IDK IDA steps out onto the stage dressed in a billowing white coat, a sharp line drawn down the centre of her face. Her music judders to life—metallic groans spill forth in an amorphous, tectonic, industrial rhythm. She stalks the space, dancing expansively and intuitively, her strong voice nested inside the waves of heavy sound. It’s an arresting performance of abstract, creative electronic music.
By day, IDK IDA is the mild-mannered Ida Schuften Juhl, a Dane who emigrated to Iceland in 2015. Initially, she lived in an office building in Grandi, producing her music in her bedroom, but quickly made inroads into local music scene. “I really like the atmosphere here, and the openness,” she says. “I’ve connected with the most lovely people you could imagine. When I was first asked to play live I was totally unprepared, but decided just to do it—to learn on the stage, and be open about that process.”
Giving a fuck
Her openness to the idea of performance as an avenue for development has given Ida a rare sense of ease on the stage. “I made a decision when starting this to not give a fuck when I’m performing,” she says. “I have something to say, and it’s important to me. It’s important for me to connect with people, and bleed my heart out onto the floor. I’m not sure where that person comes from, but it must be somewhere inside of me: the demand to be listened to, and the need to prove what one person can do with a creative project.”
Ida is highly invested in her music. Onstage, she faces the audience with just a mic and a mixer, exuding a sense of total commitment that filters into the crowd’s rapt appreciation of her shows. One reason for her dedication is the personal nature of the lyrics. “They come from the darker side of my personality, and they’re driven by difficult emotions,” says Ida. “As a young female producer, I wanted to not be pretty and perfect all the time. I wanted to take that weight off my shoulders—to prove I could have a punk mentality, and break the PA if I want to.”
Today, Ida is bringing her skills to bear on her first album, slated for a November release under the working title ‘The Bug.’ It’ll feature new tracks and reworked early material. “Production has been an important tool in creating my universes,” she says. “The first electronic song I ever did will be on this release—redone, of course, to bring it to the same level [as the new ones]. But it’s important to keep it on there—it’s been with me all this time.”
The album’s title came from a postcard Ida was given by her mother on her eighteenth birthday. “It had two scarab beetles on it,” she recalls. “One with a silver shell, and one with a gold one. My mother told me, ‘You are a very open and loving person, but you need to remember to protect yourself—you need a shell, but it can be a beautiful shell.’ I’ve had it on my desk ever since. Then, it has my themes of computers and electronics—a bug can shut down a system. So there’s a double meaning there.”
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