Icelandic actress & singer-songwriter Silja Rós has been paving her way through the current music scene with her unique sound that infuses a variety of genres together to create something magical.
Since appearing on The Voice Iceland, Silja has released her debut album, which ended up being chosen as Icelandic National Radio Station’s, Rás2, “Album of the week”, & has released a string of incredible tracks that have won over listeners from across the globe.
Recently, Silja has released the brand new single “Stay Still” & has kindly taken the time to speak to Fierce & Fabulous Revolution about the release, along with getting to know from the artist behind the music.
Hello Silja, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. Can you start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself?
Silja: I’m an Icelandic singer-songwriter, actress and a scriptwriter currently based in Copenhagen. I grew up in the singer-songwriter scene in Iceland performing on venues like Café Rósenberg. I released my debut album in 2017 shortly after competing in The Voice Iceland. The album was chosen as “The album of the week” by Iceland’s National Radio Station Rás 2 and got great reviews.
During that time I lived in Los Angeles where I studied acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After I graduated I worked there as an actress and singer-songwriter. I loved LA, the industry there is exciting and big, full of other artists with big dreams so the energy there is magical.
When did you first discover your passion for music?
Silja: I was very young when I found my passion for music. I always loved singing and I think I was about 7 when I told my mom that I wanted to become a songwriter. As a kid I spent my free time writing songs and poetry in my room, but I told no-one about it since I felt it was a bit silly. When I look at those old songs and poems today they are indeed a bit silly and cute since I was so young and had no idea what I was doing. I started studying at The Reykjavík Academy of Singing and Vocal Arts when I was 14 years old and studied Classical Singing and Opera there for many years.
When I was 17 I won a songwriting competition in Iceland and after that I started performing live in the singer-songwriter scene in Iceland.Later on I got accepted into FÍH which is the highest rated Jazz school in Iceland and that’s when my style started changing a direction form the folk/indie towards RnB/Soul/Jazz.
I really found my voice in the jazz program and it truly did make me a better musician. Before that time I didn’t really think about the music theory behind the songs I was writing. I just allowed the songs to flow from my mind, without really thinking about it. I used simple chords and mostly focused on the melody and the lyrics that were driven by my feelings and emotions. Which is good, the songs become very truthful that way. But today I like mixing my emotions with music theory, I use a lot of jazz chords in my songs and I’m more aware of the structure, arrangement and the music theory behind my songs.
Have you always known that music was a career that you wanted to pursue?
Silja: Yes, to be honest I’ve always known what I wanted to do with my life and that is Music & Acting. I never changed my mind. I think it was pretty obvious to most people who met me as a kid that I would become an entertainer. I loved putting up shows, using my living room table as a stage.
How would you describe your musical style to someone unfamiliar with your work?
Silja: The album that I’m currently working on, my second album, is very influenced by RnB, Jazz, Soul and Pop. I would say my music fits in the RnB pop genre. I was very inspired by artists like Sabrina Claudio, Snoh Aalegra and even Billie Eilish when I was writing and arranging the songs.
I love live instruments, especially working with jazz musicians and I think it’s very important to allow my instrumentalists to have a little freedom with their performance on the songs. I might have some ideas about the arrangement but I always feel like the most magical things appear when the musicians are allowed to put their own fingerprint on the songs. My producers Whyrun & Slaemi are big in the Hip/hop and RnB scene in Iceland and I felt that it was also very important to allow them to put their fingerprint on the songs.
You recently released the brand new single “Stay Still”. How did the idea to create the song come together?
Silja: I wrote the song in 2018 at that time I was slowly moving more and more towards RnB music. It’s one of those songs that came easily to me, in the moment, I sat down in front of my piano and experimented with some jazzchords and started singing. The lyrics came easily and I didn’t have to edit them alot afterwards because they came from my heart, my truth.
The arrangement part of the song took a little longer. We experimented with a couple of versions before we landed on this one. And I’m very happy with the outcome. I love the piano & the guitar by Jakob Gunnarsson (pianist) & Magnus Dagsson (guitarist) that blends so magically to the beat.
What inspired the creative prosses behind this song?
Silja: I was influenced by jazz and RnB music. Then I just stayed in the moment and allowed the words to come out.
What does the song personally mean to you?
