The Dymbrá girls seem right at home posing on the grassy field and between the trees beside Ásmundarsalur, smartly clad in matching outfits of sleek cobalt fabric of the sort that they often make when performing or appearing as a group. Made up of Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð schoolmates Eir Ólafsdóttir on cello, Nína Sólveig Andersen on violin, and Eyrún Úa Þorbjörnsdóttir on flute, the teen trio recently released an eponymous debut album consisting of elegant, ethereal instrumentals with occasional hauntingly beautiful Icelandic vocals. “We wanted to create a feeling and an atmosphere based on what we feel inside more so than specific words or messages of ours,” Nína explains.
The kind of darkness that hugs you
Nína, Eyrún and Eir characterize their musical inspirations and influences as mainly sentimental and intuitive in nature. “A lot of the music is inspired by feelings we felt at times of great change,” Eyrún explains. “We wrote [it] when we were finishing grunnskóli and Eir was moving to Spain for a year.”
Eir comes up with the apt characterisation of “experimental modern classic, tranquil, mystical, a bit dark” to describe Dymbrá’s music to the uninitiated. “But not depressing darkness,” she clarifies with a chuckle; “content darkness, the kind of darkness that hugs you.”
“I would also say that it highlights the difference between darkness and light,” Nína adds.
“When you’re a teenager, everything seems so big and important, but even just a few months later you laugh at yourself for having been so dramatic,” adds Eir, in a gentle Irish brogue, which she explains she acquired from an Irish neighbor during her exchange in Spain. “Which is why we chose not to have the vocals as the main part of the song,” Eyrún continues. Eir nods. “People can relate to the feeling without necessarily needing to put words to what was going on in our heads,” she posits in agreement.
The album’s second song “Dulbrá” is a comprehensive example of this. Beginning with flourishes of piano, it transitions into a section of harmonious vocals articulated almost in a gentle whisper. After a moment of slight musical clash, the piano combines with rich cello and finishes on an elegant violin high note. Airy and multilayered, the song is very much true to Dymbrá’s other-worldly sound.
From Músíktilraunir to the big time
Though Dymbrá’s release concert at the National Gallery on June 20th was certainly a big and exciting event, the girls have quickly become experienced performers. They made it to the finals of the Icelandic Music Experiments (Músíktilraunir) contest and they were originally set to participate in this year’s competition, but it was delayed due to the pandemic.
“We’re writing new songs, we want to move further and try something a bit different,” comments Nína in regards to their upcoming goals and plans. “All the songs on our debut album were written two years ago; as we’ve gotten better at playing our respective instruments and our voices have matured a bit, the new ones are bound to be a bit different,” Eyrún and Eir chime in together. A goal of theirs would be to have their music featured in film soundtracks in the future.
“We don’t need to do something new just for the sake of developing a sound that people will recognize as ours,” Eyrún and Eir conclude. “We just try new things that we like so we can change things up while still staying true to ourselves and our musical roots.”
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