From Iceland — Music Raised To The Power Of Three: Salóme Katrín, ZAAR and RAKEL

Music Raised To The Power Of Three: Salóme Katrín, ZAAR and RAKEL

Published March 8, 2022

Music Raised To The Power Of Three: Salóme Katrín, ZAAR and RAKEL
John Pearson
Photo by
Kaja Sigvalda

“It’s a grapefruit, actually,” Rakel Sigurðardóttir gently points out as we discuss a papier-mâché sculpture of a citrus fruit. To be fair it does look rather like a blood orange but, despite the name of the paper, becoming a Grapevine journalist doesn’t involve a test in fruit identification.

“There’s some sort of magic awesomeness. The power of three—us three. It’s just perfect!”

It turns out the piece— by Auður Lóa Guðnadóttir—is called ‘Three Ways To Cut A Grapefruit’. (If only there had been a clue in the name!) A photo of it adorns the cover of the album ‘While We Wait’, recently released by Reykjavík musicians Rakel, Sara Flindt (aka ZAAR) and Salóme Katrín Magnúsdóttir.

Salóme Katrín picks up the fruity theme: “The grapefruit symbolises many things, and has this feminine energy to it. And the sculpture has these three little peels next to the grapefruit; that’s the three of us. There’s some sort of magic awesomeness. The power of three—us three. It’s just perfect!”

Auður Lóa Guðnadóttir’s sculpture ‘Three Ways To Cut A Grapefruit’

Seven segments

This zesty trio have poured their collective feminine energy into this album, which features a pair of tracks from each of them along with a three-handed collaboration. “We had no idea what we were going into,” Sara says of the album recording process. “We just knew we wanted to make a record together, and we wanted to have two songs each.”

The seven songs, while spanning a range of styles, sit well together as a coherent listen across the album. That’s not necessarily a given in this kind of project, and the trio put it down to the musical and personal bonds they instantly formed when they met at Reykjavík’s FÍH music school.

“Yeah we’ve all played in each other’s projects, so we’re in tune in that way. We spend a lot of time together musically,” says Rakel. “Also we work together a lot,” she adds, referring to their decision to self-manage the record’s release. “I think that probably does have an effect.”

Ten points if you can hit photographer Kaja Sigvalda with a grapefruit

Pandemic project

A major influence on the album has been—predictably in these times—the pandemic. In fact, the idea for the project was sparked by a live stream back in the locked-down times of October 2020 when gigging in Iceland was virtually impossible—except, of course, virtually. The three friends set up in the venue Mengi, with no audience, and broadcast themselves online each playing their own compositions but also collaborating on other material.

Sara reflects: “I was just thinking, ‘Why did we do that again?’ And I remember now that we were craving to play a concert. We hadn’t played for a year, and I guess we just looked at each other and said ‘We need to do something together.'”

World tour (Denmark not included)

The album was released on the 25th of February, the same day on which all domestic and border pandemic restrictions were swept away in Iceland. So a project born of anti-contagion measures came to fruition on the day that those measures were rescinded. Also on that day, Iceland suffered its record high in confirmed COVID infections since the pandemic began.

Easter is drawing closer and now we have Icelandic Easter eggs in stock!

But the policy change has made it easier for Salóme Katrín, Sara and Rakel to take the album out on the road, and scratch that live performance itch. This month they play Akureyri, where Rakel grew up, and Ísafjörður, Salóme Katrín’s old stomping ground, before a final date at Reykjavík’s Fríkirkjan. So they’re not popping over to Denmark to play Sara’s hometown of Silkeborg? “Well thankfully we did receive some grants to make this record, but unfortunately they don’t cover flying us all to Denmark,” Salóme Katrín laughs.

Not having a label behind you can be difficult. But as these self-described “three little peels” learn to manage their own creative business, the feminine power represented by Auður’s grapefruit is made real. They have created some remarkable music together, and are now becoming well-versed in taking it out into the world independently.

“And we’re experts on fruit,” Rakel reiterates, just in case anyone had forgotten.

The trio will play at Fríkirkjan in Reykjavík on March 25th. ‘While We Wait’ is available now on the usual streaming services, and the vinyl version will be available from mid-March.

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