Brynhildur Karlsdóttir has had a lot going on in the Icelandic music scene. She has been a founding member and the lead singer of the punk band Hórmónar since 2016, who quickly became legends of the genre.
A 2019 graduate of the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, that same year she also teamed up with classical composer Friðrik Margrétar-Guðmundsson to form Kvikindi, a band that has defied any permanent definition—and they’ve certainly been making a name for themselves in Iceland. Their debut album ‘Ungfrú Ísland’ dropped in early October, and they will be playing Airwaves this Saturday at KEX Hostel.
But first things first: what is Kvikindi?
“We’ve been juggling many sentences,” Brynhildur says of trying to define the act, “Dance, dance pop, cyber pop. Dance pop phenomenon is one of my favorites. We want to have a world around the band, if that makes sense. It’s kind of like girly glitter. Also honest, talking about real stuff, but humorous.”
A great example of this is the song Ókei, a single that made a real splash in the Icelandic media last year, and not just because of the catchy dance beat or the charmingly disturbing music video, but also because she dedicated the song to a friend of hers who had taken her life in the wake of a horrifying sexual assault case.
Putting that much of one’s heart on the line is very much in keeping with what Brynhildur is all about, and the album itself managed the rare achievement of being a creation she has been mostly happy with.
“I often feel when I release something and I look at it, I’m like, I would have done this or that differently,” she says. “But I was actually really happy with this album. I mean, of course, I hear everything, and there are maybe like two details I would like to change.”
Brynhildur explains however, that the process of making the album “took way longer than we anticipated.”
“We wanted to release it last year,” she says. “But then, when I was listening to it I was like, ‘Okay, this was just the amount of time it needed.’”
The differing backgrounds of Brynhildur and Friðrik have been a complimentary combination, and made Ungfrú Ísland what it is.
“We thought about it as a whole, and how we wanted the songs to feed into each other,” Brynhildur explains. “Like in how some songs end on the same note that the next one starts on. We really thought about it as a whole, but also song by song.”
This included experimentation with vocal effects, trying out what the studio is capable of, and drawing from their different musical origins.
“I am coming from a punk background, and he is coming from a classical background,” she says. “So being in a studio where the possibilities are endless, this was very exciting for the both of us.”
“It’s like me trying to make some things make sense,” Brynhildur says of the lyrical content. “To work through the past year of my life: love and also loss, working on yourself, going to a psychiatrist. All this stuff I was going through and maybe many people go through before you have kids when you’re like 20 something. Figuring out life.”
I remark that this seems like pretty heavy stuff, but she offers an assessment of her lyrics that could easily be applied to life itself: “It’s also just very humorous, and fun. I think there are some heavy songs. And yeah, we were trying to say something, but it’s still silly and fun.”
Ungfrú Ísland is out on Spotify.
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