From Iceland — Back Into The Spotlight With Lily The Kid

Back Into The Spotlight With Lily The Kid

Published November 6, 2014

This isn’t the first time that siblings Hallur Jónsson and Lilja K. Jónsdóttir play Iceland Airwaves, they are in fact veritable Airwaves veterans through their work with electro mainstays Bloodgroup. Lilja has split off from Bloodgroup and created Lily the Kid with Hallur which is making its maiden voyage to the festival. Lily the Kid has received a lot of attention for its first single, “Pedro,” and those in the know expect good things to come. We caught up with the fledgling group over email and they had a few interesting things to say about working together as siblings, Billy the Kid and the Icelandic police.

You guys were a part of the successful electro pop band Bloodgroup. What lessons did you learn from that endeavour, and how much of the Bloodgroup vibe is still alive in Lily the Kid?
Well, we learned pretty much everything we know about the music business from being in Bloodgroup. The themes in Lilja’s song writing are of course similar, really personal and passionate. The soundscape is very different, although we do like our thumping sub-bass sounds, sidechain and nice hard kicks. Lily the Kid is more dramatic, more fragile and refined.

What is it like working together as siblings? Have you always been close? In what way is it different from working with your friends?
We have always been very close. There’s a pretty big age difference between us, but we became best friends right around the time Bloodgroup started up. We have a lot of things in common genetically, socially and spiritually, so working together is very comfortable for us.

Working with your siblings is probably not that different from working with your friends, especially when you’ve worked together as long as we have. There was this motivation in both of us to collaborate because we are musically inclined and siblings. Although we sometimes get a bit lost in talking about family matters in the studio, in the end it’s always about the music and creating something good together.

What’s it like releasing your second song, “Breathe,” after seeing “Pedro” do so well on the charts? Were you nervous it wouldn’t be received as well?
No, we wouldn’t say nervous. It’s always a weird feeling letting go of your songs and releasing them out into the world, but we were very proud of “Breathe” and we felt ready to release it. A lot of work went into that song.

The fact that “Pedro” did so well on that charts was awesome, and helped us get our name out there, so we can do what matters the most to us: making music and playing it for people. “Breathe” is probably less “radio-friendly” than “Pedro” as well, and that’s fine.

How many people have called you out on the Billy the Kid reference? Do you believe he was a folk hero, a ruthless outlaw, or a bit of both?
Actually no one has called us out on that one yet! We are waiting patiently. But was he a hero or an outlaw, we have no idea. He was like 21 when he was killed, or so the internet says. Most people are still teenagers at 21. Maybe he was just a kid who didn’t know better. Maybe 19th century peer pressure made him what he was?

What can we expect from your upcoming album? When will it be released, and will you strike cowboy outlaw poses on the cover?
You can expect a lot of beautiful, powerful sounds. That’s the way we work when we write music. We work with beautiful sounds from synthesizers, guitars and drum machines, and they inspire our writing and production. We are also very excited about working with all kinds of interesting elements, vocal chops and off-beat percussion. The Billy the Kid pose… I think we’re good. Having said that, we hear the Icelandic police just got a batch of nice, brand new guns we could borrow for a photo shoot like that…

During live performances, are your effects live, on playback, or a mixture of the two?
You could say it’s a mixture of both. Hallur will control some of the effects, some vocal effects will be played live on pads and stuff. We have some truly great musicians in our band, drummer Doddi (Þorvaldur Þór Þorvaldsson—seriously one of Iceland’s very best drummers), guitarist Kári Einarsson (of Oyama) and backing vocals from Sunna Þórisdóttir (of Bloodgroup).

What other acts are you stoked to see at this year’s Airwaves?
The Knife is at the top of our list. They are legends in our lives. But we also can’t wait to see Zebra Katz, Jungle, Perfect Pussy and Oyama. We have three shows this year so we are unfortunately going to miss a lot of great acts, but the best stuff you see at Airwaves is usually something you didn’t expect to see. We hope for some nice surprises this year.

Update: After the interview, Lily the Kid released an EP, online for free. You can download ‘Mainland’ from, a new Icelandic music website.

You can catch Lily the Kid on the following dates:    

November 7: Slippbarinn (off-venue) at 17:45
November 8: Gamla Bíó at 20:00
November 9: Húrra at 22:00

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