From Iceland — Grapevine Music Awards 2020: One To Watch - Ra:tio

Grapevine Music Awards 2020: One To Watch – Ra:tio

Published January 14, 2020

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Magnús Andersen

Producers Bjarki Sigurðarson and Teitur Helgi Skúlason could best be described as low-key. In person, the duo—which works under the moniker Ra:tio—exemplifies the word “chill.” At first meeting, you’d never guess that every album the two have touched has blown up, and as they stand, they’re probably the most talked-about production team in the country. Calling them One To Watch even feels insufficient—so let’s revise that, they’re One To Follow.

Pure energy

The duo burst onto the scene in 2018 with their debut release, GDRN’s ‘Hvað ef.’ The album, which actually won the 2019 Grapevine Album Of The Year, was one of the biggest Icelandic releases that year—if not the biggest—and cemented GDRN as one of the foremost singers in the country.

Both Bjarki and Teitur are remarkably modest about their involvement. “It was funny because we didn’t have any expectations. We were both making our first records,” Teitur explains. “We had no idea what we were doing, but we had this critical voice in our heads, so we just chose the right types of songs that fit. It’s a weird energy—hopeful but not serious.”

Whatever that critical voice was, it worked, and from there, they moved onto a hugely popular collaboration with ClubDub. “ClubDub had this mentality straight from the start that as long as they had fun and we had fun in the studio, nothing else mattered,” Bjarki says. “That gave us freedom to try whatever we wanted,” Teitur adds. The two subsequently began to expand their sound into more club pop territory. “We shifted the focus. It was a fun period.”

This year, they released ‘energy’ by una schram, an R&B songstress and one of the most talked-about newbies on the Icelandic scene. “Una would come to us with written songs. She knew exactly how she wanted to sing the melody and had the lyrics done,” Teitur explains. Both artists were impressed by her professionalism. “I really admire her songwriting abilities,” Bjarki agrees. “She is so talented and promising. I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

“That’s always our end goal: To create something no one has ever heard before.”

Cohesive collaboration

The pair often seem more like brothers than creative partners. They exist on the same wavelength, anticipating each other’s stream of consciousness and often finishing each other’s thoughts. Perhaps it’s this cohesion that has allowed them to produce such seamless work.

“Bjarki is a big picture guy. He has a musical brain. He always knows what direction the song is supposed to go in.” Teitur says, when asked about their working style. “And he’s a fun guy to be around. He’s always in a good mood.”

At that, Bjarki smiles. “I mean, Teitur is just my best friend,” he responds, simply. “We connect on the fact that we’re both really big perfectionists. Everything has to be right, but we complement each other’s weaknesses. We always try and find what could go better in demos of beats. He’s also super creative and can always resolve an issue. And again, like I said before, he’s an all-around great guy and my best friend.”

Teitur returns his smile. “Thanks.”

The end goal

In 2020, the duo plans to expand their horizons. “We’re not working on one album. We’re doing sessions with a lot more artists,” Bjarki explains. “Making one song with each—trying to spread out a little more. It’s been fun because we’ve always been focused on one project for many months, but now we’re meeting new people everyday.”

Teitur nods, adding, “we’re just trying to explore more and develop our sound into something new. That’s always our end goal: To create something no one has ever heard before.”

Listen to them on Spotify.

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