Back in 2013, before the ticking time bomb of the Icelandic rap scene had exploded, a new band called Cryptochrome released their debut self-titled album. A mixture of textural electronic interludes and hip-hop, it pricked up the ears of many 101 music scene insiders.
Now, three years later, comes the ambitious follow-up, ‘More Human’. I meet with Anik—an Anglo-German rapper and producer, based in Reykjavík—and Icelandic vocalist Una to find them fizzing with excitement about the new material. Both come from multi-disciplinary, creative backgrounds, and have been enjoying putting their skills to good use.
“It’s been really positive to gather all the energy from my different creative outputs, and put it all into one project,” says Una. “It feels like everything I’ve done has been leading up to this—whether it’s acting, design, marketing, or singing. When you grow up doing many things, it can be difficult—you hit a point where you feel like you’ve done an awful lot, but it’s scattered around and doesn’t add up to much. But here, in this band—this is what I’ve been working towards. It all really makes sense.”
“And the amount of enthusiasm that’s been accumulating is amazing,” says Anik. “People are coming from all over to help us, of their own accord. It gives us a lot of motivation and energy.”
The magic number
As well as releasing a stream of high-quality videos in 2016, Cryptochrome have recently welcomed a new member in Leigh Lawson, a producer who worked on the debut LP. “When we were making the first album we were playing with beats and sourcing sounds from everywhere,” says Anik. “We went to Leigh’s studio in Kent to mix and master it, and he was mindblown. He said ‘This could really be something.’”
Leigh duly came out to Iceland to work on the second album. “We recorded everything for ‘More Human’ in six days, with his portable studio,” says Una. “Leigh just basically fell in love with Iceland, and moved out here to set up a studio.”
Anik speaks very highly of Leigh’s work. “The people he’s been working with so far—their jaws have dropped at what he can do,” he says. “Leigh is very high calibre. And it’s great for the band to have a base, to develop the live show and move things on.”
The proof is in the results—Cryptochrome’s new material is a clear step up. The recently released “Crazy Little You” is an infectious pop song with clear hit potential.
“We still don’t classify ourselves solely as pop,” says Una. “It’s electronica, too, and it has hip-hop elements. But we want our music to sound as good as commercially made pop music. It shouldn’t sound different if you play it after Beyoncé.” She stops and grins, finishing: “We want to change pop!”
See Cryptochrome play live at the Grapevine Happening at Húrra on June 3rd.
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