Track By Track: ‘Sinking Island’ by MIMRA - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Track By Track: ‘Sinking Island’ by MIMRA

Track By Track: ‘Sinking Island’ by MIMRA

Published November 6, 2017

MIMRA is the pseudonym of singer, composer and producer María Magnúsdóttir, who just released her album ‘Sinking Island’. She will follow it up with a release concert with a full band in Bæjarbíó, Hafnarfjörður, on November 8th. We asked María to talk about each track on her new album.

1. Our Great Escape
An energetic one of those ‘run-for-your-life-or-die’ songs. It’s about the couple that knows both can never survive, hence: “this paradise will eat us alive”. After writing it I fantasized about it being featured in the Hunger Games movies, which could have been quite fitting actually.

2. Play With Fire
I wrote this song to a guy I dated very briefly, whom I met on Tinder in London. Obviously he can never know of this song! Anyway, I got my friend and insanely amazing British producer SAKIMA to co-produce it with me, you should check his stuff out.

3. Feathers
I wrote this song in great sadness for a friend who was going through a traumatic life experience. Since I was living abroad I felt I could do very little to help.

4. Mushroom Cloud
A playful maze of sounds and colours that I’m very proud of. I wrote and arranged this song as a finale for a graduation recital. I wanted to create an explosion of happiness so I decided to write a song about how my family laughs too loudly. “Atomic laughter in a benign mushroom cloud” being the opening line.

5. Söngur Valkyrjunnar (Valkyrie Song)
I got inspired to write this song after playing around with a brand new loop pedal. I was experimenting making loops in 5/4 instead of the conventional 4/4 and adding vocal lines in fifths, which sounds extremely Icelandic. As a result the song is about the Valkyrie who spends the rest of her days looking for her lost Viking lover.

6. Build a Home
Build a home is a pure love song. Every burden is lighter to bear when its weight is shared between two people. As I recorded the song I was playing around with sounds for the beat, so if you listen closely you can hear me pop bubblegum!

7. Sinking Island
After a breakup the horizon seemed big and blue and endless ahead. The person in the lyrics tried to keep her island afloat but in the end couldn’t. As the island sunk she flew off in a big air balloon, not knowing what the future would hold. This is the title track and personally my favourite song on the album.

8. Sunshine Has Been Drinking
My most orchestral and acoustic song; you get strings and horns, glockenspiel and clarinets, the whole soundtrack package. I wrote this song inspired by the year I lived in Argentina at 18, trying to cram some of my experience from that time into a song. Mostly remembering a random proposal from across the street as well as the unbearable heat.

9. Reiðiþula (Anger chant)
A poem that emerged one night. I decided to keep it as spoken word on top of this labyrinth of distorted beats, exploding synths and dark soundscape. It’s about the outburst when the anger builds up inside and not knowing where to direct it, “angry towards everyone except you”.

10. Fuel
The calm after the storm. A tiny song extremely rich in the flowing timbres of the voice, kalimba and clarinet. An ode to my fuel.


11. Coraline
A song I wrote for a voice and string quartet. I recorded the strings for this song differently than with the other songs. Here we recorded the whole string section together probably two years before I finalized the production, adding beats, guitar overtones and distorted soundscapes for effect. Coraline is the ‘other woman’.

12. I Cannot Sleep Tonight
It’s the middle of the night and a woman is half-whispering, half-singing in the bedroom as she watches her lover sleep, confessing that she’s leaving him, with the accompaniment of an accordion sounding from the busy city street.

Check out MIMRA on social media. Her release concert is 8:30 on Wednesday, November 8th, in Bæjarbíó, Hafnarfjörður. Tickets are available online.

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