Introducing Icelandic Composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir

Iceland is notorious for offering some of the most talented musicians and composers. Reykjavík-born Herdís Stefánsdóttir is one such talent, who is seeing great success as a composer of music for multimedia since graduating with an M.A. degree in film scoring in 2017. Since graduation she has scored two feature films, an HBO series and a few short films.

Herdís is also a songwriter and electronic musician and formed an electro-pop duo East of My Youth in 2015, as well as creating her own solo tracks. Today she releases a track called ‘ÞOKA’ which can be found on ‘Ambient Layers’, a new compilation by 7K! Records.

We spoke to Herdís to hear her story, her influences and her recommendations…

Tell us who you are and what is your sound?

I’m Herdís Stefánsdóttir, an Icelandic composer. My sound is always changing and evolving depending on what I’m doing but to name a few things I’d say my sound is melodic, dark, a little dirty, bendy, sampled, processed, warm…

What exciting projects have you got coming up?

I’m working on an Icelandic TV series called Blackport. It’s about corruption and how a few families in Iceland became wealthy in the fish industry (Iceland´s cocaine). And then next year I will start releasing my first solo project which I am really excited about!

Photo Credit: Dustin O’Halloran

Where did you grow up and what music influenced you?

I grew up in Iceland and partly in Sweden. As a young child I really liked classical music, my favourites were Grieg, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven (I know, really a posh child p.s. I also liked Britney). As a teenager I started to get into electronic music. I remember being blown away at age 14 hearing Portishead’s Dummy and Air’s Moon Safari, I also had some older records from the 70’s that my dad gave me. From that point I started digging into more experimental electronic stuff.

What cool places do you recommend to visit in your city (bars, restaurants, etc)?

Coocoo’s Nest is the best brunch. Röntgen and Kaffibarinn are the best bars. For restaurants I recommend Matbar, the dumplings at Dragon dim sum and a new place called Hosiló!

An example of Herdís Stefánsdóttir wonderful work on the soundtrack to The Sun Is Also A Star

We love recommendations – what have you been listening to, watching, or reading recently?

I am currently half way through Murakami’s Killing Commendatore, it’s really good, a page turner! I recently watched The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix and thought it was fun, recommend! Then I think the new Attenborough documentary, his witness statement (Life on Our Planet), is a must watch for all humans.

Finally, what was the last thing that made you swear out loud?

I think it was the day before yesterday when I was exporting stems in a big session and realized I started from the wrong place and had to start over, an hour into the process. Exporting stems is one of my least favourite things in the world.

Photo Credit: Dustin O’Halloran

Find out more about Herdís on her website:
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Interview by Alex Minnis

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