Sóley is a passionate piano player and singer whom you ma knowy best as a member of indie-collective Seabear. But she has recently been emerging as a solo artist in her own write. In 2010 she released her solo-debut "Theater Island" - a pop record that sounded like a dream: sweet and weird all at the same time. Now she is about to release her full length album, "We Sin"k, via Morr Music -- an album "full of rhythmic makeshift creatures and handclaps hidden in the undergrowth -- think cardigan-folk from the northern hemisphere, an ocean of stained glasses bopping up and down in the shared apartment’s dishwater, leeward in limbo."
Sóley's a really pretty name: what does it mean?
In Iceland we have a beautiful wild yellow flower that grows all around Iceland. The name is Sóley. I think that´s where it comes from. They grow many together so when you travel around the country you can these big “islands” of Sóley. Sól means the sun and ey means island.
So what are your earliest musical memories?
I guess some memories from a brass band concert in which my dad was playing. When I was four years old I was interviewed and asked what kind of instrument I would like to choose to study. I said I wanted to play trombone because then I would be able to play in parades and wear beautiful costumes. Years later I was there, playing cymbals in a purple costume feeling ashamed because all my schoolmates were there laughing at me. Kids are so mean!
Is your family typically Icelandic in that the majority of them dabble in music? Any famous parents or cousins?
Well my father is a trombone player and a music teacher. That’s why me (and my brother and sister) are playing music. My mom doesn´t play any instruments but she shows up at almost every gig I play in Iceland. My cousin Egill Ólafur Thorarensen aka Tiny was part of the Icelandic rap band Quarashi.
You studied piano, right?
Yes, since I was eight years old. I started in classical education, which I got bored of when I became a teenager. But I kept on going, playing piano and also started in a brass band. There I played percussion and that was fun! Soon after that I tried out some jazz piano and I like that a lot more. More improvisation and you're more “free”. I have never been to a singing class, but it´s on my to do list.
What bands were you in before Seabear?
Apart from some brass bands and big bands I was in a band called Barbarella. I was probably around eighteen. We were four girls and one boy. I played guitar and keys. We made some weird pop music. I was also in a band called Strakovsky Horo, a Balkan band. In Strakovsky Horo I played accordion. We were ten best friends who were all in the same music school and played some crazy Balkan/eastern Europe music. I think we were legends!
How did you come to meet Sindri and join Seabear?
I knew Örn Ingi, the guitar player in Seabear because we are from the same town, Hafnarfjörður. I think Guggý (violin player) was not in iceland and they needed a substitute so Örn Ingi called me and asked if I could play accordion with them. So I did that and after two concerts I was asked If I wanted to join them. I didn´t know any of them at all apart from Örn Ingi a little bit.
Was Theater Island your first solo release? How was the process of getting it together?
Theater Island was my first solo release. The process was very fast. Thomas Morr (head of Morr Music) sent me e-mail and asked if I had some songs to send him. I had been recording something so I sent that and a few months later my first EP was out. Didn´t even have time to think!
Was going solo always something you wanted to do, or did the idea ambush you one day in the shower?
Like I said, It all went so fast. Before I got this e-mail and when I was touring with Seabear I didn´t really think about it. So it kind of happened somehow…
We Sink - an interesting title for the new album. Can you explain?
It´s from the lyrics on the song "I´ll drown". It´s hard to explain. The only thing I can say is that it´s about a girl and a weird old man who lives in a house. Suddenly the house is filling up with water, they can´t run away because the house holds them (and laughs) so they sink, together. Very “does not make sense” romantic.
What did you want to achieve on this debut album, from a musical perspective?
My own sound, my own world, my own lyrics that no one understands but me. I think what is most important is to make your own artistic world. Go somewhere that doesn´t exist and be someone that you make up on your own. Then you can hope that someone who listens to your music will maybe find their way to this world or connect with the persons on the album; because it ain´t me - it´s my imagination talking.
You seem to have dabbled with a lot of techniques and instruments -- what kinds of interesting sonic techniques did you unearth?
Yes I did it almost alone which is nice but I´m not the most clever one in terms of technique. Still I can figure out everything and that takes time. I don´t know If I discovered something new for definite but let´s say I will have someone to help me out on the next album. As in someone who knows what´s going on!
Who else appears on the album?
My friend Jón Óskar Jónsson plays drums (also live), Simon Nykjær played bass, Eiríkur Rafn Stefánsson my brother sang on two songs and Sindri Már Sigfússon played electric guitar in few songs. Also Sindri and Héðinn my boyfriend helped out with some recordings. The rest is made by me.
Who (musically or otherwise) has inspired you throughout your life?
My piano teacher when I was young, Guðrún Guðmundsdóttir, was always so inspiring to me. She encouraged me to play and keep on though I wanted to stop play music. i´m so happy that I didn´t stop! Also my mom and dad and all of my friends who make and play music.
Which Icelandic artists are you listening to most in 2011?
Gus Gus (Arabian Horse), Sin Fang (Summer Echoes), Snorri Helgason (Winter Sun), Ólöf Arnalds (Innundir skinni), Skúli Sverrisson (Sería II), Amiina (Puzzle) and also Mr.Silla and Kippi Kanínus who are recording their stuff as i write this.
"The sun is going down pt 2" @ Sindri's recording studio
Sóley: the sun is going down pt 2 from morr music on Vimeo.
Source: Iceland Music Export