Rökkurró’s melancholic serenades are evocative of the cold and desolate landscapes of their distant homeland. Mesmerising tones and swooping strings projected against a bleak and solitary Nordic backdrop. And yet, unique warmth pervades Rökkurró’s music owed to the fragile and soothing voice of Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir.
Their debut Það Kólnar Í Kvöld.. (It’s Getting Colder Tonight) was released in 2007 in Iceland, Europe and Japan to great critical acclaim, followed by tour dates with iconic figures of the Icelandic music scene múm and celebrated neo-classical composer Ólafur Arnalds.
Three years on Rökkurró are releasing their sophomore album Í Annan Heim (In Another World) produced by Alex Somers, partner and music collaborator of Jónsi Þór Birgisson (Sigur Rós). Í Annan Heim is a collection of nine graceful compositions that showcase a darker, more expansive and mature sound, full of meticulously crafted melodies, complex arrangements and smooth sonic textures.
Rökkurró was selected by Clash Magazine to play at the Nordic Music Export clubnight Ja Ja Ja in London in October 2010.
How do you describe your music to people, Hildur?
The music we play today is a atmospheric post rock with eerie as well as classical influences.Some of our songs are rather dark and heavy and then some are more classically influenced and brighter.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I was a musical kid and my mother wanted me to play an instrument. I got to pick one out and I chose harp. But in that time there was no music school that teached kids to play the harp in Iceland! So we settled on me learning the cello. Ever since then I've been deep into music and when I was playing the cello in some joke band at a school gig Árni, the guitarist from Rökkurró saw me and wanted me to join a band he was making to play the cello. The funny thing is that he had no idea that I could sing and had yet to find the singer. There was also accordion in the beginning and we were reallly inspired to play folky/ balkan/ french inspired music, somewhat like the music in the french movie Amelie. But soon after starting to play together we formed our own style rather different from the original idea but we liked it.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
For me, being on stage is absolutely wonderful. I like that far more than writing music because writing is really painful like 90% of the time until you finally have something in your hands that you like. But this is a very typical answer to this question so I have to say my favorite thing to do apart from music. And I would say that that is throwing a good dinner party with good people. I absolutely love food and have just recently started to really like cooking gourmet food. And of course there would be some good wine with the food and hopefully some dancing afterwards. Perfect!
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
The music industry is hard. Especially lately as record sales are going drastically down and everything is changing. The time and effort you put into your music is really small compared to all the time you have to spend in trying to get your music out there. Sometimes you're lucky but most of the time you spend a lot of time and often amount of money to try to follow your dream, but you see no real outcome. It's challenging to go through that and sometimes you just really want to stop it and go back into your room and play music just for you. But in the end, all the good shows, all the fun travelling, the people you hear about that you have affected in a good way, they all make it worth it.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid wanted to open up my own shop. And I kind of still do. But then I always wanted to have music involved in my life somehow. I really wanted to be in a band and sing. Mayby I'll get the opportunity to combine these 2 things, that would be sweet!
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
We live in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. It's not a big place but the music scene is immense. It's cold and dark the biggest part of the year and I think that has inspired us a lot in our music. We seem to write all our music during the darkest hour and when the summer comes we really don't write anything at all. And that's not planned it just happens. People have also said that our music is winter music so I guess it really fits. I think Reykjavík as a music scene is also really inspiring. There is such an immense amount of good band in this small place so I think it's really inspiring to be surrounded by such amount good music. And from our small country have been such big stars as Sigur Rós and Björk so you really put your effort into everything, because you know nothing is impossible. Most of our friends are also in bands and we feel that helps in the diversity, because no one wants to sound as their friends sound. People do just any kind of music they want to do because they rather want to be original than trying to hard to be as somebody.
What other artists out there do you love?
The music taste of all the guys in the band is really diverse. Although you would maybe not believe it I am a lot into hardcore rock and punk music and I love Modern Life is War and Converge in that genre. I also listen a lot to indie rock like Interpol and the Wombats. But my all time favorites are Portishead, Radiohead, Sigur Rós and Bill Callahan.
What does your future hold?
I certainly hope that my future will hold a lot of music. Rökkurró are starting to branch out from Iceland and in March we're going to the US for the first time! This is really exciting. We really love doing this so I hope we can do it as long as we want! As for my own future, I am learning Japanese in the University of Iceland and am planning to go there in near future. I think I'll just convince the band to come with me and we'll be big in Japan.