OLÈNA is a french singer based in Reykjavik, Iceland.
We were lucky enough to speak with her and listen to her interesting production.
You’ll find out about her dreams, lifestyle, passion in what she does in this exclusive interview. Moreover, you’ll have the chance to experience her live shows at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival 2013 – Off Venue – or, if you can’t resist, listening to her Soundcloud. Discover this talented artist first on Reykjavik Boulevard!
Your first project, last project and future project: how would you describe them?
“Made in Hurt by heart” was my first solo project, it’s a collection of songs from the past, like a diary, a need of letting it go something like a spring cleaning to be able to move forward from what was going on (as it changes all the time).
It’s the immature part learning in the distance, sharing experiences is the best way to see a bigger picture isn’t it? The title of the album speaks for itself. The first way of creation is pain. Sharing your creation is a hard step but necessary. Reminds me of my first year in art school when I found so difficult to let people buy my work, I was more on the collecting part. After time and letting growing the good feeling of being appreciated, I could let other own pieces then.
“Made in Hurt by heart” is a precious music box were I put my juvenile me. It is selfish, awkward but with good intentions. I pushed the concept to the packaging having the object in a carton box with my friend Nathalie Talec art work that she had made not for this project but from her own art explanation. We met at a workshop that she was offering in my art school and we made fast connection. I started to perform for her, on her exhibitions. Her water color paintings were perfect images for my album. She generously let me use her work, she is one of the biggest encounters of my life.
Last project is related to me getting involved in the band ASONAT (Jonas Gudmundsson & Fannar Ásgrímsson).
Jonas came curious at one of my performance at Kaffibarinn in Reykjavik few years ago and was interested in my voice, quickly his band presented their project and I collaborated on three songs of their debut album “Love In Times Of Repetition”: we naturally kept in touch and created more together, at Airwaves 2012 they wanted to have me on stage, since then I tour with them! A fabulous match! There are always good vibes between us so we are keep on working together. Now ASONAT are in the making of their second album (due to be released in 2014) and I work with them on this new project too. After all this time, I feel more and more like I am one of ASONAT brigade: Fannar does appetizer, Jonas the main course and I am the dessert. We all love so much to eat!
I hope they will still be hooked on me cause it brings so much in my life to be trusted, I am a “Bric à Brac” cooking music maker and they are geniuses nerds and work fast, so fast that RUXPIN (Jonas Thor Gudmundsson) asked for participation on his latest project “This time We Go Together” to write lyrics and vocals of five songs: the album is out since May 2013. It’s a good influence for me and Jonas is proposing my voice for remixes that he did for others like for Zoon van Snook this year… To be involved in other projects in addition to mine is refreshing and gives me the opportunity to not get stuck on my own things, same way it is useful to find better ideas…
Future projects are in the making, I am working on my second solo album. I now know better what I am doing and it sounds different, maybe more like a fruit basket – different tastesbut still fruits, you know what i mean? – I never needed anyone, my own is enough: I’m happy like this “I AM” song on my first album, I am still very grounded but I’ve learned to open my heart so I can say I hurt people less then before with my strong determinate self. (Temper?)
The next album is like this. A part of this new work will be presented on Iceland Airwaves off venue this year.
I won’t say more now, stay tuned!
What do you find inspiring and how would you describe your lifestyle?
Inspiration is in every day life and there are special moments to explain them into a medium like music. Joy, happy moments, all those good feelings or experiences are the most difficult to explain. I create more when life cut my lungs that I cannot breath and the creation makes me happy again! Then I am able to focus on the joy that I have, that I’ve found… Inspiration is a mixture of everything we see, hear and test as we are influenced by all and everything around us. I don’t think that were I find inspiration is different then others. What is different is the way we perceive,translate and interpret it. In music we are attracted by what can reflect a little bit of us. And all we grow together with, influences us on our music making. All the strong women musicians of my teenage generation and the music taste of my parents inspired me. The culture and the origin are inspiring me. Any situation can inspire, I just have to be at the right place at the right time. I think it’s that easy. Translation is the big work. Lately some friends and family gives good food to my inspiration, I respect them so much and I am so happy I have them in my life. I am a lucky woman.
