From Iceland — ‘Figure’ Skating: Vök Test The Waters

‘Figure’ Skating: Vök Test The Waters

Published May 15, 2017

‘Figure’ Skating: Vök Test The Waters
Steindór Grétar Jónsson
Photo by
Sigga Ella

What does a dream-pop band from Hafnarfjörður do to celebrate the release of their new album? “We went rollerblading!” says Einar Stef, the drummer and newest member of Vök, whose LP ‘Figure’ was released on April 28.

“It was our day off on the tour,” Einar continues, video-chatting with the Grapevine from the band’s tour bus in Poznan, Poland. “We went to a square in Berlin and rollerbladed for a few hours. It was the first time I’ve done it since I was eight. It’s a relief nobody got injured—it would’ve been a shame to cancel the tour because someone broke a leg.”

Vök—whose name translates roughly as “hole in the ice”—rose to prominence in 2013, following the annual battle of the bands Músíktilraunir, where their ethereal sound won them first place. Founded by singer Margrét Rán and saxophonist Andri Már, they soon added guitarist Ólafur Alexander, releasing a couple of EPs before sound engineer and drummer Einar joined full time. “I got more and more involved in the creative process,” says Einar, “so it was a comfortable transition into full band member.”

Self-conscious crowds

When we speak, the band are midway through a European tour through Amsterdam, Central Europe, France, and the UK. The band feel particularly welcome in Poland, where their shows are often sold out. “It feels surreal,” says Einar. “After our first show here we stayed behind for an hour, chatting to people and signing merch. We’re not a big-name band, so we’re very grateful for this kind of reception. People are passionate.”

Vök will play at Gamla Bíó on June 8, presenting their album in Iceland for the first time. “Sometimes it feels like you’re always playing to the same crowd in Reykjavík,” Einar explains. “When you know most of the audience, they can be a bit stiff—it’s not often that you see people just letting loose, dancing, or even crying, like at the Poland shows. One girl bawled her eyes out when we played our last song.”

The boat that rocked

For the new album, Vök enlisted the help of producer Brett Cox, who helped redefine their sound to some extent. “It’s a new approach,” says Einar of ‘Figure’. “We recorded acoustic drums, which Vök hasn’t really done before. It was difficult at first—people thought it was strange—but eventually it became a big part of the record’s sound. We did field recordings to round it out, add colour, and build a certain atmosphere.”

“The studio was on a boat. Andri gets a little seasick—when the tide came in he had to escape onto the shore.”

In February they signed a record deal with Nettwerk, following discussions with a number of labels. “We liked Nettwerk and heard good things,” says Einar. “They’re enthusiastic about music and feel like honest, good people. I don’t wanna generalise, but there are a lot of sharks in this business, so it’s nice to work with genuine people.”

Some of the recording took place on a converted boat on the Thames. “Rent is too high in London so nobody can afford operating a studio,” explains Einar. “Someone got the idea to buy a boat to house a studio, because the docking fees are more manageable. Andri, the saxaphone player, gets a little seasick, so every time the tide came in he had to escape onto the shore. He was relieved when we continued our sessions in Reykjavík.”

Get the album here.

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