Rökkurró returned in October 2014 with a new studio album Innra, produced by multi-instrumentalist Helgi Hrafn Jónsson. The three year gap between the two albums gave Rökkurró the space to meticulously expand their luscious palette into the beautiful, dreamy soundscapes that is Innra.
New members Helga on piano and Skúli on bass have been added to the line-up and time spent by the bands members between Tokyo, London and Reykjavík inspired Rökkurró to record their first part-English speaking record.
Here some words from Helga, the keyboard player in Rökkurró.
When and why did you start playing?
I don't remember when I started playing, I'm pretty sure it was as soon as I could hold my head up. My parents were music teachers so it was pretty inevitable.
What was the first tune(s) you learned?
I started regular piano lessons with my dad when I was 3 years old so I don't really remember which ones were the first tunes. When I grew into my teens however I started learning songs by my favourite artists. I think I started with songs by Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell and Nobuo Uematsu.
Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
One of my all times favourite artists is Björk. She always keeps on growing, making every new album to be a new experience, growing as an artist and raising the bar for herself. I'd say the same thing about Emiliana Torrini, Tori Amos and many more. The musicians I admire have in common that they are doing their thing and growing with each album, not trying to recreate what they've already done. Sometimes the experiments might not pay off completely, but they're not content to just sit in the same rut forever. They're making music for themselves and out of passion and that is admirable.
Describe your first instrument. Other instruments.
As mentioned before I played piano before I can remember. I think the first piano we had had its sound board crack from the dry air in Iceland while me and my dad were playing together when I was only 1 year old. My earliest memories of our pianos was moving house and having to sell our piano because it couldn't fit up the stairs. Pianos are so unhandy. The first instrument I bought for myself was a Kawai electric piano when I moved to Reykjavík for university. It served its purpose but I can't say I really bonded with it. Later I got a beautiful Washburn Western acoustic guitar from my family and I now have a smaller bodied Guild acoustic which sounds amazing. My all time favourite instrument that I have ever owned is my Nord Electro 3 which I'm using right now. I bought it at a time when I had no money but it's paid off many times since. It's a keyboard player's dream: an instrument that you can strap on your back and take in hand luggage (although sometimes you have to smooth talk the airport staff a little bit). Knowing that you have an instrument with all your sounds that is always in tune is a privilege keyboard players should never take for granted.
What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?
Some of the fondest memories are from get togethers at my house when I was a child. My dad would always whip out the guitar and everybody would join in singing. My parents' vocal quartets or recorder groups rehearsed at home so music was a part of every day life. At the moment I live with two other musicians so it's nice to experience that setting again. I think my favourite memory of a live performance is when I saw Sigur Rós play their outside concert in Ásbyrgi in the north of Iceland, only an hour away from my home town. I had just decided to go study music in the city and that concert was so immersive and effortless that it just solidified everything I had been planning to do with my life.
Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?
My favourite musicians are many and varied. Björk, Tori Amos, The National, Elbow, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. I also had a long period of listening solely to film music so Thomas Newman, Dario Marianelli and Danny Elfman also deserve a mention. At the moment I also listen quite a lot to Banks, Lucius, Little Dragon and Bombay Bicycle Club. Some of my all time favourite CDs include Relationship of Command by At the Drive-in, Vespertine by Björk, Blue by Joni Mitchell and the American Beauty score by Thomas Newman. It really fluctuates what I'm listening to.
Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
It's been a while since I've really felt nerves before a show. There's always a feeling of excitement and uncertainty of how the gig will be, but not exactly nerves. I learned a few years ago that the way to avoid nerves is to be 110% certain that you know your stuff, that it's as easy as breathing. So not much before. But it can happen that if you're not connecting with the music or you don't feel in the zone that you psyche yourself out on stage. It happens to every musician; if you get the feeling on stage that you're not completely on your game you get in your head and in your way, so much that you mess something up that you've done hundreds of times. The real challenge is to learn how to not psyche yourself out. It's still a work in progress for me.
Something that you would like to say to the audience...
Music is such a great thing and I think that everybody who wants to should be able to take part in it. So many people think that music is only for a select few to do, but I think that's not the case. You don't have to be a master chef to enjoy cooking. So to all those that want to take up an instrument or want to sing but are afraid they're not good enough I say, it's never too late. Go for it!
2 Feb - Start The Bus, Bristol (UK)
3 Feb - The Tin Music And Arts, Coventry (UK)
4 Feb - Sebright Arms, London (UK)