Eva may be Iceland’s first band that has ever been charged for inappropriate lyrics. Most likely the world’s first band to be charged for vagina propaganda. We spoke to band members Vala Höskuldsdóttir and Sigríður Eir Zophoníasardóttir about their new record set to hits stores in Iceland in November. How a theatrical background has influenced their music career. And the charges which they’re both very proud of.
Congratulations on the new (still untitled) album!
Sigga (a.k.a. Sigríður): “Thank you so much. Ever since we first started playing together a year and a half ago – playing in band was an old dream come true for both of us – we’ve wanted to make an album. So that’s also been a dream of ours for a long time and now that dream is finally becoming a reality. I don’t know what more we can do with our lives.”
And your music, how would you categorise it?
Vala: “Hmmm…The question of genre is something we find difficult to answer, simply because we don’t really know where we belong. In theory we are a punk band. We like to break the rules. Imperfection is a goal for us. And I guess our lyrics are punk like. So I guess our music would probably be called pop or folk music.”
Sigga: “And the new album could be described as feminist queer indie pop with a touch of country punk.” Smiles.
Vala: “It may seem mainstream.”
Sigga: “But because we also consider ourselves a theater collective and a political movement the album is in a certain way provocative and radical.”
So you’re also a theatre collective?
Sigga: “Yes, we both have backgrounds in theater. Actually met in the same class at The Arts Academy and both graduated from there as performance artists a year ago.”
Vala: “Since then we’ve had the privilege of working together as a band and have been making music for theater.”
Sigga: “For us that was like coming home. I think it’s the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had.”
Do you mean that you combine the two art forms?
Sigga: “When we write songs, in some ways we use the same methods in theater making. First we decide on a subject. Then we use writing improv and write down everything that comes to mind considering that subject. Then, usually I try out some chords on the guitar. We improvise some melody on top. Untill we find something we like. It’s proven to be a very effective way. Wether its due to the method or the way we work together.
Vala: “This is the best collaboration that I’ve ever had. And I think that is a huge key to all of this.”
“He’s probably just like most people who’re either prejudiced, not enlightened enough or scared of the changes happening in the world.” – Sigga
The subjects of your songs, lets talk about that.
Vala: “Well, when we started the band one of our goals was to make songs about things that are rarely the subject of songs but should be. Like the song Viðbein (e. Collarbone). Sigga loves collar bones. Actually she has a bit of a fetish for them. So we decided that there should be a song about collar bones. It’s also a lesbian love song, like so many of our songs. We also have songs like The Nose, Introvert and The Blood Song – which is about menstruating.”
Collarbones and blood. Now that does sound provocative.
Vala: “When we performed on the big stage after the Reykjavík Pride last year there was actually this guy, musician Gylfi Ægisson, who charged us for vagina propaganda. Apparently he didn’t like one of our songs called Hver er kallinn or Who is the man?”
Sigga: “It must be stated that he wasn’t even there. But none the less he brought charges agains the whole parade, because he heard that some men had been kissing each other and some inappropriate behavior went on. So his case was just built on rumours. And we became part of it. The first time I hear about an Icelandic musician being charged for his lyrics.”
Vala: “Vagina propaganda! It’s probably the most amazing thing you can ever be charged for!”
Why did he find the song so offensive?
Sigga: “I don’t know. He’s probably just like most people who’re either prejudiced, not enlightened enough or scared of the changes happening in the world. How we’re becoming more and more open and care-free. That must be scary to face for an old man, who probably just wants to have things the way they’ve always been.”
Do you think he would have reacted differently if you were two guys singing about women and collar bones?
Sigga: “Yes, definitely. His reaction has everything to do with our homosexuality. He said so himself. He doesn’t believe it’s a healthy “lifestyle” and thinks queer people are a bad influence on children. That we’re pedophiles. So he would most definitely be very angry to know that I’m pregnant now.” Giggles.
Vala: “The scary thing about all of this was seeing how many people backed him up in his nonsense. In a few days he had hundreds and then thousands of likes and followers of his Facebook page. That’s the thing we have to worry about. Which is one of the reasons why we’re a band and why we do what we do.”
So now you’ve landed yourselves on a list with the likes of The Beatles, Elvis and U2 whose songs have also been deemed inappropriate.
Sigga: “Hehe. It’s a good crowd we are in.”
Vala. “And for the record, we’re very proud of the charges.”
Going back to the record, it won’t be out till November. So meanwhile where can we see you guys perform?
Sigga: “We’ve just started fundraising for the record on Karolina Fund and while that’s going on we’ll have pop-up concerts every week.”
Vala: “They might take place in kindergartens, elevators or even on traffic islands. Just wherever we feel like.”
Sigga: “Advertised within 24 hour notice on our Facebook page.”
Vala: “And luckily for everyone, there won’t be any admission fee! Yeah!”
Thats great to hear, and its been fun chatting. Any final words?
Sigga: “I cant think of any better final words than please go to our Karolina Fund page and help us make our dream of a record come true.”
Vala: “By doing that you are fighting with us for equality. Fighting against prejudice. So we can enlighten our friend Gylfi and his allies.”