Borko, aka Björn Kristjánsson, is a compelling character. With his impressive, well-groomed beard and his intelligent eyes behind old-school glasses, he seems like a person that lives in a cabin far out in the wilderness. A resident of Reykjavík, he instead goes wild in his music, whether playing percussion with party-band FM Belfast, or keyboard and guitar with Skakkamanage—or with his very own indie-pop solo project Borko.
Or, you know… composing music for a theatre dance piece at the Reykjavík Arts Festival.
12 years of waiting
Borko’s newest release is the soundtrack for Bára Sigfúsdóttir’s dance piece “The Lover”, which revolves around the relationship between humans and nature. The two artists met for the first time around 12 years ago when Björn was asked to write music for a project by the first contemporary dance class at the Iceland Arts Academy, which Bára was a part of.
“In 2014, eight years later, Bára called me from Belgium and said that she had been waiting for a chance to get me on another project,” Björn remembers. “Now was the time. And that was ‘The Lover.’”
It was only when they met up at Bára’s art residency in Brussels that the project picked up momentum. “The first day we just sat there and talked for hours,” Björn says. “Then, the morning after, we started working and… it just happened.” Björn composed the music on his computer there and then, with Bára performing her dance movements right in front of him.
Four pieces were born, clocking in at 50 minutes of music. The sound is best described as slowly evolving, atmospheric and minimal; there’s no underlying pulse or beat, which gives the music space for movement. “You have to take time and get into the music to enjoy it,” says Björn. “You have to focus on it. You can also wander off with your mind and come back to it again, and then it’s not the same as it was before.”
Not a cocktail party
The creative duo also recorded vocal samples in the hallway of an old abbey which Björn consequently manipulated and put into the compositions. “It has electronic elements, some strings, some vocal samples,” Björn says. “It’s minimal in the way that it’s very repetitive and it always changes really, really slowly. If you listen for a minute it maybe doesn’t change at all but when you are six minutes into it, you all of a sudden notice that the texture has evolved from what you’d gotten used to.”
The listening party will be held on June 4th at the Reykjavík Arts Festival Hub and will be mainly focused on the music. The album “The Lover – Music For Dance” will be released the same day, with a limited physical release made available for collectors. “Maybe we’ll turn off the lights and let people sit in the darkness and just listen,” Björn finishes, smiling. “It’s not a cocktail party, it’s a listening party. I want to have it like that.”
Join the listening party at the Reykjavík Arts Festival Hub on June 4th at 9pm. See the accompanying dance piece at Tjarnarbíó on the 7th and 8th of June. Read about other events of the Reykjavik Arts Festival here.