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Earlier this year, Margrét Rán, the lesbian lead-singer of Iceland’s techno pop trio Vök was honored as female singer and songwriter of the year at the Icelandic Music Awards for her work on the band’s 2019 album In the Dark.
The ethereal music of Rán, Einar Stefánsson, and Bergur Dagbjartsson is as light and atmospheric as steam rising from Iceland’s only floating geothermal pools, Vök Baths (below).
Situated on Lake Urriðavatn in east Iceland, Vök Baths has pools floating on the lake, and hot pools overlooking it, and rather than being the inspiration for the band’s name it was named in their honor.
Out Traveler spoke with Rán on the eve of the band's participation in Live From Reykjavík, the Iceland music festival streaming Friday and Saturday, Novemenber 13th and 14th. Of Monsters and Men, Vök, and Hatari all perform this Saturday, November 14th at the streaming music festival Live From Reykjavík.
Congratulations on winning the singer and songwriter of the year at Icelandic Music Awards 2020! Is that a milestone for a queer artist or have previously out singers won this?
Thank you! Yes, it’s a big milestone for me. It's great to get an award for something you create and share with the world — you never really know what to expect when you create something! It was a great feeling to have my album so well-received here in Iceland. I think I am the second queer artist to get “female singer of the year,” which is quite cool!
Did being LGBTQ in Iceland influence your music? If so, how?
Yes, I write about my love life quite openly and I've only ever lived in Iceland. Being gay in Iceland has played a big part in my life. Break-ups are great for songwriting and inspiration, and that was a big influence for our last album. I was in an unhappy relationship for a couple of years with a girl and had broken it off while I was writing that album.
Your 2019 album was award-winning, can you tell us about the album coming out next year?
Well I’m happy to tell you that the next album is actually about me coming out as a teenager, being free and dealing with issues that come with discovering your sexuality (like most of us do when being a teenager). I’m excited to share it with you next year!
How is performing for virtual or digital festivals different than in person?
I enjoy performing in person a lot more! I know that performing virtually is currently one of the only ways to be able to have shows, and I'm happy that we’re finding ways to move on and creating opportunities for artists, but for me it's all about the energy in the room. I give the audience energy and they give me energy in return. That is the beauty in live performances. You don’t really feel that in the digital world.
Iceland is one of the least populated European nations — why does the country produce so many great musical artists?
I guess it’s because we have a lot of time and space for creativity. For the majority of the year, the weather is pretty bad over here and I think this is why we have time to look inwards and express our creative selves. The nature in Iceland is also quite unique and I’m sure that plays a key part. Even in the city (Reykjavik [below]) you are constantly surrounded by a beautiful and dramatic landscape and that can be quite inspirational.