Salka stops mid-sentence – holds her hand up to halt the conversation for a moment, circling back to the idea that Reykjavíkurdætur’s feminist politics make them radical. “It would be very good if you could put in the interview that it would be very unusual not to be a feminist band. We get asked this a lot. And it makes no sense not to be a feminist. It feels weird to me that people label us as a feminist band; it bothers me.” She describes an interview at Eurosonic festival, where a journalist spent forty minutes interviewing them without once asking about the music. “I was like, ‘we have sat in an interview for 40 minutes now as a band that is playing at this music festival and you have not asked us about one song, or anything concerning that we are artists composing and writing lyrics and performing and thinking about that a lot. We have been working as musicians for almost four years and you haven’t asked us a single thing about that. To me that’s very unfeminist.’”
Katrín nods. “Every band should be a feminist band. Unless they are like ‘we hate women.’ We didn’t think, ‘oh we’re going to be a feminist band’, but we’re many women, we’re being loud in a male dominated space, talking about things we’re unhappy about – it was the audience and media that labelled us as feminist.”
Reykjavíkurdætur’s determination to do music on their own terms, and the wit and humour with which they approach their work is obvious in the energy of the sound – even though I can’t understand the lyrics. Not that comprehension necessarily matters to the girls. Their Facebook page has the tag “shlengideng”, a made-up nonsense word that captures the spirit with which they approach performance. “Who came up with shlengideng?” Salka asks. “Kolfinna? Because when we started rapping none of us had been doing it prior so we were all really bad at it. Often we would forget lyrics and stuff so we’d be like ‘shlengidengydeng, shlengidengy dang dang dang.’ So that’s why I think the webpage is called that. We can’t change it!”
Now though, they are no longer amateurs. The girls have honed their lyrics, content and flow to a place they feel proud of. The abrasive Icelandic language coupled with the rhythmic pace of the delivery is impressive; and it’s easy to see how Reykjavíkurdætur have started to break out on the international scene. I ask whether there is any pressure to perform in English now that so many of their bookings are abroad.
“We’ve been told you have to start rapping in English, so you can go to the States and stuff,” Salka explains. “So it’s like, yeah, and then we’re like maybe we should mix it up and stuff. But it’s rapping. And it’s playing with words. We’re so good at that in Icelandic.” She looks me straight in the eyes. “Seriously. You should hear us rap Icelandic, we’re so good. So it’s so much easier for us to do it like that. We can do much more, it’s more clever.”