Grúska Babúska is a female four-piece based in Reykjavík, but with their eyes firmly set on the rest of the world. They have a unique sound, whilst at the same time could only have come from Iceland. They could quite possibly be the next big thing. I caught up with one of the band members, Harpa, to find out a bit more about them.
I saw you at Iceland Airwaves, playing a ‘Rock and Bacon’ breakfast time set. I thought it went really well. How was it for you?
We really enjoyed it. It was a very early show, at nine in the morning actually, and we’re not used to having to get up that early in general, let alone to play a gig, but it felt like a great way to start the day.
How would you describe your music?
Hmmm... I can try.... Grúska Babúska is a four piece all female band, with an out-of-space wonky, electronic, synth, melodic, acoustic and twisted sound and vocal harmonies....
Can you introduce me to the band members? What do you do when you are not playing music?
My name is Harpa, I play the keyboards, synth and computer, and when I’m not doing music I work as an art event manager and producer. Arndís, who plays the flute and the ukulele, is studying in Leuven, Belgium. Guðrún Birna, who plays the guitar, melodica and music box, is a book-keeper and Dísa, who plays percussions and drums, is taking her masters in music composition and production at the Icelandic Academy of Arts.
Are you all from Reykjavík? Is the Reykjavík music scene crucial to your success?
We are all living in Reykjavík, except for Arndís who will be back here in six months. Arndís and I come from small fishing villages in the north of Iceland, but moved to Reykjavík when going to high school.
I have to say that the music scene in Reykjavík is not so crucial to our success or our music, as we always knew and focused on releasing our music internationally, either the traditional way—through an international label—or online.
Your music has an eclectic mix of instruments. Was this a conscious decision?
Yes and no. We all have a very different musical background and that’s why we all knew from the beginning that something different and interesting was bound to come out of us making music together. At the same time we did not try in any way to make it something that it wasn’t. Guðrún Birna has studied jazz singing, Arndís is a trained flute player, I myself have studied classical piano for years and experimented with electronica and tune production and Dísa has a BA in music for theater production and is doing her masters in music now, so this mix was bound to bring something interesting to the plate!
Where does the name Grúska Babúska come from?
‘Grúska’ means to dig for something or look for something in particular.Like when you’re a music fan and like staying in records shops for ages, searching and digging for the hidden gem. ‘Babúska’ describes the world of the tunes and the songs a lot as this colorful, fairytale magical feminine babúska world... and the word also rhymes with grúska!
What’s next for Grúska Babúska?
We just launched a record deal with a label in Birmingham. So now it’s producing the product, mastering the songs, helping with promotion and distribution. Hopefully soon after we’ll be able to play some shows internationally! We don’t want to give much away about the release (and the product) itself, as it’s going to be a very different one and we are very excited for the reaction. All we can say is that the ‘album’ is expected in March this year (2013).
I look forward to the album release. I’m intrigued to see what Grúska Babúska do next. I’m sure it’s going to be ‘out-of-space wonky,’ and that sounds all right to me.
Edward Hancox – firstname.lastname@example.org
Edward is married and has one small, but noisy child. He lives in the U.K. He has traveled to Iceland on numerous occasions; more times than he cares to remember. Edward is a frequent contributor to Iceland Review and has a popular blog at www.icelanddefrosted.com. He has just completed his first novel, which will be published in the spring of 2013. His favorite food is rhubarb.