Today the Icelandic singer and entrepreneur Björt Sigfinnsdóttir releases her new album together with a music video by Australian artist Carla Zimbler for the track Demons. We are honored to premiere the video here on idoart.dk and in that context we took a chat with Björt to get to know a bit more about her many creative paths.
We have known Björt Sigfinnsdóttir for a long time, and her creative projects have never failed to amaze us. She has created what most of all can be described as an artistic movement, centered around a small fishing village on the east coast of Iceland. For more than a decade LungA Festival has engaged creative individuals from everywhere and made Seyðisfjörður into an focal point for artistic experiments. Now she is releasing her debut album together with her band Fura, and as soon as we heard about it, our expectations rose into the air. And we weren’t disappointed. Fura’s electronic, yet organic, sound is filled with mesmerizing rhythms, and Björt’s beautiful voice binds it all together in a sense that reminiscent of wide Icelandic landscapes.
Björt is an amazing creative person and we really admire her for her way of transforming simple things into compelling stories, songs and platforms. Below you can read our interview with Björt and hear much more about the new album and video, and how she transforms sheeps into dragons, small icelandic villages into platforms of creativity and thoughts and feelings into music and art.
Hi Björt. First of all congrats with your new album. :)
Hi Rikke and Matias. Thank you so much!
Can you tell us something about the process of working with the new release?
This album has been in the making for quite some time now. It actually started out as an acoustic album, back in 2008. It was almost fully produced and recorded and was just missing the mastering when I realized that it was not the sound I wanted to go for. I wanted to do electronic music as I felt that it fitted better to both my own personality at this point, the lyrics and the feeling of the songs in general. So I started from scratch. This time I teamed up with Hallur Jónsson and Janus Rasmussen (also known from the bands Bloodgroup, Lily the kid, Byrta and Kiasmos). They are two of my absolute favorite artists from the electronic scene in Iceland, so I was extremely honored to work with them.
We started working together in 2013, but they have been living in Reykjavík the entire time, and I have either been living in Denmark or on the east coast of Iceland, so the process was slowed down because of that. We took some intense weekends in the studio and then we bounced ideas over the internet. It was a very smooth process actually.
The album was ready around Christmas 2014, so you can understand that I am VERY excited to send it on into the world now.
It’s no secret that we have been following your work for quite some years now with both the LungA Festival and School – and we find your projects extremely amazing. But how do you find time for your music in all this, and how do you balance your many roles as an entrepeneur and a creative individual?
Thank you, I am very flattered. Well I guess it is safe to say that I have been a little bit busy for the past few years, and that has of course also delayed the whole process of this album. From 2011 – 2015 my main focus was on establishing and building up the LungA school and HEIMA creative collective in Seyðisfjörður, so my music has very much been in the background. But this last summer I took a leave from my job at the school and moved back to Denmark to focus on my music.
I’m trying to be more conscious about how to balance my entrepreneurial and creative needs, but they are of course very intertwined and all my projects are very creativity related and passion driven and therefore contributing to my creative thirst. But there is a huge difference of course, as most of my projects are about creating platforms for others to express their creative voices and develop their perspectives, as where my music and my own artistic projects are about my own voice and my own perspectives. It’s actually a bit tricky for me to balance those two things and I am afraid that I will have to do it in periods where one thing is in focus while the other is in the background, and then I switch… For now at least – but you know, that might change as I change!
Today you are also releasing your music video for “Deamons”. Can you tell us the story behind it?
Yes I can. In 2014, 2 years ago, we started the beta program for the LungA art school in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland. That was where I met my first team of students and amongst those students there was this quirky little dark haired Australian girl named Carla Zimbler. She has then come back for the festival and enlisted for a full semester at the school last year, so our relationship has grown over the last years. I loved her style and asked if she wanted to make a video for me, she said yes. She filmed some of it in Australia, but finished it when she came back to the school last year, with help from some of my other students and colleagues at the school, the Seyðisfjörður swimming pool and the majestic nature. So most of the video is shot in my home town, starring my students, which makes it so much more personal. I am so happy with the result.
Everything you do seems deepely influenced by your Icelandic roots, and when we think about your work and listen to your music, we instantly want to pack our bags and fly to Iceland. In a globalised world where cultures are more and more streamlined, it’s rare to experience this kind of autencity. Is it on purpose, and what can we learn from Iceland? :)
Everything I do is deeply influenced by my Icelandic roots. I feel very Icelandic and I think growing up in this tiny little town on the east coast of Iceland, surrounded by high majestic mountains and more often than not some crazy weather, has really had a big influence on the formation of my inner self.
I grew up not really understanding that there was more on the other side of the mountains. I knew that people would come with the ferry and then they would leave again, but I never really thought about where they left to, as for me the entire world was these 600 people who I lived within this town, the ocean, the sheeps, the horses, the weather and the mountains. I grew up feeling different. I was often mistaken for being the hyperactive annoying kid, when I was actually just a frustrated creative kid in the need of a platform for all the thoughts and ideas that were overflowing my head. Often the nature served as this platform, and as I ran up and down the mountains, inside my own extreme fairytales, the sheeps turned into dragons and cliffs turned into castles…
I searched for acceptance for many years, I fought insecurity for most of my life, I later realized that the world was big and have been trying to soak it in ever since – but some how I always get pulled back to Iceland, to this tiny town where I felt so different but so safe at the same time. I found acceptance within myself and I have learned to recognize my insecurity, for the most part.
I don’t know if this answers your question at all, but this is what came to my mind, haha. No I don’t think that my “Icelandicness” is on purpose, Iceland has formed me into who I am and it is where I keep most of my favorite memories and where I go when I feel unbalanced. I think it’s a big part of who I am and therefore unavoidable in everything I do.
What will the future bring for you and Fura?
I hope that the future will bring us in FURA a lot of opportunities to share and play our music for as many people as possible, to inspire, influence and touch people with our music. For me personally I just hope that I can keep on doing exciting projects, translate my thoughts and feelings into music and art. Most of all I hope the future brings a fountain full of adventures for me to experience together with the people I love.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just thank you again and I hope to see you at our release concert in Copenhagen on march 4th at Sigurdsgade on Nørrebro.
Love and warm thoughts, Björt.
Rikke Luna (f. 1988) og Matias Albæk-Falk (f. 1988) er stiftere af idoart.dk, og driver derudover formidlingsbureauet I DO ART Agency samt forlaget I DO ART Books. Rikke og Matias bor og arbejder i København.