Ölóf Arnalds and Her Laufabrauð (EH)

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edwardhancox_dlI should be writing a ‘Daily Life’ about Christmas in Iceland. I could talk about the Yule Lads, a Christmas Cat, or various folklore and traditions. My favorite part of Christmas, now that I’m growing ungracefully older, has to be the food. For Christmas, I gorge myself. I needn’t eat throughout the month of January; I could survive on my Christmas fat reserves alone.

I was intrigued to see then that Ólöf Arnalds, the Icelandic chanteuse, had recently posted a recipe for her very own kjötsúpa on her blog. I decided to give it a go. It was delicious, I have to say. When I got the chance to interview Ólöf about her new album, I couldn’t resist asking her about it.

I enjoyed your kjötsúpa recipe from your website. Are you a good cook? What other Icelandic recipes should I try?

I’m a lazy everyday cook, but when I get in the mood I can do magical things in the kitchen. Well, Christmas is coming. You might want to try the traditional laufabrauð. It’s great fun if you make it from scratch.

Ölóf Arnalds, cousin of Ólafur, also a successful musician, is a popular artist, who has tried a range of different styles and arrangements. Her style has been called ‘freak-folk’ and ‘quirky,’ but I think she sounds best when just accompanied by an acoustic guitar.

Ölöf has decided to crowd-fund her latest album, Sudden Elevation. This means that fans can pledge funds online to get the album produced. It seems a strange thing to do, considering her previous success with traditional routes. Ólöf goes on to explain.

It’s not uncommon now for artists on indie labels to also reach out for crowd funding.  Records don’t sell as they used to, but still many people rather want to buy them if they get them personalized and signed. The thing is, if you have an ambitious project and want to make quality material related to the music, you need to find additional funding. It’s also a new, exiting way to interact directly with your followers and create discussion about what they want from you. It generates an online vibe for the project as well.

Although I’ve had great reviews everywhere, my CD sales have always been quite moderate. Hopefully this will change. Basically the pledge funding is a pre-sale of my record that generates funding for creative costs.

Ólöf has worked with pretty much everyone on the Icelandic music scene, including Amiina, members of Sigur Rós and Björk.

Who do you work with on your new album? Are there any surprises?

Actually it’s mostly just Skúli Sverrisson and I. My sisters Dagný and Klara sing and play too, and we had Magnús Trygvason Eliasen playing drums. There are a lot more vocals and the record is all in English.

Ólöf has just posted a video on her site. It’s a very seasonal video, where she plays an acoustic guitar and sings a tender song from her album. It’s filmed in Seyðisfjörður, with candles glimmering in the foreground, and the background of a window view of a snowy landscape and the odd pine tree. It really is very Christmassy.

I wish Ólöf the best of luck with crowd-funding her new album. I know how she feels; I’m crowd-funding my new book. I’m sure she’ll do just fine.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try my hand at making laufabrauð.

Edward Hancox – edhancox@live.co.uk

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 he hopes will be published in the spring of 2013. His favorite food is rhubarb.

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.