Silja: The song is about my strange relationship with stillness. I’ve always longed for stillness but at the same time it’s the one thing I fear the most in life, to stay still. I’ve always been a very active person and I feel the best when I’m very very busy. My mind never seems to be able to be quiet, I’m constantly thinking about million things at the same time, thinking about new things to create and I’ve never really seen it as a problem. In fact I actually do like it. My mental health is always the best when I’m busy and then whenever I slow down that’s when my anxiety kicks in.
I would say that I’m in general addicted to people and I hate being alone, I get my energy from other people. Therefore I love having someone to hold my hand through the scary search for stillness. That’s where the lyrics were born, in the roots of my truth. It’s a very personal song for me.
It wasn’t really until this year where I was able to find my stillness and I’m glad I found it before I released the song. This year has been unlike any other year for most of us and it’s very strange to say it but to me it’s actually been a good year. Of course there are a lot of things that have happened that are annoying, like not being able to perform live as much and having had to cancel or postpone so many gigs. But for me it has also been a year where great things started happening for me. I always try to find positivity in every situation that I am in. And this year has forced me to be in the present moment, forced me to stay still. First I was scared that my anxiety wouldn’t handle it. But surprisingly for me it was the opposite. Once the world stopped it was like I was able to stop and enjoy the stillness. I think I’m just very influenced by the tempo of the world. Iceland has always had a very fast tempo. People love being busy there, people are expected to be busy. And I think we all learned our lesson this year and how important it is to take some time to connect to your core, resetting your mindset.
If listeners could take away one message from this song, what would you like it to be?
Silja: To just take a breath and try to find your stillness, to be in the present moment. Stay still my loves it’s actually very nice ❤
Are there any further musical releases planned that you are able to tell us about?
Silja: I’m currently working on my second album “Stay Still” which will be released in springtime 2021. Until then I’ll release singles monthly starting from January. A music video to Stay Still is also in post production and will be released in the beginning of January.
The album has been supported & funded by Stef, The Icelandic Culture Ministry and Iceland’s leading radio station Bylgjan. I’m so grateful for their support!
Then I’ve also been writing a lot of new music that I’m creating with my boyfriend, guitarist & producer Magnus Dagsson. For the last year I’ve also been writing with Danish producers and songwriters which has been so much fun. I used to write everything by myself but now I enjoy writing with others, it’s just more fun having company from great artists and being able to share different ideas about each song.
I also work regularly as a songwriter for other artists. I’ve worked with artists like Future Lion, Rikardo, Magnus Dagsson, Unnar Sara Eldjárn and the French EDM band Darwin x Mainecoon that has been doing very good for the past year. I’ve written couple of songs with them that hopefully will be released soon.
It looks like 2021 will be a big year for me regarding releases both in the Music & the Acting world. So I just cross my fingers and hope that everything works out like planned.
What are some of the things you enjoy outside of music?
Silja: Well aside being a musician I am also an actress, scriptwriter and a 200 hr RYT certified hot yoga instructor. So these are my other passions in life. I also love painting, it’s where I find my peace of mind. But I would say I spend most of my time on music, acting and writing scripts. I also love drinking a good cup of tea with my friends or my family.
If you could perform a duet with anyone on the planet, who would you choose & why?
Silja: This is a tough one! If you would have asked me 5 years ago I would have said Damien Rice or Norah Jones. But today my answer has to be Jacob Collier or Theo Katzman. I have huge respect for them all as artists and songwriters. Jacob Collier is just a genius, his arrangements are beyond this world. Theo Katzman’s lyrics are like good poetry and his songwriting is amazing.
What was the first album you purchased & do you still listen to it now?
Silja: The first album I purchased or was given…I was about 5 years old was Britney Spears – Baby One More Time. And yes I still listen to it occasionally and I still know all the lyrics to it. I was also a big fan of Spice Girls. If you look at pictures of me when I was 5 years old I refused to smile and I only posed like Victoria Beckham.
What song do you always keep on your playlist & why?
Silja: Love is a Beautiful thing by Theo Katzman. To me it’s the best song and lyrics that have ever been written. It really touches my soul.
Finally, is there a message that you would like to share with the readers of Fierce & Fabulous Revolution?
Silja: Stay true to yourself, always listen to your heart. It knows the best.
You can check out “Stay Still” on Spotify below.