You know that dream you had of starting a band in high school? Of singing your heart out while confidently moving the strings of the bass along to the beat? That same dream that came crashing down the moment you realized that you don’t know how to play the bass and have never sung in front of anyone before?
The band GRÓA is currently living that dream. Despite having never played instruments other than classical piano before starting the group, the three teenagers that make up the band have released an album this year and are now performing across various stages in Reykjavík—all the while following their high school studies at Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð.
A secret talent
One of the members, Hrafnhildur Einarsdóttir (17) taught herself to play the drums from YouTube tutorials. Another member, Fríða Björg Pétursdóttir (17), likewise taught herself the bass from online how-to guides. The final member, Karólina Einarsdóttir (16) had never sung in front of anyone prior to the band’s first performance of an original song. It was not until a year after the band’s formation that the three members started to take music classes.
When the trio first started practicing together, their musical ambitions were a secret. Not even their friends knew what they were up to or that they could write songs.
“We were very shy about our music in the beginning, especially when it came to sharing our music with friends,” Karólina says. “But then we found other grassroots bands in Reykjavík through Post-Dreifing, which is an art collective that builds visibility and self-sufficiency for artists, and it has been easier since then. They encouraged us and we felt empowered by their words. People now recognize us for what we’re doing.”
“Brave” girl band
The band’s first public appearance was at Músíktilraunir, a well-known Icelandic music competition where the girls competed and made their way to the finals. After this performance, things became more serious for the band, and people started commenting on the unusual combination of young girls and the post-punk/riot punk genre.
“People started complimenting us on how brave we were as three girls to form a band,” Hrafnhildur says. “But it annoyed us a bit, to be honest. Only very few people were commenting on our songs. We put so much work into our music and the feedback we received was, ‘you are so brave.’ We didn’t even think about the fact that we are girls or that what we are doing is brave. We just wanted to know whether our music was good or not!”
Since then, the attitude of the band has changed slightly. Having realized that their girl band is unique in the business, the three musicians now think about feminism as they write their songs. “We realized that what we are doing is rare,” Friða states. “We want to be a good example for girls and we want to be part of showing that it doesn’t matter what gender you are—you can still do what you want in life.”
The future of GRÓA
After graduating high school, the three musicians would like to make music their full-time job. For now, though, they want to focus on making the most of their present. They are currently working on new songs, and plan to make a music video. “We also have several performances coming up,” Hrafnhildur says. “But we don’t have ‘dreams’ for the band. We are living the dream right now.”