Out in the quiet countryside, embraced by mountains, lives one of Iceland’s most beloved musicians. Lay Low lives in a small house she’s giving a new paint job this summer. She enjoys the solitude and feeds of the creative energy of her surroundings as she works on three new albums.
Since a little girl she wanted to lay low (pun intended), not seeking attention. For years she played the bass in a church band and felt comfortable in the background doing her own thing. Series of challenges in her personal life led to a spark in her creativity and she posted an original song on MySpace. A music producer spotted her talent and quickly Lay Low was standing in the spotlight.
“It all happened so fast and singing live terrified me. I didn’t feel up for the challenge since I wasn’t a trained singer. I was haunted by the thought of quitting, but I kept at it. Today I’m grateful that I didn’t give up since performing is something I really enjoy,” says Lay Low.
The strong presence and the sincerity in her voice is a key factor in her versatile charm and anyone who’s seen Lay Low give a live performance will probably find it hard to believe that her singing was the root of her insecurities. So the question of courage arises. Where did it come from?
“I started to write music in response of dramatic events in my life. I was divorcing my husband and at the same time trying to find myself. Furthermore I had been fighting a serious nerve disease and a brain tumor which I’ve fully recovered from. For the longest time I woke up in the morning just thinking how lucky I was to be alive. It’s spooky to think back on this time now and sometimes it feels unreal, although I know this strongly affected how I grew as a person. My recovery is a true miracle, perhaps I’ve earned it after all the years I spent at the church,” Lay Low jokes.
As a teenager Lay Low joined a church band as a bass player playing religious pop music.
“I guess I don’t come from a traditional background in music, although I did study piano until my teen brain got bored and gave up, which I still regret. I picked up the bass instead and played with the church band twice a week, for a few years. It was precious time for me and a great learning experience. There was no pressure to perform perfectly and I could learn and grow as a musician at my own pace in the background where I felt quite at home.”
“For the longest time I woke up in the morning just thinking how lucky I was to be alive. It’s spooky to think back on this time now and sometimes it feels unreal…”
She’s left the church since, and doesn’t consider herself a very religious person. “I guess I have my own beliefs, and I’m truly grateful for my time at the church.”
The jump from being a bass player in a church to a renowned musician has been a steep learning curve, which Lay Low has embraced. “I didn’t even know how to control my own voice in the beginning so I had no choice but to learn, and learn fast.” The last record she made, Talking About the Weather, was the first one she did all by herself.
“I’ve never had such a hard time finishing an album. I would go to bed at night feeling pleased with myself, only to wake up the next morning doubting everything I did the day before. Sometimes I was way off track. I learned that sometimes it’s best to pick up the phone and get a little help from my friends. I’m lucky to be surrounded by talented people, specially since I still feel like a beginner.”
When writing music, Lay Low says the lyrics come last. “I was never the type who wrote poetry and this is another thing that I just had to learn how to do. It doesn’t come naturally to me and sometimes I just have to wait for the lyrics to come to me.” One of the three albums she’s working on now features Lay Low’s original music and lyrics, another one music she’s working with Benny Crespo’s Gang (a rock band she’s in) and the third features poems by Icelandic women, similar to the one she made in 2011 called Brostinn strengur. “The poems I chose are the one’s that I can relate to, and that’s how I can pair my own voice to theirs and interpret them with music. I’m no expert on poetry but I’m strongly drawn to it.”
When Lay Low is not touring (she just got back from a tour around Europe where one critic called her voice beautiful and smooth – with a depth that has to be heard in person to be fully appreciated), she keeps to herself at her house in Ölfus, in the southern region of Iceland. There she writes her music and reads poetry as the wind dances in the long grass, and the looming mountains gaze into the distance. Lay Low is humbled by her destiny and takes her opportunities seriously. Lucky for us, the path she’s been put on leads to our hearts.
- Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir better known by her stage name and alter ego, Lay Low.
- Her music combines elements of blues, folk and country.
- Her debut album, Please Don’t Hate Me, went gold only two months after its release.
The following year she was nominated for four of the 2006 Icelandic Music Awards, winning two; Best female singer and best album cover. She was also voted by the nation through phone election as the most popular artist of 2006.
- She performed songs for the Baltasar Kormákur film Brúðguminn (e. Bridegroom).
- In 2009 Lay Low took on her first film role in December, a movie by Hilmar Oddsson.
- In 2012, Lay Low supported Of Monsters and Men on their United States tour.
- All in all she has released seven albums, four singles and an album with Benny Crespo’s Gang.
Source: wikipedia.org and Lay Low’s official website.