From Iceland — Meet Cell7’s Epic Alter Ego

Meet Cell7’s Epic Alter Ego

Published March 8, 2024

Meet Cell7’s Epic Alter Ego
Photo by
Supplied by Cell7

Innovative and rebellious, Ragna Kjartansdóttir is a legendary figure of the Icelandic hip hop and rap scene. The artist known as Cell7 continues to cut her own path with the release of “U-N-I”. It’s an enticing track that finds the artist trading in rapping for singing. Accompanying the single is a music video starring a “metahuman” alter ego of Cell7, brought to life using Epic’s Unreal Engine.

Created in collaboration with Johann Reynisson, using tech notably employed recently by Barbie and The Mandalorian, Cell7’s “metahuman” is a mesmerising (and slightly haunting) eyebrow-less, majorly-freckled persona that holds the viewers gaze for the duration of the video and refuses to break it.

For the love of tech

Though together for 2.5 years, “U-N-I” marks the pair’s first formal collaboration, as well as an opportunity for them to incorporate their “day jobs” into a joint endeavour. Johann brings experience from his career in the gaming industry and computer graphics, while Ragna brings her expertise in music and performance.

“We are happy to be doing this with the resources we have,” Ragna says, adding, “it doesn’t need to cost half a million [krónur] for a video.” They laugh as they elaborate on the fun process of tweaking the video in real time at home, while Johann notes that “things that used to take days and weeks are now done on an app on your phone.”

In addition to the excitement around the video, Ragna is excited to break this new technology in to the Icelandic music scene. Bringing up this newness of it all, the two address the elephant in the room: “Of course, now if people see anything I think the tendency is to always think, ‘oh it’s some new AI thing,’ like it is just a buzzword. A lot of new visual things [are put] into an AI category,” Ragna articulates. “I feel like there is a certain hesitation with regards to technology and probably a fear of everything looking the same.”

Johann notes that the announcement about OpenAI’s new text-to-video model “Sora” came the same day of their video release. The tech is opening many new doors, while sparking endless debates surrounding the use of AI in visual media.

But is it Cell7?

Ragna acknowledges that the new video and song are a departure from her previous musical output. “We’re like ‘is this Cell7? I don’t know,’” she ponders before continuing excitedly, “and then we’re like ‘fuck it, yeah of course!’ I’m multi-layered, so why the hell not!’”

“Cell7 is ever-evolving, doing whatever I think is cool,” she says.

“U-N-I” isn’t the beginning and end of Cell7’s flirtation with technology. A peek at a forthcoming video reveals another digital rendering of Ragna that is equally as entrancing.

“The uncanny valley moments can be there,” Johann acknowledges, “that’s up to anyone to decide.” So, go decide.

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