“I want people to be afraid of me,” proclaims Vigdís Ósk Howser Harðardóttir, the feminist rapper and poet known as Fever Dream. Her new track “Reyndu BARA” is out, with an accompanying music video that’s a scathing attack on the male dominance of Icelandic hip hop.
Vigdís, a former member of the feminist collective Reykjavíkurdætur, maintains that a hierarchy has already been established in the nascent scene. “You can’t talk about this stuff without them getting defensive,” she says. “I’m just pointing out the obvious inequality. As soon as the discussion becomes difficult to them, we’re just annoying, we should watch what we say.”
Reykjavíkurdætur faced opposition from day one, and were famously berated by established rappers for their “bad music”. As she’s grown more confident in her abilities, Vigdís says that now, she doesn’t need acceptance. “Every time I put out new music I was scolded, told I suck, shouldn’t be doing this, and that somebody should rape me,” she says. “It really went that far.”
“I don’t need to do a track with the boys to feel like ‘yes, I’m finally in’,” she continues. “They just hype each other because they’re friends. They’re not my enemies, but I don’t need their acceptance anymore. People act like I’m something new, but I’ve been performing for three years with Reykjavíkurdætur, and released a bunch of stuff. I’ve had festival promoters tell me ‘Well, you haven’t really done anything yet’ and I’m like ‘yeah sure, I just played to a crowd of 20,000 at Roskilde last year.’”
Last year, Vigdís left Reykjavíkurdætur to focus on her own music. “Those girls are awesome,” she exclaims. “Reykjavíkurdætur didn’t even need to do anything provocative. We just existed, and that was provocative in itself. We never had the leeway to be amateurs, we started rapping and everyone shouted how much we sucked, as if every Icelandic rapper is great from day one. The music I made two years ago, it’s not something I’d make now. But there has to be the scope to improve and participate. Why do 16 year old boys get more flexibility than adult women?”
Vigdís has been making waves as a live performer, with her reputation on the stage preceding her solo studio releases. Her experience as a performance poet plays a part. “I’m direct in my delivery and I enunciate,” she says. “I’m not mumbling half-sentences of made up words. My lyrics have a message. When I try to move away from that, I’m like ‘now you’re writing a party track, Vigdís, just be chill and leave out the political stuff’—even then, there’s always the underlying seasoning of the politics I identify with.”
An EP is set to drop in late June, produced by her collaborator Marteinn Hjartarson, aka BNGR BOY. “We’re creating Twin Peaks inspired soundscapes—horror rap,” she says. The “Reyndu BARA” video showcases what to come and features her five adorable dogs. “I love and worship them. There’s also a bunch of friends from my crew, partying and striking poses. The video is inspired by classic rap videos with a horror film twist.”