Interview: Ólöf Arnalds
Published on March 29th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
“German Fields” has been confirmed as the next single to be taken from Ólöf Arnalds’s beguiling third album Sudden Elevation, its 2nd June release timed to coincide with her first UK dates for over a year and a half (click here for dates). Rocksucker fired her over some questions in anticipation of this forthcoming wave of activity, and received back one of the best death threats we’ve had this year…
What made you decide to do the whole album in English this time?
My first record was all in Icelandic because I was so in love with the Icelandic tongue. I still am and always will be. Nevertheless English has been a part of my life from early childhood. My mother’s parents moved to London shortly after World War II to seek education in music. Although my mother is born there, through a series of coincidences she turned out to be the only sibling of six to have an Icelandic spouse and live permanently in Iceland. I guess she fell for my father’s poetic charm and spontaneous kindness.
How much of the album’s instrumentation did you handle yourself? Who else played on it?
I performed most of the record myself. That is voice, violin, viola, charango, koto harp, keyboards, acoustic/electric guitar. Skúli Sverrisson, my producer and best friend, played acoustic bass and some counterparts on a small 12-stringed electric instrument called Shorty. I also brought in my sisters, Klara for voice and Dagný for piano and a beautiful drummer named Magnús Tryggvason Elíasen for where it was needed.
It’s quite a reflective and melancholic album. Was this your state of mind when you were making it?
Thank you for noticing this. Fortunately the making of this record was a step out of a trap (perhaps one of relentless reflection and melancholy) that I had been stuck in for a couple of years.
Do you still perform with múm? If not, can you see yourself doing so again in the future?
I´m actually going in tomorrow to do some vocal work for them. That is the first thing we do together for a while.
Why are all Icelandic people so musically talented??
Everyone is talented. You just have to get over that you are an odd one out.
Have you given any thought yet to your next project? If so, what can you tell us about it at this stage?
I could tell you something about it, but then I would have to slit your throat.
Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, with the entire works of just five different artists (musical or otherwise) for company, whose would you choose?
Ólöf Arnalds, thank you.