Hafdis gets ready to rock and roll as she heads back to Portsmouth
By her own admission, Icelandic singer Hafdis Huld is not very rock and roll.
It’s only towards the end of her chat with The Guide that she suddenly recalls her last gig in Portsmouth – she played a show at the Reykjavik 101 cafe in Southsea.
‘I remember that gig very clearly because I played it with a broken finger,’ she says on the phone from her home near Reykjavik.
‘I broke my finger on the way down to that gig. I just thought right at the end of the interview it was getting a bit twee, so I thought I would get out my most rock’n’roll story.
‘If we leave out I was playing the ukelele – imagine I was playing the electric guitar with a broken finger – that’s pretty rock ’n’ roll, right?’
This self-deprecating tale is typical of Hafdis, who first tasted a modicum of success during the ’90s with electronic collective Gus Gus, which she joined in her mid-teens. She left them to pursue her own career, writing singles with electronica stars FC Kahuna, guesting on a Tricky album and various others along the way.
It wasn’t until 2006 that her debut solo album, Dirty Paper Cup, took her in a more folk-pop direction.
‘I like telling stories, I come to the writing process from a very different point of view – electronic music often starts with the groove and then they add the words later, but I write music completely the opposite way.
‘I start writing stories that I then turn into lyrics or poetry and then I put music to the words that I think fit the stories.
‘Doing a little bit of electronic music with other people makes me enjoy the music I do more because it’s so different. It’s almost like a different art form. I knew when I started doing my solo albums I wanted it to be about people’s stories and I’ve stuck to that ever since.
‘Since I started doing this solo stuff it’s very honest, you can look at my albums and you can see where I was in my life – it’s even interesting for me to look back.’
She is currently finishing her fourth album, the follow-up to 2014’s Home.
She says: ‘I think it fits in well with my other albums, it’s got elements of all three previous albums on it, but it’s also got a bigger sound. It sounds... happier.
‘I don’t know why. I was just listening to it - maybe it’s a different kind of happy, a content happy. Things are good for me. It’s like a theme running through the album – I’ve just selected a title and it’s going to be called Dare To Dream Small.’
Explaining the album’s theme, she continues: ‘Sometimes it’s okay to have realistic dreams and want something that’s enough for you, and when you reach that place it’s easier to be happy.
‘And also with social media, you have to take pictures of your beautiful dinner and how far you run and what you’ve remodelled – but if your dream is just to have enough for you and yours, that’s okay. I was in that kind of mindset when I wrote this album, I think that’s why it sounds happy to me.’
She’s followed through on this ethos with her approach to her own social media profile.
‘I used to tour a lot and I don’t so much any more, it’s not ideal for my little ones. but it gives me a way of staying in touch with people, I didn’t like it as much until I realised I could just be me.
‘I’m not good at selfies – that pouty face you’re supposed to pull, I can’t do it!
‘When I realised it doesn’t have to be random fruit, sportswear and lipstick, it’s fine. If people want to see some picture of snow and chickens with a bit of music thrown in, then they’ll follow me. Be yourself!’
Part of this change in outlook is down to parenthood – Hafdis had a daughter in 2012.
‘That does change you. I know that’s clichéd, but suddenly all the things you thought were important, you realise they weren’t really – if they’re smiling and having fun then everything’s good.
‘When you’ve only got yourself to think about, there’s pressure to do more, and do bigger things and all that.
‘But when you become a parent you want a safe place where they’re happy and you’ve got a good life with the chickens, the dog, and the cat.’
Ah yes, the chickens. Her family’s clutch of chickens have become minor social media stars.
‘Oh, they have a fan club – but they’re pretty fabulous chickens. They’ve got their little heated house at the back of the garden. They come to the front window and demand food. My daughter was given this rabbit at the petting zoo, so now we’ve got a rabbit as well.
‘They come to the window hoping for some leftover cheesecake - that’s my reality these days.’
There are certainly worse ways to live.
The Wave Maiden, Southsea
Thursday, April 6
Friday, April 7