An Interview with GRÓA
As we enjoyed a gorgeous Washington, D.C. sunset from Songbyrd Music House’s outdoor patio, a group of particularly edgy individuals sat down at the table next to us. We had assumed an Icelandic punk concert would naturally draw an audience of eclectic people, but we never imagined that this effortlessly suave group would actually turn out to be GRÓA, the night’s performers. GRÓA’s stage presence was a sharp turn from the relaxed demeanors we observed outside. GRÓA screamed into the microphone, jumped around on stage, and moshed through the audience, embracing the District’s long legacy of punk music and pushing conventional norms of music and art. After their set, we got the chance to sit down with GRÓA and discuss music, cultural exchange, and more. Annika : Thank you so much for this interview—your show was phenomenal! To start off, how did you get into music and how did you form as a group? GRÓA: Some of us took classical piano classes in our childhood. Some of our parents also played a lot of music when we were younger. We formed quite naturally. We had been friends and sisters so we have been playing around since we were kids and then we just started playing music super young and formed this band about five years ago. Annika: What would you say inspires your sound as artists? Classical to [post] punk is quite a shift, what inspired you to move in that direction? GRÓA: Probably just the environment in Iceland, the people around us, and just…life in general. Kind of just an energy release, and playing around, doing something fun. For us, playing together is just what happened. We were like, “How do we feel? How do we put it into tones?” And then it evolved. We listened to more music, and we were inspired by the community in Reykjavík, like the grassroots scene. Annika: Are there any music artists that inspire your sound? GRÓA: Yeah, definitely! Everything can be an inspiration, in a way. There’s some free jazz music and some super experimental electronic music or like drum music that can all inspire you. You can take out what you like and what you connect your emotions with. Camille: Do you have any artists that you’re very into right now? GRÓA : Some classic post-punk bands, like Fugazi and Sonic Youth. We’ve been loving Alabaster DePlume; he’s a great saxophone player. Good vocals as well. We’ve also been listening to this one Mexican song—it’s a trap song. This one taxi driver put this on at like four o’clock in the morning on the way to the Prague airport, and we were like, “What is this? Why is this the only song he could have put on that would have made sense for this?” So we always play it, but only when we are in a taxi. We ask if we can connect to aux in the car and then play this one song. It’s an inspiration for sure. Annika: To switch it up a bit, what does bringing Nordic culture to the United States through music and art mean to you? GRÓA: It’s crazy to have this opportunity to travel and play in general—it’s just absurd in a way. Seeing people enjoy the music is magnificent, but I don’t think we represent the culture. Maybe we represent the grassroots in Iceland. When you google “Icelandic music” it’s not the same—but there are so many cool things happening in the grassroots in Iceland, it’s crazy. Just look it up! Annika: How would you describe your music in three words? GRÓA: Energy, bombastic, túrbó. Camille: What does that mean, “túrbó”? GRÓA: It’s like…turbo mode. Like in a car. RRRRRRRRR! Camille: Oh!! Also, is it your first time playing in the U.S.? Are you going to play anywhere else while you’re here? GRÓA: We’re going to play in Seattle in October. We’re super excited about that—we’ve heard many good things about the city. It’ll be good to start getting to know the tip of the iceberg. But it’s not our first time playing. We played in Maine and New York. And we played in Chicago two weeks ago, too. Camille: Amazing. Thank you guys so much! GRÓA : Thank you! If you couldn’t make it to Seattle to see GRÓA live, you can listen to their two albums on most streaming services or plan your next trip to Iceland to catch them in concert! Annika is a junior in the SFS trying to be as effortlessly cool as GRÓA. Annika is also one of the INDY’s commentary editors. Camille is a sophomore in the College double majoring in English and Justice & Peace Studies and minoring in Art History (tentatively).