The title of una schram’s new EP, “mess mixtape,” perfectly describes the collection of emotions the 22-year-old sings about. Half break-up album and half soul-searching coming-of-age revelations, una lets us in on her emotional journey. Iceland’s own Amy Winehouse-inspired pop R&B artist may have just released the musical version of emotional empowerment we always needed.
Hard break-ups, good music
Reeling from her first major heartbreak, una dealt with her emotions in the only way she knew how: songwriting. Starting at only 10 years old, una has been writing music for the greater part of her life. Always performing and singing, it seems natural that the easiest way for her to deal with emotional pain is through song.
“I always had fun with it. It was also a way for me to express what I was feeling, which I think a lot of musicians can relate to,” una shares. “Some people just have a way of being able to put their feelings into words that rhyme.”
Fortunately for us, una has that talent. In “mess mixtape” she weaves a tapestry of emotion that carefully explores young heartbreak and finding yourself. In doing so, una manages to pinpoint these common and deeply human experiences, articulating them with refreshing accuracy.
Between studies at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute, the pandemic, personal life, and the process of songwriting, the album took three years for una to finish. Even though heartbreak and moving on are timeless topics, una can tell she has progressed from this period in her life.
“It’s quite interesting for me to be releasing it now,” una says, adding, “all of the situationships and feelings are long gone, so it’s weird that now I’m getting out all of these feelings that I’d kind of forgotten I’d had. I’m trying to relate back to my old self to release this project.”
The stark difference in personality between “pre-mess una” and “post-mess una” almost prevented her from releasing the work. She was worried about the public’s reaction to her personality, fearing that people would conflate the emotions in songs with her present self.
“It’s sometimes very difficult when you release music because it’s so personal. I feel like when you let people in like that they will make assumptions and have opinions about you, which are not necessarily an accurate representation of where my head is at now,” una shares, explaining her understanding of her personal growth.
“There was also sort of a battle with myself whether or not to release the project,” she adds. “I was a little bit afraid that it would come across juvenile or adolescent because it’s a younger me that’s being represented in this mixtape. But I have a lot of love for my past self, so I thought, ‘fine, I can let people just take it where they want it, I have no control over what people think anyway.’”
We’re all the same
Ultimately, una realised that while she may no longer be in the same emotional place as she was three years ago when she first started writing “mess mixtape,” the emotions she felt at the time are shared by everyone.
“I don’t necessarily relate to the lyrics that I wrote anymore, but some [people] will because we all have these very similar experiences when it comes to relationships and love,” una says, thoughtfully.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to give yourself away [to someone], but you also need to put yourself first,” she continues. “I hope [people] relate, but more on a level that is in hindsight. They listen and think of situations they’ve had that are kind of similar, where they’ve also come out of it with a different outlook and more control.”
The road ahead
Back living in Reykjavík with a BA under her belt, una clearly has a long and invigorating road ahead of her. She’s hoping to experiment more with her music, including potential songs in Icelandic, genre shifts, and untraditional vocal techniques. If “mess mixtape” is any indicator of the future, we are dying to hear the next musical emotional journey una has in store for us.
“I’m very excited to just explore my musical identity, I guess, and see where I can go,” una finishes hopefully.
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