Jófríður Ákadóttir is a singer of many guises. She’s the voice of acclaimed electronica trio Samaris, one half of Pascal Pinon, and one third of low-key supergroup GANGLY. For the past year, she’s been recording her debut solo album, under the JFDR moniker.
“‘Brazil’ is a very dear album to me,” she says. “I should say that I never intended to make this album—it happened unexpectedly, like a particularly beautiful sunset. I met a very singular person, Shahzad Ismaily, who believed in me to the extent that I gained the superpowers needed to start this—and to see it through.”
It started with a drive from Keflavík airport to Reykjavík, one wild summer in my life. My heart had spread its strings and tangled them tightly and abstractly. My schedule was chaotic and nonsensical—there was never a still moment, until that particular Whitsunday drive, which tied together two worlds: away, and home. On one side was the ocean, and on the other a wide, empty landscape. The bus drove alongside a flock of Arctic terns, and I yearned to be one—to free myself of the mess I had hanging over me, ahead and behind.
As much as “White Sun” is a manifestation of disorder, “Anew” is the moment when things start to clear up. The lyrics, melody, and chord progression attest to a fresh start, and a celebratory cymbal welcomes you into the new world that’s waiting.
I took inspiration from the most profound love letter I have ever received and stitched together its words and emotions directly into the song. It’s about the randomness in our paths; asking immense questions like how we got to the place we find ourselves in, and how we make the connections that matter the most to us. The music contains much mystery and openness, and the chord progression never resolves; it loops three chords instead of four in a moving interval of fifths, never fully confirming its emotion or intention.
“Wires” is about an explosion of connectivity with another person, so strong it was almost as if there was physical wiring between the two.
Stephen Spaccarelli and I were both residents of Figure 8 Recording—Shahzad’s Brooklyn studio—the first night I stayed there. I wanted to practice, and finish the lyrics for this song, but his sleeping situation was only a step away from the piano. He insisted I play anyway, and I lulled him to sleep, whispering quietly and pressing the keys as lightly as I could while I formulated lyrics about the beauty and sadness that passes you by in your dreams.
This is the ultimate heartbreak song. I had to write it, and I’ve never entered that space since then. It was practicing facing the current, and letting it wash me over, and ultimately letting go completely.
I started writing “Airborne” in this person’s bed, and I finished it in the studio, as I was processing the gentlest and most comforting of break-ups. Of course, they never are. Shahzad and I drew it up with intense, chaotic drumming, pushing through any empty space left. We were both processing the situation in our own way.
Destiny’s Upon Us
The beginning of August is the end of summer—a time for harvest. A seed turns into a plant, that turns into a seed again. This song is a celebration of that.
The very first session, when Shahzad and I recorded White Sun, we also lay down the skeleton for its sister song, Journey. It was deep in the midst of winter and no ending in sight. I was pushing myself to make it through, to make it to the end of the earth’s spin around the sun, where the journey ends and begins again.