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Track by track: Jófríður Ákadóttir on Pascal Pinon's Sundur

24 August 2016, 10:54

Pascal Pinon's Jófríður Ákadóttir takes us track by track through the duo's third album Sundur

"Jósa & Lotta"

This song was written in Amsterdam when I came over to visit Ásthildur in the spring on 2014. She would sit by the piano at her music school and noodle around and I sat next to her, mumbling some melodies over it. We recorded a demo on my phone and didn’t come back to it until we were at the studio later that year, we listened to the phone recording and finished the melody and lyrics. Our dad was adamant that we record the phone demo as well and that’s the intro on the album.


This was written ages ago, when I was only 17. I wrote it after I had made a new friend, one I had the chance and privilege of sharing thoughts on life and death with. He told me the story of how his mother committed suicide in the most tragic way. I went home that same day and wrote the song in the afternoon, trying to make sense of the story, the emotions and his remarkable wholeness.


We called this song 'the techno song’ because of the casio keyboard beat. It was written based around this drone tone and bass tones, the melody is roughly around 3 notes altogether. It emerged shortly after we recorded ‘Twosomeness’ our last album so it has a very similar lyrical theme, longing to be with someone that’s far away.


The title is a term that exists only in Icelandic and translates as ‘the short days’ or is basically referring to the dark winter season. It’s a kind of hopeful melancholy, things are pretty low but they’re gonna get better. I was in school that time and was reading Halldór Laxness, his work definitely influenced the wordplay and metaphoric speech. The soundscape comes from this old juno that was a bit wonky and we just messed around with it for a while.


I recorded the bulk of this song ages ago, it’s more or less a home demo but we re-did the vocals and added some bass. I was starting to learn about recording techniques, how to use them in order to make more complex songwriting. We named it Fuglar or Birds cause we were asked to donate a song to collect money for endangered migrant birds in Malta, we contributed a demo of this track and named it in honour of all birds.

"Spider Light"

This is us messing around on a piano, adding bits and pieces, kind of going overboard cheesy but never properly all the way anywhere. Ásthildur came up with the title, I have no idea where it comes from. We contemplated on whether to add vocals but then we were going on about how important it is to sing through the piano when you’re interpreting so we decided to let the piano do all the singing.


We used to call this song the Brahms ballad, as a reference to its Brahms inspired chord progression and the emotion of the ballad. We were exploring this concept of making music only using our fortes, Ásthildur’s piano playing and my vocals. The lyrics are a kind of diary style story telling, you can even hear me turning a page at one point. The title Orange is a reference to the repeated phrase of something being bitter and sweet and then bittersweet. Orange is kinda like that.


Is the sleepy song. We recorded some bells, a bass drum and a lawn mower that was passing by the studio and hummed in perfect tune to the music.


It’s a harmonium anthem. Originally a guitar track we decided last minute to mute the guitars and leave all the harmonium takes in there at once. It blends together with some weird percussion that is mostly metal junk and even some airplane parts that my dad acquired from the airport junkyard. The lyrics are inspired by Karen Blixen’s short story ‘Dykkeren’ about a man who wants to learn how to fly and be an angel. He later found out that angels don’t fly, they swim. When they swim they can’t fall down.


Simply translates as love. It’s a general tale and pondering of love and what it means and takes to get it right. Also written at the time I was reading Halldór Laxness and was inspired to write more in Icelandic. We approached in the way classical music is recorded, one mic on the voice, stereo pair on the piano and stereo pair in the room. The piano was prepared, we put some paper and pens in there to get a sound effect in certain registers. I wrote the song and Ásthildur made the piano arrangement skilfully.


This is an old song. Recorded live, during the last hours of an intense weekend of recording sessions. It was originally intended to go on ‘Twosomeness’ and therefore has a similar lyrical theme as that album. But it kind of fits well with ‘Sundur’ in a way that it tells a tale of melancholy and being apart from somebody or something. It has some funny instruments on there, bird flutes and bassoon played by Ásthildur and tuba played by our father.

Sundur is out now via Morr Music. Buy it on iTunes or Amazon.
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