Sóley Stefánsdóttir first came to my attention playing with the rather marvellous bands of Mr Sindri Már Sigfússon - Seabear, Sin Fang Bous and then plain old Sin Fang. Presumably she got fed up of not being in other bands - I believe the other members of Sindri's line-ups also turned up in bands such as Kimono, Mr Silla and Skakkamanage. We're really glad she did - her solo records are beguilingly different and totally absorbing. Her debut E.P. from 2010, Theater Island, contained six minimal and dreamy tunes highlighted by the amazing "We Will Put Her In Two Graves". That was promise was followed up and exceeded by her full length debut We Sink earlier this year. It's an album of fragility and beauty. It's been described as a soundtrack to Alice In Wonderland and certainly manages to sound innocent but also dark and threatening. It's a gem.
The exciting news for me and other Londoners is that she is coming to play at the very excellent monthly Scandinavian (and Icelandic) showcase night JaJaJa next week, Thursday November 24th at The Lexington. Music lovers should get down there. I was really excited to have a quick chat with Sóley before her very hectic sounding 24 hours in London. So hit play on the track below from the new album and have a read of what she had to say...
Congratulations on all of your great reviews at Iceland Airwaves! You seemed to be playing shows almost constantly, how many did you play in total and did you have a favourite?
Thank you. I played my stuff six times and with Sin Fang twice so yes I played a lot of shows, lot of fun and stress but I have to say that I really liked the on venue show at Kaldalón in Harpa on the Wednesday night, it was full of people and I heard there was a big queue outside the door which was really surprising! I also secretly like the surprise show I did on Friday night at Tjarnabíó. I was asked with one days notice so there was no time to announce it clearly so when I came on stage I think there were like three Australian people in the crowd and they "wooo-ed" a lot and made me feel very comfortable because when I went on stage and I saw no one, because it was all black in there, I got a bit pissed off thinking why I was doing this other show because no one knew I was playing. Anyway, in the end I was not stressed at all, I mean I have never ever been as calm as then and after a few songs the crowd grew and in the end I was pretty happy that I did this "secret sóley show!"
And did you manage to enjoy any of the rest of the festival? What bands did you see that were great?
Well it´s hard to enjoy the festival and be playing that much. For example I was playing with Sin Fang at the same time as Beach House was playing and I would have loved to see them. But I saw Tune-Yards. She was awesome, I loved her show!
How important is Airwaves to you as an artist?
It´s one of these showcase festivals which means a lot of journalists and other people who maybe work at festivals etc come to your show and I was for example invited to play at Eurosonic in Holland and ByLarm in Norway which are both festivals like Airwaves. I think I was also invited to play at jajaja after someone saw me at airwaves, I'm not sure though!
It´s also most important for people who are there for the music. Now I´ll stop talking business! I mean music lovers travel a long way to come and spend money on flight tickets and staying and living in Iceland for a week. I mean in the end it´s all for them. It´s a good opportunity for Icelandic bands to get known outside iceland without leaving the country!
How do you compare playing your own shows to the shows you play as part of Sindri's band?
Since September we have only been two in my band. So it's very simple but still very tense at times because it´s almost only voice, keys with effects, loops and some weird sounds. So if I´m nervous, hell you are going to hear it! I have nothing kind of to back me up. Not a big band at the back of me so my act is a bit naked while Sin Fang is more like a real pop band with five members and everyone playing together. It´s just different.
Are you looking forward to your show in London? How long are you in our little town for?
Yes I´m really looking forward to it. Me and the drummer are going to stay in good old London for 24 hours! It´s almost like having a meeting. we are going to a business trip to London!
I find that your songs have a very literary air, and I've read more than one journalist make the comparison with Alice In Wonderland. Do you have a favourite book or author? And has that been an influence on your lyrics?
Yes for inspiration I read a lot of poems, in Icelandic. my favorite poet´s name is Davíð Stefánsson and he wrote these beautifully dark poems about death and love that can never be. Since I was little I loved Edward Scissorhands, it was so scary when I watched as a small girl, so i like Tim Burton and if he would call me and ask me to make music to his new movie I would quit everything else, move to Hofsós, a small town in the North of Iceland, have only a piano, candles, banana bread and espresso machine and start composing.