Photo by Sebastien Dehesdin
With band members spending time between Tokyo, London and Reykjavík over the past three years, Icelandic pop ensemble Rökkurró have been meticulously expanding their luscious musical palette.
The success of Rökkurró’s previous studio effort Í annan heim (produced by Alex Somers of Jónsi fame) was largely unexpected. The album spent over 100 weeks in the Top-30 of the Icelandic charts, while gathering warm words from international media such as NME, Clash Magazine, KEXP Radio, The Line Of Best Fit and CMU Daily.
Three years on, Rökkurró are back in the studio, with a new record scheduled for early 2014. This time around, their partner in crime is the renowned multi-instrumentalist and producer Helgi Hrafn Jónsson. “His ideas are fresh and we liked the fact that he chooses the artists he works with very carefully. We found out very soon that we shared a common vision for this project and that is really important,” explains singer Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir.
The first sample of their common work comes in the form of ‘Killing Time’, a three-minute, stripped-down piece of music that talks about “a person who feels young, but their body is failing them and how getting old is a misleading thing,” said Stefánsdóttir. “Our new sound has a few obvious changes. We have added more electronic elements. I have taken a break from the cello and have replaced it with a synthesizer. We also have two new members, Helga (piano) and Skúli (bass).”
‘Killing Time’ is also the band’s first song in English. “We wanted to try it out. When I was living in Japan, I was basically only speaking English and Japanese. I think it’s challenging and has a different feel to it – compared to what we've done before. But rest assured, we will do stuff in Icelandic again. We are really excited to be finally releasing new music,” enthused Stefánsdóttir.
Ólafur Arnalds, Icelandic composer
"Rökkurró's music is dark. It's very icelandic. They have their own sound and are still a young band that will continue to grow and make really exciting music…"
Alex Somers, Jónsi & Alex
“Delicate lullabies sung in Icelandic.”
Drowned In Sound (UK)
“Rökkurró excited us with their haunting alternative folk where heavy melancholy goes hand in hand with a light pop sensation.”
All Scandinavian (DK)
"…a spectacular development. The toolkit was extended, the arrangements have become more sophisticated, the group members more self-confident, playing music that sounds mindful and mature. …the secret weapon of the group, in addition to its graceful compositions, undoubtedly is the thin siren voice of cellist Hildur Kristin Stefansdóttir that fits perfectly with the fairytale atmosphere."
Dirk Steenhaut – Goddeau (BE)
"Their music does go some way to representing that image in sound, complete with the cold landscape of Iceland outside because the Reykjavik residents create that equally grand and delicate sound that, for some reason, only Nordic bands seem capable of pulling off."
CMU Daily (UK)
"Pulling lots of stereotypically icy tricks but blending it with such a heartfelt vocal and good warm dollop of strings, this is the perfect song to gaze out onto the lake (or just the main road running outside your door…) on the first proper cold day of the year."
Neu Magazine (UK)
"Rökkurró is quickly developing as one of Iceland's premiere bands."
The Muse Magazine (CA)
"An incredibly sweet Icelandic five piece. I think being Icelandic makes you auto-cute. The lady assumed British people wouldn’t like them because she thought we didn’t like Icelandic things, because of the banks and the volcanic ash. This, of course, was not the case and everyone was clearly charmed by their pretty music."
Anika In London (UK)
“Rökkurró have a cello-playing frontwoman with a lovely voice and songs to match.”
Si Hawkins – Clash Magazine (UK)
"Rökkurró are a scarily young and scarily talented young band who do exactly that, exhibiting spirit, subtlety and versatility across the course of their amazing debut 'Í Annan Heim' Very pretty in an audibly Icelandic style."
"Rökkurró really prove there is a lot more coming out of Iceland than volcanic ash, Björk and collapsing banking structures."
“The folk-tinged reverie of the wailing accordion and carefully plucked guitars sends you off sailing through the clouds.”
Let Me Like It (NL)
"It happens so rarely that quite unexpectedly an album appears on your desk that is so heartfelt and beautiful from the first to last note that you want to burst into tears."
"The dreamy softness of Rökkurró's folk melodies, enjoyable and timeless, indicate the potential of yet another Icelandic band that eventually will be able to to be talked about at international level."