If you are looking for some original and surprising sounds you should definitely notice their name. Grúska Babúska has just released their unconventional debut album. I’ve decided to ask Harpa (one of the five girls in the band) about their music, inspirations and other things…
Bartek: Hi Harpa! How are you doing?
Harpa (Grúska Babúska): I´m doing great! We just go the news that Grúska Babúska „album” was chosen as the collective item of the month, at Record Collector Magazine, http://recordcollectormag.com/, which is amazing news!!!
Bartek: First of all I would like to ask about the band. I know that you all has completely different musical background. So how did it happened that you met and decided to make your own music together? Have you been playing together before Gruska Babuska?
Harpa: No, we hadn´t been playing together, and honestly we didn´t even know of each other….. at least not that we played and wrote music. We met where everybody meets in Iceland – at a bar. One joyful evening I overheard Guðrún Birna and Arndís talking about playing some music together (which surprised me! I had no idea they played). I asked them if they needed a keyboard player, I knew of a really good one. They said: „Oh, really?…. Who?”. I said: „well, me of course!”. After that there was no turning back and we found Dísa, our drummer, some months later, and luckily enough, she was willing to join ;)
It´s unfortunately often like this in Iceland – one doesn´t find out about girls and their musical talent that easily – until they make it or until you really get to know them. It really seems that there are not so many girls out there in music, but they sure are! They are just more discreet then the male rock and roll stars! :)
Bartek: I know that you and Arndís come from small fishing villages in the north of Iceland although you all live in Reykjavik right now. I wonder how the place where you’ve lived as a child, Reykjavik and Iceland in general affects your sensivity and creativity? Is your music inspired by Iceland in any way?
Harpa: Yes, I think ones music is definitely and of course inspired by where you live, where you grow up and where you find yourself at, as well as other inspirations and people that you meet on the way. In my case, I grew up with a lot of contrast in my life, as I´m sure many other Icelanders experience constantly….These being the tough and constantly changing nature and weather, the village life vs. the city life, my creative family, my diverse friends, the isolation, weird hopes and dreams. Therefore there were a lot of things that were normal to me, that maybe might have been abnormal to others, and I didn´t really understand until I bacame older.
Bartek: What are your other inspirations?
Harpa: People definitely, but also music and other art forms. I really like to experience things and art and places and I love everything that puts a smile on your face (well, who doesn´t!?:)).
In my mind you smile because you haven´t experienced something before – something is different, something is surprising, sweet and even maybe funny. That´s when it really hits you what art and music can do for you. If someone manages to give the same feeling and expression through their art, they have succeeded in my opinion….
Bartek: You sing in Icelandic. What are the subjects of your lyrics? Are they important for you or maybe it’s more like another instrument in your music?
Harpa: It´s both. The lyrics have grown more important after we started performing them live, which naturally happens, but really they just happened through a feeling or from the sense of the song and according to what mood the song put´s you in. The lyrics are not a clishé, and at the same time are not maybe typical deep lyrics, full of poetry or rhymes, but they are rather honest and simple and always with some kind of a meaning or story.
Bartek: I think Gruska Babuska is the excelent example of how to make a band, play original music and record your own album – fully independent. It was all possible when you succeeded raising money via Karolinafund. I guess it requires a lot of determination from the band. Do you think it is the future of music? Is it the best way to come out to the wide audience?
Harpa: Well, we think it´s at least a really honest way. And yes, it required a LOT OF determination from the band:) Weather it´s the best way, I don´t know, and I think that really depends on how you want to get your music out there and who you waht to hear it.
Some record labels are great, while others are not, and in our case we looked seriously and long for a good record label to represent our music and that might suit our goals and approach. We found one! The UK based indipendant label Static Caravan, which has been absolutely amazing and helped us a lot. So we didn´t release the album fully independent, even though we wrote it and recorded it independently, and played in the UK not so long ago.
So these two ways in music can easily hold hand in hand, at least in our case it really worked! Well, maybe it helps that we are all girls and we are pretty demanding and are used to taking things into our own hands and want to handle everything ourselves! ;)
Bartek: The next great thing is the way you’ve released the album. It’s not a cd but usb stick. And it also has a beautiful design corresponding to the name of your band. It seems that you think about the music in unconventional way. Am I right?
Harpa: Yes, that is a bit right. The music itself brings us (and others) into a babuska world of playful and wonky experiences, and it was very important to us that the packaging, the performances and the expression of all the art around the music would correspond that feeling.
Bartek: Is there any chance that we would see you live in Poland in the near future?
Harpa: Hopefully! We would love to come to Polland and play .:)
Bartek: Thank you very much for this interview and I hope to see you soon in Poland!