Sóley has apparently been through a lot since we first met in November of 2012 (which I’ll let her tell you about). At the time the Icelandic singer/songwriter was supporting Of Monsters and Men on tour, who had a sold out show at The Tower Theater. She was touring her debut full-length, We Sink (which I described as, “Whimsical in an otherworldly and delicately scary manner.”), which hit US shelves that September. Since then she played an exceptionally intimate headlining gig in 2013 inside the chapel of the First Unitarian Church.
Sóley’s second LP, Ask the Deep, hit stateside shelves this Tuesday, courtesy of Morr Music. Although the album doesn’t exactly see a new aesthetic for the singer/songwriter and pianist, it certainly sees her diving into even murkier, more morose, and ethereal waters with the help of a plethora of organs and synthesizers underscoring her already-very-eerie sonic storytelling. Last week she released her music video for “Halloween,” her latest single (and my personal favorite Ask the Deep track), which she confirms does work as a transition from her slightly more “playful” debut to the even-more existentially intense songs of her latest work.
Earlier this week Sóley took some time to catch me up on what inspired her latest sounds and, despite the fact that they tend to be on the much-darker side of things, she remains exceptionally smiley…
Izzy Cihak: Not to start with a huge question but, the last time we spoke was November of 2012, shortly after the release of your debut solo LP, We Sink, in the states; what have been the highlights of your career in those past two-and-a-half years?
Sóley: I was so lucky to be able to tour for two years after We Sink came out and I played beautiful venues for people who were so supportive of my music. I think I love the most how this all happened naturally.
Izzy: And what do you feel are the biggest differences between you as an artist when you released We Sink and the artist that wrote and recorded Ask the Deep, which was just released in the states?
Sóley: I’ve grown of course! On We Sink I was exploring my pop compositions and I was working on a project (making an LP) for the first time. Then I toured, then weird things happened, got pregnant, got all freaked out, but had a healthy, beautiful baby girl! So on the new album I felt like I had to write myself through a tough time. It’s good, now when I listen to it — I feel like it’s more like a healing music for me than for anybody else.
Izzy: The last time we talked you mentioned that you “still [didn’t] want to be called a singer,” but admitted that you really admired the way that Joanna Newsom used her voice and that you wanted to take some singing lessons. Is that something that you’ve done or are still interested in?
Sóley: I’ve taken one singing lesson! And I’m still not a singer, yes 🙂 But I think with every tour I do, I improve and I think right now I have a better control over my voice than two years ago.
Izzy: What would you consider to be the most significant influences behind Ask the Deep, whether musical influences or influences from other realms of art and life?
Sóley: First it was the sea. First I wanted to make an album about how deep and dark the sea is, but still very beautiful. But as I went further into the writing/recording process, things happened to me in real life so I had to work a bit with myself, my fear and my mind. I felt the best way was to write songs and lyrics. It didn’t really work for me to go to a psychologist; at least I didn’t find anyone who really understood my fear. So as I look back, I listen to this album and I feel like I’m a bit relieved that I did it like that, wrote an album about my fear. Again, very selfish!
Izzy: At the moment, do you have a particular track of Ask the Deep that you’re most fond of, whether one that’s most fun to play live or just that you’re most proud of? “Halloween” is one of my favorite songs of the year and I think is the perfect bridge between the beauty of your first LP and the beauty of Ask the Deep.
Sóley: Halloween is one of the first songs that I wrote for the album so that might be the reason 🙂 For a very long time “Halloween” was my favorite track but now I kinda like “Devil,” “Dreamers” and “Ævintýr” (probably because those are the last songs we are rehearsing for our live gigs). I think every time we re-hear a new song, that is my favorite, haha!
Izzy: Since this is a Philadelphia publication, I have to ask if you have any significant thoughts on the city. Touring your last LP you played a super huge show supporting Of Monsters and Men here and then a super intimate show headlining the chapel of the First Unitarian Church, both of which were quite cool in their own way.
Sóley: Yes, hmm. Everytime I’ve been to Philly I’ve stayed at the same house. In the house are two cats that have names I can’t remember but I’m a big animal fan. I don’t know if you can say that, animal fan? Anyways, I love animals. So that’s always nice, to party a bit after a show in a private house and pet a cat. Last time we were in Philly we went to a very interesting sandwich place. This sandwich place is tiny and since I don’t eat meat or dairy products it was a special experience for me to go. But I got a big, nice sandwich, with vegetables!
Izzy: You’re about to embark on a number of European dates. What can be expected of the live experience?
Sóley: Me and my band have been rehearsing the songs from Ask the Deep now for this upcoming tour. Some songs we’ve been playing since last November and some are just brand new arrangements. At least we are having fun rehearsing them, I’m really looking forward playing them for real people! 🙂
Izzy: And what do you have planned for the immediate future? Any chance of seeing you again in the US in the near future?
Sóley: I’m hoping to be able to come to the US, maybe this year. I’m working on it. I’ll let you know! I need to go pet some American cats soon! 🙂