Die isländische Sängerin SÃ³ley ist mit ihrem Megahit „Pretty Face“ im Jahr 2011 eingeschlagen wie eine Granate. 2014 ist sie Mutter geworden, hat ihr Piano-Album „KrÃ³mantik“ veröffentlicht und die Arbeit an ihrem neuen Album vollendet. Ich habe Sie in Groningen auf dem Eurosonic-Festival zum Interview getroffen. Dabei erzählte Sie, warum Sie es nicht schafft, Lieder in Dur zu schreiben, welche Bedeutung das Piano-Album für sie hat und was das besondere an ihrem neuem Pop-Album ist.
SÃ³ley ist übrigens am 27.5. im Frankfurter Zoom und am 28.5. in Köln im Gebäude 9 live zu sehen.
SÃ³ley: Pretty Face
2014 was quite a year for you: you gave birth to your baby, published KrÃ³mantik and completed the next album, which will be out in 2015. Quite an exciting year, right? What was the most important thing?
The baby! It is definitely the most important thing. Well, I also published my piano-album but it was already made. So it was just something to release in between albums. But when my child was about four month old I started taking her to my mom when my boyfriend was working to concentrate on the new album. I made myself a deadline to finish it before the end of 2014 because otherwise because otherwise I could have been working on it for another year or something. So… This is crazy. I don“™t know how I did it but I did.
What did the event of having a baby change in your life as a musician?
Actually I asked myself a lot of questions about it, already before I got pregnant. I really thought about if I had to stop my career or if I was a bad mother if I went on with it. Theses are questions every women asks herself, I guess. Actually, I tried not to let her change my life that much. You know, when I went to my studio I just tried not to think about her too much. Having a baby is all so cute and you get so soft. It“™s love – a different kind of love. And I feel, I don“™t want my music to be like that. I just tried to separate those two things. Also about the traveling. I didn“™t travel much since she was born but when she was six month I went to Berlin for a show and I took her with me. And I was breastfeeding right before the show and changing her diaper and everything. And I was just all the time thinking so much about her just right before going on stage. And a few weeks after that I went to Seattle alone. And it just made more sense like that. So now, while I“™m in Groningen, she“™s at home with my boyfriend. Well, maybe I should be at home with her and be a mom. But I decided to do it like that.
In July 2014 you published your album Kromantik, which consists of 8 almost voiceless piano songs. You studied composition. Is this a relict of your time as an art student?
Yeah, it“™s eight pieces I collected from bigger pieces that I wrote when I studied music composition in Reykjavik. So it was on my computer and I always wanted to release it. I just wanted to make something different than the pop-music, I wanted to make classical music! I didn“™t know if my record company wanted to release it so I was just going to do it myself. But then they decided to do it and release it. And I“™m really happy. I just wanted to get it out there. Nothing more. Just to get it out of my system, you know.
What does the name „KrÃ³mantik“ mean?
It“™s actually a combination of two words: „Chromatic“ and romantic. „Chromatic“ is about the chromatic scale of the piano, when you play all the notes. And there“™s a lot of songs on the album in which I used the whole chromatic scale. Like always going up and down. And then „romantic“. And I just put theses two words together.
SÃ³ley – „Kromantik“
What does this kind of music give you that miss when you make pop-music?
Mh. For me it“™s freedom, I don“™t have to use my voice. And this is really relieving because“¦ you know, I“™m not a singer. I don“™t want to be called a singer because I am not. I never studied singing. I“™m really bad at warming up my voice before shows and everything. But I like to sing, in a way. When you“™re on stage and everybody“™s listening. And in addition: People expect so much, when I do my pop-music, which puts you under much pressure, even if I try not to let it happen too much. And with the piano-album I could do something that was far away from everything people expected of me.
I also wrote „Kromantik“ because I thought that maybe people who don“™t like my pop-music might like this piano-album and so I just spread it. It“™s good to let people know that you can do something more.
The feeling I get when I hear it is a bit of a sadness and melancholy. Why do you think is that?
Yeah, that“™s because the songs are all in a minor key. I“™m really bad at writing songs in a major key, the „happy key“. I can“™t do it! There“™s one song on the new album which I wrote in major. And it took me 25 versions of it to be happy with it. I never understood and I was like „what“™s wrong with this song?“ until I recognized that it was written in major. But now I really like it. It“™s probably the poppiest song on the album. It“™s called „Dreamers“.
How does it come, that you can“™t compose in major?
Well, it“™s not because I“™m sad. I „˜m really a happy person. But I – like everyone – have my downs. And I“™m rather anxious sometimes, that pops in sometimes. A crazy fear of things. I think this fear is kind of a boost in my creativity. The lyrics that I write are also about fear of death and stuff. But I think it just makes me feel good just to write it down and get it out there in a poem.
Your lyrics are then like a therapy for you?
Yeah! I“™m never as focused as when writing music in my studio. I don“™t know how it is to have me as a girlfriend. I“™m quite a chaos sometimes and bad at focusing. The only time I focus is when I“™m making music.
What does writing lyrics then mean to you?
It“™s really hard for me to write the lyrics. They don“™t just come to me. It“™s always the last thing I do when making a new song. Usually I start with the beat and then. I like my songs to be like poems. Poems are so good for my chaotic mind. They“™re really short. They have a start and an end and a climax and everything. The structure is nice! So I read a lot of poems also to get inspiration – but also for the fun of it!
In the song „I´ll drown“ from the 2011 album „We Sink“ the sound in the start sounds like a ping-pong-ball in „Pretty Face“ its some other sound like ancienct squeaking-creaking machines or are completely artificial. Where do you take your inspiration for that sounds from?
I like doing a lot of percussions myself. Sometimes I just use two sticks to make a sound, record it, and then put a lot of plug-ins on that sound so it sounds kind of weird. All those sounds are really not what you think they are. The sounds just emerge during the process. My new album is going to have a lot of percussion as well.
In May 2015 your new album „Ask The Deep“ will be out. How is it? What is special about it?
The biggest difference to the music I did before is probably that I stopped using the piano. The reason for that is, that I really got tired of playing piano on stage. It“™s really hard to get a good live-piano-sound. Unless you have a real grand piano, which is impossible most of the times. So I was thinking about using the organ instead. So, that“™s the main difference. But still it“™s just my songs. I still haven“™t put the album in a place. It“™s still too new to do so, it“™s still being mastered right now.
What“™s your favourite song of the new album?
It“™s „One-Eyed Lady“ that I played yesterday on stage here in Groningen. It has the line „Would you kill for love?“ in it. When I listen to it, I get like a shiver. It“™s about a lady who“™s been left alone buy a guy. But she“™s a witch and so can find out where he is.
Hier singt SÃ³ley „One-Eyed Lady“:
On your Facebook-Account you stated: „After you have a child, sleep is something you just don’t do. It’s just not a thing anymore. So I write about sleep instead. sleep and dreams and nightmares.“ How will that be present in your new album?
What I like about dreams is, that some things that happen are really weird but inside the dreams it just makes so much sense. You´re never like „Whooo, this is weird!“ or „Why I am on the toilet in the supermarket?“. So I thought that should be the same with my lyrics: They can be like in a dream and do not have to make sense. When you kind of get stuck in writing I just decide to write down lyrics as if they were in a dream. I really like that.
Which bands and artists are inspiring you?
The most inspiring thing at the moment is actually silence. But I also listen a lot to Connan Mockasin. When I listen to his music I cry, I laugh – all emotions come up. Because it came out at a point in my life where many things were going on.