Stefanía Pálsdóttir: “I choose to spend my energy and obsessions on art instead of people”
Perhaps the first impression you have of the Icelandic experimental composer, audio engineer and vocalist Stefanía Pálsdóttir will be the same as mine: strangeness and, at the same time, curiosity. After all, both in her look – with deep, somewhat lascivious eyes – and in her compositions, Stefanía is authentic enough to let the best expression of her inner self flow, even if she runs the risk of not pleasing everyone.
Like her compatriot Björk, whose influence she admits on her work, Stefanía makes no commercial concessions to make her incredible new album “Monstermilk” more palatable for a larger audience. And yet it succeeds as she can be compared to some of the great female names of today, such as Lana Del Rey and, of course, Björk herself.
I think it’s very possible that Björk has influences on every Icelandic musician, her originality and creativity is very contagious.
With only 8 tracks (listen bellow), “Monstermilk” is a journey that is sometimes painful, and mostly pleasant, into the psyche of the singer, who, in addition to being a composer, also writes poems and studies philosophy. Thorny subjects like pain, depression, rejection, isolation, difficulty in communicating derived (or not) from his declared Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are treated with softness and despair in emblematic tracks like “Fuck the pain away”.
But don’t think that “Monstermilk” is one of those albums to be listened to exclusively in depressive moments. Stefanía’s successful experience with her post-punk band virgin orchestra gives a rocker tone to songs like “White Flag” where influences from bands like Joy Division are prominent and result in a style that I would call “dark-indie-folk.”
Although it also sounds strange, don’t worry. The more we dive into Stefanía’s seemingly inhospitable universe, the more we recognize ourselves in her fragility and the more we console ourselves with such beauty of a spirit dedicated to art: “I choose to spend my energy and obsessions on art instead of people. I can’t really help myself“, says the Icelandic artist.
2 5 Things about Stefanía Pálsdóttir
RC – Hi, Stefanía, how is it going around Iceland? First, it’s a pleasure to talk to you. It’s impossible not to start this interview talking about Björk. In addition to being another artist from Iceland, her influence on your work is huge. Tell us about the impact of her music on your new album.
SP – Hi! Thank you so much, I’m happy to be here. I think it’s very possible that Björk has influences on every Icelandic musician, her originality and creativity is very contagious. Also because we are from such a small island, it is very encouraging for everyone here seeing this wonderfully weird girl from this small island becoming such a huge artist. I think that many people feel like that if she can do it, so can you. Also, Björk and I are signed at the same label, Smekkleysa, and I feel so lucky being there along with so many other amazing artists.
RC – Let’s talk a little about the title of your album “Monstermilk”. Is it somehow a reference to Belle and Sebastian’s “Tigermilk”? What does monster milk mean?
SP – It is not, but it is derived from a phrase that my psychologist used to tell me: “Remember to feed the monster.” Meaning how important it is to channel your emotions and “struggles” so to say into a healthy and creative outlet instead of letting it eat you.
RC – Lyrically, “Monstermilk” is brutally honest about some of our inner struggles, especially those related to interpersonal relationships. In “Daddy’s song,” for example, you refer to a potential lover who looks a lot like your father. In “Fuck the pain away” you appropriate a phrase commonly used in a pop song to talk about a relationship that didn’t work out. In your opinion, has communication and, consequently, relationships become more difficult with the arrival of social media?
SP – Thank you, what a great question. I think that communication and connections to people have always been a struggle and always will. For me at least, since I have ADHD. Since I’m not really a people person I think social media is a fine improvement. Besides, I don’t really do relationships these days. I’m not really interested in that kind of “stuff” but I really enjoy reflecting on past and fictional relationships through music. I read a lot and speculate about people. I’m really interested in people but I don’t really “do them,” if that makes any sense. I choose to spend my energy and obsessions on art instead of people. I can’t really help myself.
RC- In your work, we perceive the almost artisanal work in relation to noises and sounds different from those we usually hear. Is providing a certain ambience for each track, as if it were a movie soundtrack, one of the goals of your work?
SP – Definitely. I love building a “sound world” for my art. I do a lot of sound design since I am studying New Media Composition at the University of Arts in Iceland, and also I have a degree in audio engineering. I think it’s a brilliant way to capture the “feeling” of what you want to say in that way, with this sound-world-building, just as much as with the actual lyrics and song structure. Like with literature, the surrounding and the world you create plays a huge role.
RC – Is there any chance of seeing you on stage in the coming months, especially in Brazil? By the way, what is your relationship with our country in terms of culture?
SP – I do not have any connection with Brazil or even South America, but if I would ever have the chance to play there with my solo stuff I would absolutely love to. My experimental post-punk band “virgin orchestra” has actually captured some attention in Brazil and who knows, maybe we will play there in 2023 and of course I would arrange for a solo show too!
Listen to Stefanía Pálsdóttir’s “Monstermilk”
So, tell us now what did you think about Stefanía Pálsdóttir new album on the comments bellow!