In a small pink, neon-lit basement studio in a remote part of Reykjavík, the members of the band Vök are coiling cords and packing up their gear after shooting a press video. Having just returned from touring in Eastern Europe, multi-instrumentalists Margrét Rán Magnúsdóttir and Einar Stef, and drummer Bergur Einar Dagbjartsson, have this process down to a science, methodically gathering equipment into various cases while carrying on casual conversation.
Into the light
Having risen to international prominence over the years since breaking out at the Músíktilraunir music contest in 2013, Vök are garnering more attention back home since the release of their latest album, ‘In The Dark’.
“It’s more immediate and accessible stuff,” says Margrét, about the uptick in local interest. “They are liking the pop stuff.”
Indeed, the new album is a large step away from the colder, mellow electropop of their previous album ‘Figure’. Vök used the opportunity to challenge themselves to create a highly accessible record full of shiny power-pop songs. “We tried to keep the old soundscape, but just make it accessible,” says Bergur. “It would have been way easier to just make the same album with the same sounds, just new songs. Making it more accessible is a new step. It’s better than doing the same thing over and over again.”
Tame weeknd dragons
The writing process was led by Margrét and Einar, who together laid out clear intentions from the onset. “We made a massive playlist with the sound we wanted to aim for,” says Margrét. “We had Tame Impala, The Weeknd, Little Dragon, MGMT, a bit of eighties, a bit of now.” The songs then began from Margrét creating a half-formed concept, then passing it off to Einar to continue, and then merging the process together before bringing it to their new producer, James Earp.
“He’s a major pop producer so we had to step back a little bit,” says Margrét. “We had to put down some ground rules. I think we were dancing on the line of being commercial.” His influence had a huge impact on the result, notably with the single “Erase You,” which Margrét wrote with James over two days. “He really pushed my singing,” she says. “He was really controlling to push me to use my voice more, so you can hear more of a power-pop diva.”
Although they say they were all doing well at the time of writing, Margrét tried to dig back into sadder, more vulnerable aspects of human emotion lyrically. “It’s basically about broken relationships,” says Margrét. “I kinda went a bit back to get rid of stuff. Bad friendships, relationships, heartbreak. It’s really normal human stuff but it’s more personal.”
At present time, the band’s lineup and their roles have changed drastically from where it began and they say this feels like a fresh start. Their focus now is with their audience. “It’s really fun playing the new stuff live,” says Margrét. “It has really changed the dynamic and you can feel more energy from the crowd.”
“More screams, less depression,” adds Bergur. “Well, a little bit of depression though.”
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