Philosophy, Paris, theater and time-disability… Special interview with Jara!

A few months ago, right after release of Hope single I’ve been talking to Jara about her new album, artistic plans and projects. I wanted to publish this interview before the album release at the beginning of 2013. However the process took a bit longer. Today we know that the album will be out next month and Jara just released her new single – Eyes of moonlight. So it’s the perfect time to get back to the interview. Jara is unusual artist, involved in many music and artistic projects. I hope that her new album will be out in near future as we all are waiting for more of her music.

Bartek: Helo Jara, how are you doing lately?

Jara: Halló Bartek, very well, thank you, it´s snowing here in Reykjavík today, just a bit.

Bartek: Let me start with the question about „Hope”, your new song which all the fans have already heard on your bandcamp. It is the first single from your new album. Why did you choose that song for the 1st one to share with the World?

Jara: Well, there are a couple of reasons. It will be the first track of the album and kind of thematically sets the stage for the rest. Within it, lyrically, is hidden the blueprint for the world of the album. The darkness and the light, sadness and hope. The album, as I see it, takes the listener on a trip through the emotional landscapes we all go through at some point with a brief stopover in Chateu Marmont in Hollywood. Also, it´s a pretty happy song.

Bartek: „Hope” is very positive in the musical layer. However, the lyrics are about the opposites. Is this corresponding with you and your character?

Jara: Yes and no. My moods change all the time, like the icelandic weather.. But this song is not really on a personal level, but more on a collective level. The concept is maybe not a typical pop song one but I wanted to write a song about the human condition. The philosopher in me meeting the musician. Because in the end nobody can escape the big drama of life. One of the things that inspired the lyrics for Hope was this art project called post secret ( ) what struck me is that the secrets that people were sharing, their deepest, darkest secrets, were pretty much the same secrets. And then there is the idea that we need to redream the world which comes from an essay by the nigerian author Ben Okri, one of my favorites. This idea that the world is nothing but a collective dream that we need to re-dream together. And this re-dream idea comes up in three songs (the other two are called Barceloneta and Dance double) so you could say that I´m obsessing a bit with it..

Bartek: How important are the lyrics for you? Do you prefer writing/singing in English or maybe we can expect a few Icelandic songs on your forthcoming album?

Jara: Lyrics are important, but the music is more important. The lyrics almost always come after the music and I let the music control what direction the lyrics take. So sometimes they take me to unexpected destinations. I write both in english and icelandic but on this album all the songs will be in english except for the instrumental one. It came out of a period in my life that I was speaking english everyday and only reading books in english. But I´ve got some icelandic ones that I will probably release after this album.

Bartek: „Hope” sounds great and that’s a promise for the new album. I know, that you’ve been working on it with guys from Hjálmar – Guðmundur Kristinn Jónsson and Sigurður Guðmundsson. Could you tell us how this cooperation worked out and how did they influenced the whole record?

Jara: Well I mostly worked with Siggi (Sigurður Guðmundsson), Kiddi (Guðmundur Kristinn Jónsson) just came in for the mixing of Hope, for one evening. I contacted Siggi to get him to co-produce and engineer the songs with me. Some of the songs were pretty much ready when we started working together, Hope was one of them, he just helped me to make it sound much better and changed the drums a bit. And that was true for a few of the songs and then for others we reworked from scratch. Some of them changed a lot in that process. Especially one called Selfdestructionism and/or the Spanish Fly, that went from a rock song with some spanish influence to a flamenco-dub song. Is that a new genre? That was definitely a Hjálmar influence.

Bartek: And how long have you been working on this album? I mean all the ideas and lyrics, not only recording…?

Jara: A long time… haha.. I have no idea anymore. I am very bad with time. It takes a lot of effort for me to remember when something happened, or how long ago. You could call it a time-disability. But a few years, definitely.

Bartek: You are definitely not the newbie on the Icelandc music scene. You’ve got musical education and experience, playing and recording for years but it’s quite hard to find the info about you. You seem to be quite mysterious artist. Who really is Jara?

Jara: I have no idea. It changes all the time. And I´m a bit of a loner as well. And my new album definitely reflects that.

Bartek: A few years ago (in 2008) you’ve recorded „Dansaðu við mig” LP. It’s the soundtrack to the theatre play with the same name. It’s a very good album with my favourite song „Lokalagið – Eg var á leiðinni til þín”. You willingly participate in different artistic projects?

Jara: Yes, I love to. As long as the project is interesting. I especially love theater and film. And I´ve been very lucky with my co-conspirators. I seem to get new challenges every time. And I don´t like repeating myself, so that´s perfect.

Bartek: So with all this not strictly musical projects… Last year you’ve played a main role in Salma Cheddadi movie „Sweet Viking”. It’s the story about your trip to your sick father, but actually it’s very personal document about you and your inner world (the movie has gained several prizes, including the prize for the best music soundtrack at Côté Court Festival). Where this idea came from and how did you feel working on such a personal movie?

Jara: I loved doing it. It was Salma´s idea, I met her in a party in Paris for new years a and then she contacted me a few months later with this idea. And it is a mixture of fact and fiction so it´s not too personal. We took a lot of poetic licence.

Bartek: Let’s go back to your latest single – „Hope”. It comes with a video, at which you’ve been working with Polish stylist and designer Agnieszka Baranowska. So there is a Polish accent in your work! How does it happen?

Jara: I´ve just been blessed with a few very good polish friends. Me and Agnieszka go back a long time (I don´t know how long, the time-disability) I met her in Paris as well, I seem to meet a lot of people in Paris. And it just happens to be that I think she is the best stylist in Iceland and one of the best in the world. She´s got a very strong vision of her own that I love. Hopefully I will make another video with a polish director, also a girl. But we´ll see, it´s still only in the discussion stage.

Bartek: Your album will probably be released at the beginning of 2013 and I know you’ve started rehearsals with the band. So, can we expect to see you on tour in 2013? Maybe you’ll visit Poland?

Jara: I have just started to plan the touring so I don´t know that right now. But I would love to go to Poland. It´s such a beautiful country, I´ve been wanting to go there for a while. And besides, all the polish people I´ve gotten to know here in Iceland are really nice people.

Bartek: Jara, thank you very much for this chat. We’re waiting for your album and to hear any good news from you! See you!

Jara: Thank you too! Hope to see you soon!


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