The self-proclaimed “medium-curious musician” Katrín Helga Ólafsdóttir is an up-and-coming artist studying composition at Iceland University of the Arts. She is known under her artist name K.óla and is a member of indie dream pop band Milkhouse.
Her songs are a mellow and heartwarming mix of electronic and classical instrumentation. “I use music to express my feelings and have fun,” says Katrín. “So my songs can be both melancholic and happy. It’s all about forgetting worries and having fun, even while struggling with some weird emotions.”
In 2016 K.óla scored a high school theatre production titled ‘1984’ and last year she self-released her album ‘Glasmanía’ during her ‘skapandi sumarstarf’—the Icelandic word for the summer-long artist residency offered to young artists by the municipality of Kópavogur. Literal translation: “creative summer job.”
“In my creative summer job I get space to do artistic stuff,” she says. “This summer I’m writing a book—called ‘Nettspeki’—of conversations with my friends where we try to figure out what the core of being cool is.”
Most of K.óla’s music can be found on her SoundCloud page, entitled ‘K.óla (demo channel)’. “It is a place where I put my music when I don’t want to release it officially but want it out of my head,” she says. “Whether it is making new music or sewing books, I post what I am doing on my Facebook page.”
K.óla’s practice as a musician is hands-on and in the spirit of DIY. “When I self-released ‘Glasmanía’ I handmade sixty CDs, ten LPs and three cassettes,” she says. She also makes illustrated and hand-sewn notebooks, saying: “At first I only made them for my friends but now I’ve made so many so I started selling them.”
Katrín plays multiple instruments and sings, as well as recording, mixing and mastering all at once. While most of her artistic work is music-related, she doesn’t want to limit herself to one medium. “It can be so much fun to mix things up and attempt to stimulate more than just the audience’s ears,” she says. “I also don’t like labelling myself. When am I a composer? A musician? A writer? A poet?”
People Are Important
Katrín is also a strong believer in collaboration. She often works with others on videos, costume design and concerts. “Other people are important,” she explains. “If you can build a house out of music on your own then you can build a whole castle with other people bringing their input and knowledge into the piece.”
K.óla’s influences include Björk, Joanna Newsom, Grimes, Jerkcurb and Ragnar Kjartansson, who is known to mix music with theatre within the realm of fine arts, which rings true to with her ideas. “I like how Ragnar’s art—which is often music and performance related—fits more into museums rather than concert venues,” she says. “I really like working with theatre where other mediums can blossom. There, timeless mediums such as props and costumes blend with music and human emotions.”
K.óla has a full schedule these days and is working on putting more music out into the cosmos. “I promised to release an album on my birthday on August 7th. But I will maybe have to delay it a little bit,” she finishes, light-heartedly.
Listen to K.óla at http://soundcloud.com/katrinhelga and follow her on Facebook.
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