Having finished an epic binge of TV series Vikings we were drawn to a post on Instagram by one of the actresses from the show Ragga Ragnars with an appearance in a new music video by Icelandic musician Ragnar Ægir.
Ragnar cites the likes of Prefab Sprout, Miike Snow and Phoenix as some of his influences but along with them has been the inspiration of the incredible Icelandic landscape.
Where are you from and what are your favourite places to experience there?
I grew up in Southeast Iceland on a remote farm close to the Glacier Lagoon, with Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Europe on one side, and the North Atlantic Ocean on the other. There are some incredible places in and around my home area – some well known tourist spots but also lesser known lagoons and mountains that you can explore.
Going into an ice cave during the winter months is a one-of-a-kind experience. My friend Ása Steinars recently did an amazing video from one of her visits into a cave that is just a 10min drive from my parents farms. My favourite time to visit Iceland is in January – you often get amazing winter weather – cold & snowy but the light can be amazing (but only for about 4.5 hours of daylight). It’s also a good time to see the northern lights.
I have been working in and around the tourism industry since I was 12 years old and I am really passionate about promoting Iceland, but for the right reasons to the right audience. I think it’s a content creators paradise, and for those looking to experience our playfully mischievous weather and landscape.
I am getting more concerned about over-tourism. Although Iceland looks tough and rugged from the outside, it is more fragile than one might think. The Vatnajökull National Park has a big role to play in shaping the future of tourism in Iceland, but thankfully there are some really successful models out there that we can learn from, particularly in the Rocky Mountains in Canada (Jasper, Banff).
How would you best describe your sound?
I spent my childhood and teenage years obsessing over songwriting and music production. Those passions I somehow “switched off” when I started my technology business, and I did nothing music related in over 10 years.
I’ve then spent the last 6 months trying to figure out why I want to make music. My conclusion is that the creative process of writing music gives me the mental strength that I need to be the person I want to be. It enables my genetically-inherited fearlessness that tends to diminish as you get older. It allows me to process emotions and experiences with words and sounds that otherwise have no other means to escape.
It is essentially a survival mechanism.
In the last few years I was in a dark and shitty place, constantly stressed out, burned out, sleeping poorly and drinking to numb my emotions. I had to really dig into the core of who I am to realise that this massive part of my childhood – music and songwriting – was potentially a key element to holistic wellbeing.
I think all of these feelings and realizations come across in my music. It’s sincere and emotional, dark but somewhat optimistic. My music is a soundtrack for those going through an existential crisis.
What have you got planned for the year?
In 2020 I realised how powerful and therapeutic writing music was, and I was really productive as a songwriter. It helped that I had all of this available time – I had been travelling a lot for my startup but with COVID all of that changed. In 2021, it’s time to release the stuff that I am proudest of and keep working on new ideas, keep collaborating with some amazing people like Ása Steinars, Ragga Ragnars, Hoddith and Biggi Hilmars
When can we expect to see you start to play some online or live music?
My wife always says that I look the happiest playing for an audience but at the same time I don’t really have an ambition to do the whole live touring thing. I’d be interested to do a couple of live sessions in an interesting location (maybe Iceland?) with some amazing hand-picked musicians and share that with the world, but you won’t see me announce any touring dates!
I am more for creating music videos, with powerful scenery, intimate and up-close storytelling. I am really fortunate to work with Icelandic filmmaker Hoddith and we have so many incredible things in the pipeline that I can’t wait to share. He produced and directed the entire video of my debut single ‘The Surface’. They created something special with that video. I just threw a really high-level idea at him, “Hey, why don’t we get Ragga Ragnars from Vikings to go swim in the ocean?” and he turned it into a story that is completely aligned with the theme and purpose of the song.
What can we do to help support your music and where do we need to go to do that?
Right now, I am just getting started on my journey. There will be so many amazing stops along the way, with the destination yet to be determined – if you want to be part of it – follow me on Instagram where I am most active, or find me on Facebook or YouTube.
Finally, what was the last thing you read, watched, and listened to?
I am currently reading Start with Why by Simon Sinek, which is a really powerful book and concept that applies to anyone who wants to find a deeper meaning to their actions, whether in business, arts or life in general. I just finished watching Bridgerton on Netflix which I can recommend, if not only for some great music supervising. I then have Asgeir’s Bury The Moon and Olafur Arnalds Some Kind of Peace albums on repeat these days, in awe of their songwriting ability and constantly thinking how Iceland has managed to foster such amazing songwriting talent.
Interview by Alex Minnis
Don’t forget to follow our New Nordic Music Playlist on Spotify and discover more of the fantastic artists we have spoken to over the years!