At only 19-years-old, Bríet Elfar, aka BRÍET, has the composure of someone far older. When she speaks, the young musician picks her words carefully, sometimes seeming surprised that she’s being interviewed at all. It’s endearing, and it underlines that she’s still acclimatising to the overnight fame she found after releasing her first single, “In Too Deep.” Released eight months ago, the video has in excess of 120,000 view on YouTube and it has amassed almost 600,000 Spotify plays. For an unknown artist from a small country, that’s pretty much unheard of.
Bríet’s background in music is atypical for an electronic pop artist. She started playing guitar at 11, and the majority of her musical experience comes from being one half of a jazz duo. “I met this guy who saw me playing and we started playing together at restaurants, like dinner programmes,” Bríet explains. “That’s actually my favourite type of concert.”
Moving from small, intimate restaurants to the big stage was difficult. “The first time I ever stood on stage and was like ‘hi, I’m Bríet, and this is what I am writing,’ rather than playing some Billie Holiday song, I was at Sónar Reykjavík.” She laughs quietly at the absurdity of premiering her work at one of the biggest festivals in the country. “I was shaking backstage, like: ‘What am I doing here?’”
But if anyone was meant to be at Sónar, it’s Bríet. Her music has a polished self-assuredness way beyond most artists, regardless of age. She knows her sound in a way many young musicians don’t. Smooth and breathy, sultry but dancey, her music walks the line between mainstream pop, indie electronica and R&B in a way that’s completely authentic. No matter what your taste is, you can’t deny she’s got something.
“In Too Deep” is illustrative of this. While the lyrics are more-or-less typical for pop songs, her voice is so emotive that their simplicity crosses over from potentially cheesy to nakedly honest. “I was really in love at the time,” Bríet explains. “I wanted to do a love song about being happy, but then I got the idea of changing it: to start with a girl who is happy, but then has to go through the hard stuff of love.”
The single was enough to win her that coveted Sónar slot and a tonne of international attention, but playing Airwaves is still a big deal for Bríet—especially in 2018, the first gender-balanced edition of the festival. “I love that,” she smiles. “More and more girls are coming out playing and I am really excited to go out there and perform as a woman. That said, it’s sad that it’s happening now, when it could have happened so much sooner.”
Bríet is currently working on a new album, a follow up to the EP she released earlier this year, and she is taking on a variety of projects in the meantime. “Last night I played with one of the most famous Icelandic singers, Friðrik Dór, at his concert,” she says. “I’m so tired.” She laughs. “But it was amazing. It’s all been amazing.”
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