Sugar is the name for sweet tasting simple carbohydrates used for making food sweeter. SYKUR is the name for Iceland’s favorite electro-fab-party-techno-pop group. Now, the band’s fiery frontwoman Agnes Björt Andradóttir, and guitarist Kristján Eldjárn are ready to chat about the long-awaited release of SYKUR’s newest album ‘JÁTAKK’.
At the time of the interview, it’s early October and Christmas cookies have already hit the shelves. Unable to resist buying some Kristján munches on some gingerbread while musing on the upcoming release.
“This is our second attempt to make a third album. We started making LP3 a few years ago but we ended up scraping it and going straight to making our fourth album,” he says, smiling. “The third album only exists in the ether.” For reference, their second album ‘Mesópótamía’ was released in 2011. Eight years later, and they’re finally back with more, to which one can only say ‘JÁTAKK’ (which translates to ‘yes please’).
The album’s name, Agnes shares, is a private joke. “We have this inside joke between us where we try to say things in as few words as possible like ‘yesplease’,” she explains. “We say ‘bjórívas’ (beer in a pocket) really fast. It’s stupid, but it’s funny, like when you’re having a ‘hotdoginNorway’.”
The long pregnancy
With the SYKUR album release just around the corner there is some nostalgia in the air. “It feels like we have been pregnant for so long and we can’t carry it any longer so we’re pushing,” Agnes says. “We’re holding hands like ‘we have to get it out’. We’re on the final push.”
Kristján nods. “The funny thing is that nobody is really waiting for it,” he explains. “I think they stopped waiting in 2013.” Immediately, Agnes interjects, “Except for us”.
Laughing Kristján adds, “It’s an internal pressure—it’s been a tough pregnancy.”
Half of the songs on the new album have never been heard, but the oldest song on the album was played on stage first in 2012. “I feel like a mom and it’s time for the kids to leave home now,” she says, smiling. “Imagine: Some of the songs we have already performed a thousand times so it’s similar to giving birth to full grown teenagers.”
Getting to know the SYKUR kids
“The song ‘fucked up’ is our rebel teen,” Agnes continues. “The punk. She doesn’t smoke pot, she smokes Icelandic herbs.” Kristján adds, “Like njóli.” They chuckle and agree.
There’s also the ‘lost song,’ Agnes explains. “It’s like an 18-year-old young man who just recognised that it’s better to let your feelings out. Instead of being depressed with yourself, you can be depressed with others.”
Of course, there’s also a ‘jock,’ Kristján proposes the song ‘sumeret’ (working title) but Agnes disagrees, “When I listen to ‘sumeret’ I just think of elves. ‘strange loop’ is definitely the jock.”
Their favourite phrases on the album are in “kók í dós” (“coke in a can”). “Mine is ‘lúin hvarmaljós kók í dós’,” Kristján says. “It’s high brow Icelandic, juxtaposed with a can of coke, which is so mundane.”
“I would say my favorite phrase on the album is ‘kverkur kavaler,’” Agnes adds. Pronounced “kver-ger-cavalier”—try saying that out loud—it’s definitely a mouthful. Kristján laughs, “I don’t even know what that means.” Agnes smiles. “Me neither,” she says, then adds with gusto, “but it grabs hold of the spirit of the song”.
“Lyrics sound so weird when you speak them,” Kristján concludes. “Can we attach an mp3 to the paper?”
Currently, we are working on that invention at Grapevine, but for now you’ll have to wait until the release of the SYKUR album to hear these lyrics out loud.
Info: SYKUR releases ‘JÁTAKK’ on October 25th, eight years since their last album ‘Mesópótamía’ came out. Catch them at their 12th Iceland Airwaves appearance in November.
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