Samaris are one of the bright lights of the Reykjavík music scene. Famed for 90s-inflected breaks, sonorous clarinet and the intimate, breathy vocals of singer Jófríður Ákadóttir, their third (and best) album, ‘Black Light’, sees them picking up the BPM and transitioning from the Icelandic language into English. Here are Jófríður’s thoughts on the new LP.
Wanted 2 Say
Oh, what a tune! I remember the day Doddi sent this one to me. I immediately recorded demo vocals and kept humming the “wanted to say” line… when it came to writing the lyrics, I couldn’t get it out of my head, so we decided to stick with it. It’s a mixture of wanting to protect, preserve and appreciate nature, and joking about singing in English, and singing like Björk.
The working title for this one was “Nofríður” for a long time, because I wasn’t in the studio when the beat and chords were laid down, and the guys replaced vocals with Doddi singing into a vocoder. We were so obsessed with the chords we would listen to it on a loop for hours. That’s why it’s still six minutes… the first version was actually about twenty.
This is the most sensual track of the album. It’s an unusual mantra—it’s structured as if you’re desperately holding onto something you can’t stop repeating. But all things change, like a gradient sky.
This is one of those remix back-and-forth songs. We’d made something, recorded something, and the next thing you know, Doddi had completely changed it! I think, for me, T3MPO is our ultimate 90s anthem… a tribute to a musical era we more or less missed.
When we started making this album we went to Berlin, rented an Airbnb flat and borrowed some speakers from a friend. We wrote a bunch of songs there, none of which made it to the album—except for a high-pitched sample of my voice crying “I WILL” in a very dramatic way. That became the core element of this song.
This is one of my favourites from the album. I’m a sucker for long, slightly complicated and busy melodies. I had to fight, and compromise a bit, to keep it in the track list. The lyrics are this beautiful and pointless high—like, you can just listen and decide for yourself, but it’s inspired by how I felt living in Reykjavík that summer. Everyone was so high up in the sky.
This one was mostly composed by Doddi. He did such a beautiful job. When he showed us the demo, we loved it, but we had a hard time figuring out how we could add something to it. In the end, it was more or less some whispering, written and recorded in the last recording session with Oculus in December.
This is one for the girls! We had been listening to so much RnB in the car when we were touring the year before, we had to have a go at making our own tribute. The melodies were all played live in Hljódriti and we got some help from the super-talented producer Andri Dagur from Gervisykur.
This is one of Doddi’s remixes. I think we’re just gonna make tracks like this in the future. Dancefloor stuff! All the clarinets were recorded in the staircase. It just sounded better somehow. Don’t listen to what people tell you about the best mic in the room or preamp or whatever. They create a system to rely on so they don’t have to be creative and spontaneous. Have fun, and trust your guts! Cool is only ever what you say it is!
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