Sitting down with Sóley

Before writing up Sóley for a post on NPR’s Song of the Day, I decided to get in touch with her to ask a few questions.

Sóley (photo Sigfús Már Pétursson, artwork Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir)

Here’s our discussion:

I’ve seen you play a few times since I’m a Seabear/Sin Fang fan. Are you still with these other projects or are you exclusively focusing on your solo career now?

Seabear took a break after last year. We were a lot on the road so it was really important for us to take a break but I think we will try to start meet early next year and start to compose some new material. All the members are just working on their own project or in other bands now. 

I just came back from Sin Fang/sóley tour few days ago. We were in Europe and it was awesome. I opened up for Sin Fang and also played with Sin Fang. Very nice.

Can you explain what made you decide to start writing and recording your own music? Has it always been something you wanted to do?

It just happened. I was not thinking about it when I was asked if I had some songs to send Morr Music because they wanted to see what I was doing. Then I was in school and as soon as I got the opportunity I jumped on it and made some new songs to send them. I´m really really happy that it happened because in my dreams this was what I wanted to do!

How has the transition been for you? Did it come easily? How do you feel about being in the spotlight now?

It´s nice. I like being on stage and being the front. It´s nice.

Where do you typically get inspiration for your songs? Do you sing about things that happen to you or are your songs more like stories?

The songs are more like stories yes. I don´t want to talk about my daily life in my songs. For me, my solo project is my escape from being myself and becoming the other sóley who thinks differently and lives in my mind. It´s another world which I try to make up in my mind, kind of a dreamy world. It does not exist in the real world.

Me: From the first time I heard “I Drown,” I loved it. What can you tell me about this song? What story does it tell? Who is the man in it? What did you use to get the muffled tapping noise that runs through it?

Sóley: This song is a kind of a love song but let´s say in a surreal way. As I visualize the song and the story it´s about an old man who lives alone in this house which is far away from everything. Somehow this girls (who is telling the story) is at his house, no one knows how she got there. So it´s kind of about their relationship there. The album title (we sink) is sung in the end of the song so I guess now you know what happens to them!I used a lot of “percussion” that isn´t really percussion, it´s more like my fork and some stick I found outside. This song is the first I recorded for the new album and I think it´s like a sweet homemade pie. I can hear my old apartments sound there.

Is it just me or are their dark undertones to this album? Where does this come from?

It all comes from the other world. From the other sóley who makes up these stories. It´s dark and dreamy and scary but still it has a bit of humor in it. It´s funny because it could not happen anywhere else than in your mind. Our mind is so weird and crazy so if you want you can make up really strange and surreal things in your mind.

Do you have help on We Sink or are you playing all the instruments? How long have you been playing the piano?

I played everything except drumset, bass in some songs and electric guitar in some songs. But most of it I did myself, piano, organs, guitar, percussion and voice.

I started playing piano when I was eight! That is almost 17 years… wow…

Then, just out of curiosity, what Icelandic artists would you recommend?

Sin Fang, Kimono, Hudson Wayne, múm, Ólöf Arnalds, Prins Póló, Fm Belfast, Gus Gus, Kippi Kaninus, Mr.Silla, Mugison, Ojba Rasta, Prins Póló, Samaris, Snorri Helgason… I think I am forgetting something…óó

To read the piece and hear the song “I Drown,” head over to NPR Music


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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