Highlands are Logi Pedro Stefánsson from Retro Stefson and the very talented Karin Sveinsdóttir. They seem to have come from nowhere, but are ready formed, ready to take on the dance floors of Reykjavík, and seemingly, my headphones.
They have recently given away their debut EP. I’ve no idea why; people would have surely paid good money for such music. I’ve paid an awful lot more for a hell of a lot worse. Just six tracks, it is a joyful 20 minutes.
It starts with the swirling ‘Berlin,’ all hectic beats, buzzing bass and that wonderful ‘la la la’ refrain. ‘Hearts’ is Highlands calling card; a standout track consisting of Karin’s sumptuous vocals being looped, lovely chiming and old fashioned story of love.
‘Rolling Stones’ begins with echoed, distant vocals before breaking into more electronic loveliness; look out for the surprising 90’s ‘word!’ halfway through and a further showcase of Karin’s vocal talents. ‘Stop Signs’ is the sound of a night-time city a full tilt, whilst ‘Sirens’ is the most Retro Stefson sounding of all the tracks. It bounces along. I was so taken with ‘Heartlands’ that I thought I’d give Logi a shout.
How did you and Karin meet?
We meet at a singing competition that I was judging for my old junior-college and then at parties and through mutual friends. I’ve also produced some tracks for her brother and stuff. It’s all been super chill.
How would you describe your music?
I would say that it’s really hip hop inspired. And I’m talking about everything from Chicago drill to Drake to Kanye. That’s kind of the core of it all. Loads of subs. The hip hop scene also has a loving relationship with punk and rock. And our stuff is kind of coming from all of that.
Does this mean the end of Retro Stefson then? I really hope not...
No we’re still working a lot, writing new music and touring. This is just something totally different...
Where does the name Highlands come from?
It’s has a lot of meanings... The Icelandic Highlands are actually a pretty special place. Coming from downtown 101 Reykjavík I didn’t really think a lot about the highlands when I was growing up. I remember being around 12 years old realizing how special and mysterious they are. [There’s a] lot of folklore surrounding the highlands. The name just fitted perfectly.
I see that Highlands are playing Sónar and Iceland Airwaves. Do you have any other plans? An album, maybe?
We are definitely playing more concerts at least. And we’re releasing our debut EP for free on the internet. We want the songs to get out there and we’re actually digging in to our own pockets to make it as good as possible. To make a top level EP free for you guys.
I really love the song ‘Hearts.’ What is it about?
Well, I don’t want to say too much because everybody should be able to connect to the lyrics from their own experiences. We’ve all had situations like the one in the song... We all hate sleeping alone.
How do you and Karin come up with songs?
I write the songs and some of the lyrics. Then Karin comes in and we try to make it all fit, work on the songs together and then record. Then I work on the songs for maybe months, maybe just some hours. And then it suddenly works. We’ve recorded so many demos and instrumentals. It’s kind of crazy.
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