From Iceland — Grapevine Music Awards 2020: You Should Have Heard This - K.óla

Grapevine Music Awards 2020: You Should Have Heard This – K.óla

Published January 14, 2020

Photo by
Magnús Andersen

Katrín Helga Ólafsdóttir has a natural flair. Her ineffable style and irrefutable talents traverse a vast array of influences to create an intriguing amalgamation of structures, instrumentations and tones, with candid and perceptive lyrics at their foundation. Already an underground icon as the lead singer of dream-punk band Milkhouse, Katrín wanted to explore new territories with her solo project, and it seemed only natural to extend her short-hand artist signature as a moniker for her music: K.óla.

Water glasses & languages

From playing water glasses to composing for strings, Katrín is known for her exploratory approach to music, although her composition studies at the Iceland University of the Arts don’t necessarily confine her to traditional methods.

“It’s interesting to know how to do a lot of stuff, even if you don’t use it every day,” she explains. “It’s like learning a language and never speaking it, but you still know it. It can help you sometimes when you need it—if you’re lost and need directions.”

Creative K.óla politics

K.óla’s most recent record, ‘Allt verður alltílæ’, showcases this experimental pop prowess. The album is a heartfelt, catchy, seven song melange of genres that took the Icelandic indie scene by storm in 2019, culminating in K.óla winning a Kraumur award at the end of the year.

Picking up where her album left off, her new single, ‘Plastprinsessan vaknar’, is a slow-burning ballad encompassed with sustained bells and strings, poised to explore the negative spectrum of human impact and emotion as ‘the plastic princess awakens.’

“It’s nice to think ‘this is fun, I’m going to do it.’ I want to do more of that: follow the fun.”

“I think it’s more political… the lyrics of being a plastic princess,” Katrín reflects. “It’s from the perspective of feeling like a super-villain by being a human because we’re destroying everything around us, and you can’t do anything but take part in it.”

It’s a serious topic, but one that Katrín hopes to keep entertaining. “I think you can tell the most important stuff with humour. People will listen more if they’re laughing,” she continues. “What I want to do in the future, I guess it’s a mixture of both being silly and still having a point.”

Follow the fun

Despite achieving one goal after another, and having a new K.óla album on the horizon, Katrín is hard on herself, and her thoughts often veer to the self-critical.

“Just when I’m finishing [something]—in the final 10 metres of the marathon—I start to doubt everything and think ‘Why should I release this? Is this good enough? Why was I doing this?’” she explains. “It is weird to be making this new album that is very different, and the only thing I can do is just hope people will like it because it’s not what they would expect.”

To navigate these challenges and find her confidence, Katrín focuses on having fun. “There are so many pressures from being in school or being in a group of friends,” she says. “Everybody is doing this and that and you kind of feel like you have to be able to do it. It’s nice to think ‘this is fun, I’m going to do it.’ I really want to do more of that: follow the fun.”

Here’s K.óla talking about her latest album and playing with Björk. Follow K.óla on Facebook and listen to her album on Bandcamp.

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