I’m addicted to patisserie and coffee but I love my body and I take care of it, so my craving for sweet is occasional and it makes me very happy. I believe that we need to eat a bit of everything that is “healthy”, cutting on something will make us loose good things from our souls. I want to be complete and stay happy. Just need to eat when I need and stop to eat when I’m satisfied. I have this habit to drink fresh juice everyday with vitamin D drops in it.
I love to have dinner out with my friends and burn the dance floor! I go out for special occasion mostly. I have period of time cocooning at home, I love it! Drop it all and be confit. Lonely moments are always good moments and a good propose to creation. So they are happy moments. Most of my friends are connected to food, design, fashion, styling, edition, music, photography, travel, heath care, contemporary art & hairstyling! It’s no coincidence! They are my life style and reflect a little bit of mine. I just go everyday with the flow on what I think is a good direction. What’s important it’s to know were you are in life, what level, and then you adjust your lifestyle.
What would you probably be today if you hadn’t followed your dreams of being a musician, or what is your actual dream?
I can still be anything I want. I just think that we are not really choosing what we are, it’s a long process to find it out. We do our best and it takes more or less time.
If i was not following my dream I would probably be leaving in Paris were I’d have finished my art school studies with good connections in the art industry. I dream a lot! I think I could work as a stylist, interior designer or maybe open a coffee shop and keep working on music. The best about styling, interior design and music is the traveling. I dream to travel a lot. It’s very nice to be a musician or anything else that you are craving for but it’s hard, so most of the time we work just to pay the rent. To me to be “something” is not a decision but it’s what you do about it that you have to decide.
Right now I want to visit Japan and New York City, so I will have to work a lot to make it happen!
Artists and events: can you tell us the most interesting that you’ve found/experienced in your career until now?
In 2009 I performed at the Contemporary Art Museum in Paris. The audience was silent and focused, which is not bad but puts on me much pressure: alone on stage with a video on a cinema screen on my back. The music was directed by the technical control room in front of me in the back of the auditorium. The act was supposed to be a art performance too. A good experience in front of 200 people. Iceland Airwaves off venue 2012 at 12 Tonar (showcase orgenized by Yuka Ogura) found the shop packed with Japanese crowd! Amazing listeners and grand satisfaction! Everyone wanted me to sign their album copy. I was supposed to perform three songs but we decided to go for a 40 min program. Back home I found posts and pictures from them on my Facebook page. I loved that moment speaking to them.
Traveling with ASONAT to Prague this summer was fun, sharing life and having always some tale to tell. Being together sharing the same experience. Even a day off in this beautiful city walking around up to the heal. Jonas started a game and all the way to the top we played it. We had the chance to know each other better. Fannar was more in the mood to have some fun after the concert visiting local bars: it was a great idea, as we ended up being spectators of the local flirting rules!
The place where you were born, the place where you live, the best place where you traveled with your work: can you tell us something that only you know to describe them?
The place that i was born is AUXERRE, L’Yonne in Burgundy (France), it’s a mix of old villages, forests, cultures and farms. I miss the trees and the special smell of that humid place. The place is a reflection of my family, my childhood and the innocence. Our village is named Linant-in Turny. I feel flowers on my head.
Reykjavik (Iceland) is the place where I lived for the past eight years. It’s as small as my originally french village but it’s the capital and that is probably why I’ve found it so charming. It’s so easy to live here, there is an incredible misunderstanding about this amazing quality of life here! Iceland is like out there in a bubble. Need to see nature? No problem just go! Wanna meet a friend? Just have a walk in the center and you will see five of them on your way and say hi to your consistence. Here I create my private habitat for long term hibernation.
Prague in Czech Republic, the combination of being in this beautiful city, feel the rural side of it and the evolution of the country on the same time. People hospitality, generosity and community living. Prague is to me like wearing jewelry. Paris in France, everything is there. Now when I go there is for doing what I love. It can be difficult to be suddenly pushed into the city crowd. But the architecture gives you romantic feelings, memory of stones. It’s magic! I feel that everything is possible there. Precious.
All images are Nathalie Talec & ADAGP © 2011/2012 – All rights reserved