A Dark Enigma: GYÐA Steps Forward With ‘Evolution’ - The Reykjavik Grapevine

A Dark Enigma: GYÐA Steps Forward With ‘Evolution’

A Dark Enigma: GYÐA Steps Forward With ‘Evolution’

Published November 7, 2018

Alice Demurtas
Main photo by
Art Bicnick

There’s always a certain allure to exploring all that is dark and mysterious, and even more so when the unknown darkness holds in its shroud the promise of pure beauty. That’s Gyða Valtýsdóttir for you: a dark enigma moving through space and sound with elegant intuition. 

Known for her ethereal voice and experimental ventures with Icelandic phenomenon múm, Gyða has been diving deeper into unknown waters as a solo musician for quite some time now. She’s taken part in various collaborations and, in 2017, released her first solo collection: ‘Epicycle,’ a series of her favourite composed pieces from throughout history—fragments of her musical life—reworked, and sewn together into an album.

With her latest venture, she instead embarks on a different journey, mostly on her own. ‘Evolution’ is both subtle and honest—but most importantly, it’s pure Gyða. 

Finding guidance

“The soul of the record came from writing one of the songs: ‘Í Annarri Vídd,’” Gyða explains. “I felt a very strong voice outside of me when I wrote that song and surrendering to it; following its guidance became the inspiration. I had never felt such presence before.”

But if that presence was the spark that lit the fire of ‘Evolution,’ the rest of the album followed organically, forming a process whose sole certain reference point was its beginning. “I didn’t know where this album was going, but I think there is definitely a lot of guidance whether you call it your higher self, or your subconscious mind,” Gyða says. “I think that energy is inside all of us.”

The beauty of imperfections

In all these open possibilities, Gyða found true freedom. She also allowed herself to step away from striving towards absolute perfection—a habit that, Gyða admits, is inherent in those with classical training. “You can’t expect to put pressure on a creation to be a masterpiece,” she says. “I had waited so long for this, so to me, making this record felt like unconditional love. It felt right for me at the time. Even the name of the album comes from that: I knew this was a process I had to go through. I had to let go of the perfection that doesn’t allow anything to be born””

Beyond the cello

The result is a passionate cry for freedom, as Gyða’s voice dances around the intricate web of melodies woven by the unmistakable sound of her cello. “I was seven years old when my older sister suggested I play the cello,” Gyða whispers. “I remember her saying that it was dark and mysterious and those two words really resonated with me.” She chuckles, amused by her younger self.

Years later, the cello has become not only her faithful companion but is also synonymous with her music. Gyða’s darkness, her elegance, her frailty, her dreaminess—it’s all there, carefully locked between the melodies of ‘Evolution’ like a precious bird waiting to take flight. 

“I’m very fortunate that I chose the cello and stuck to it. I feel like I can generate so many things with it,” she finishes. “For example, if I’m scoring movies. But it goes a little beyond cello playing.” She pauses, suddenly pensive. “It’s my voice.”

‘Evolution’ is out now on Figureight. See GYÐA live at Iceland Airwaves 2018.

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