“So it’s the second day of high school,” declares Jóhanna Rakel—one half of rap duo Cyber—with a smirk and clasped fingers. “And there’s this girl sitting there with big headphones, braided hair, a Led Zeppelin t-shirt, striped leggings, drawing all over her hands, short shorts over the leggings…”
Salka Valsdóttir—the other half of the group—raises her eyebrows. “Oh, they were not short shorts!” she says, rolling her eyes. A small spat ensures, with Gilmore-esque banter. The girls end up agreeing that the shorts were short, but were not “short-shorts.” This settled, Jóhanna continues: “I decided she would be my friend, and somehow that worked.”
Trash metal disco
This fateful Daisy Dukes-initiated meeting was the start of Cyber, which the two originally envisioned as a trash metal disco duo. “Jóhanna was going to play the keyboards and growl and I was going to play the drums and sing,” says Salka. “But we created one song and figured out it wasn’t really going anywhere.”
The group then chilled on the back burner—more of a joke between friends—until Salka volunteered them to perform at the second women’s rap night at Prikið, years later. “Jóhanna was living in Russia and she was going to be back ten days before the show,” says Salka. “I called her and I was like, ‘Hey Jóhanna, how’s Russia? By the way, we are going on stage in ten days. Oh, and we are a rap band now.’”
They both laugh at the absurdity of their formation, but the thing with Cyber is that absurdity is sort of the norm. If there is any word that could describe these girls, it’s fearless. They’re outspoken, intelligent, and not afraid to be subversive, with lyrics that range from sexy to philosophical to political to vapid. Their beats are weirder and more complicated than those in Reykjavíkurdætur, and the girls have created an elaborate stage show featuring aerobics, props, and a plethora of different outfits. They go on stage in sweater sets one day and bondage gear the next. Cyber truly doesn’t care what you think of them, which makes you, ironically, think of them more.
“Being a woman in hip-hop is a bit of a bummer sometimes,” says Salka. “But it is changing. I mean something like ‘Elskum þessar mellur’ (‘We Love These Hoes’) could never be made today, and that’s an improvement.” Jóhanna nods, continuing: “But if we get fake asses and become sexy then I think we could really make it in the hip-hop world.” This starts a lengthy debate on what plastic surgery you would get if God ordered you with no choice to pick one. “I would get a fake butt, and you can put that in the article,” Jóhanna decides.
Intrigued? Interested? The girls are playing at the Secret Solstice Festival this weekend. “Our theme for Solstice is gonna be so fucking sexy,” says Jóhanna, looking at us mischievously. “I dare people to miss that show. You will cry. Your lifestyle will change after this. You might find a new way to walk.” Salka nods, but stays tight-lipped.
“You must come to find out,” she finishes. “That’s all I will say. Oh, and Cyber is crap. But listen to us.”
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