.is.
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