From Iceland — Deeper Than Definitions

Deeper Than Definitions

Published August 11, 2023

Deeper Than Definitions
Photo by
Art Bicnick


Una Torfa talks national tour, queer culture and writing for Reykjavík Pride


Insurance companies are uncommon patrons of musicians – the two don’t make a logical pair. However, for Una Torfa, it was the only logistical way she could execute her longstanding dream of touring Iceland. The artist, accompanied by her performing band, recently finished a seven-day concert series along Iceland’s ring road, “with the support of Vís,” she specifies. 

“I think it’s priceless that people who have that kind of money use it to support the arts,” Una says about the insurance company’s association with the tour. She didn’t get the feeling that the financial support interfered with the performances in any way. The only tangible effect it had on Una was the company’s logo being plastered on the tour van. It also allowed her to keep ticket prices low. 

Photo by Art Bicnick

A barbecue grill in the back

“It went surprisingly well,” Una says of her first national tour. She credits her booking agent for organising the tour down to the tiniest detail, making sure Una and her performing band always had a bed to sleep in each night. “My booker provided us with itineraries almost down to the minute,” she says. “We managed to eliminate all uncertainty, which adds a lot of unnecessary stress on ventures like these.” 

Una’s performing band is close-knit, counting the singer’s partner, Hafsteinn Þráinsson (aka CeaseTone), and brother, Tumi Torfason, as members. Drummer Sólrún Mjöll Kjartansdóttir and sound engineer Þóroddur Ingvarsson rounded out the travelling quintet.  

“What matters is being able to get through life and experience the whole range of emotions – to love and be loved.”

“We did all the loading of the gear every day. So it was like playing Tetris in the trunk,” says Una. “It was like travelling with your best friends.”  

A quintessential barbecue was brought along to really perfect the outing. “It was a ridiculous idea. We travelled with the grill the whole way, but didn’t actually use it until the very last day,” Una reminisces.

Writing for Reykjavík Pride

In addition to having finished a seven-day tour, Una was asked by Pride’s organisation team to write the official song for the festival. The song, “Þú ert stormur,” was written by Una and Hafsteinn. 

The artist says the song’s message revolves around the pressure queer people face in defining themselves. “I had a hard time writing this song. I found it difficult to bridge writing openly about queerness, without using cliches or forced melodrama,” Una admits.

“I’m bisexual and use the lyrics to question the idea that queer people need to define themselves, or need to know exactly who they are,” she says. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is being able to get through life and experience the whole range of emotions – to love and be loved.” 

Photo by Art Bicnick

While Una celebrates the ubiquitousness of pleather, glitter and disco in queer culture, she underscores that “being queer is also just a natural state of affairs. And I wanted to explore the feeling of being yourself – that you don’t need to be a glitter bomb, full of happiness. I found that exciting.” 

“We did all the loading of the gear every day. So it was like playing Tetris in the trunk.”

Una is currently working on another record with Hafsteinn. “I am very lyrically focused, and concentrate not only on the words I sing but also the music’s subtext, and how the words tie into the music itself.” The forthcoming LP will feature new songs, as well as a few written before Una’s latest EP, Flækt og týnd og einmana. 

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