Samaris – Black Lights
Available on CD and Vinyl
Samaris – Black Lights
9 track album on CD and vinyl.
Written and recorded over a year across Berlin, Reykjavik and Ireland, Black Lights is the Icelandic trio’s most fully realised and accessible record yet – sung for the first time entirely in English and headed up by gorgeous lead-off single ‘Wanted 2 Say’.
Black Lights is a reflection on both the expanded horizons afforded by a year of experiences on the road following the release of 2014’s Silkidrangar, a period of change and not a little emotional turmoil for all three band members.
The way the new album came together reflects the changing personal circumstances of the group over the last year. All are now based in separate cities: Þórður Kári Steinþórsson (aka Doddi – programming) relocating to Berlin to take part in the city’s burgeoning techno scene, Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir (clarinet) to The Hague to study a specialised Sonology course and Jófríður Ákadóttir (voice) footloose, traveling to experience new places and the musical cultures within them.
Within months of forming in their teens in Reykjavik in 2011, Samaris had won both the Icelandic Músíktilraunir and Kraumur Award. The release of their two Icelandic EPs as the eponymous, Samaris in summer 2013 served as their first introduction to the wider world. “We want people to experience something they haven’t experienced before,” they told a curious Dazed & Confused, and once Silkidrangar – their debut LP proper – had dropped, the original aspiration of “just wearing funny costumes and thinking maybe we could get a gig in a bar in Reykjavik” became distant memory as Samaris took their hypnotising show round the world taking in Roskilde, Green Man, Sónar, Reeperbahn, Longitude and All Tomorrow’s Parties.
The continuous travel, and playing shows in different, unfamiliar places—from packed nightclubs in some of the world’s biggest cities, to large-scale open-air festivals in front of crowds of thousands—was eye-opening for the young Icelandic trio. It culminated in a deepened musical understanding, and a sibling-like personal connection. All of this experience is audible on their second studio album, Black Lights.
“Black Lights comes from a wider context than the first album,” says Jófríður, “which was very much an ode to Iceland. It’s the result of all the travelling and playing. It’s much more upbeat, full of life, driven. People couldn’t really dance to the older, slower songs… but sometimes they would anyway. We played a show in the north of Italy—it was like a discotheque in the 80s. People were going insane, like they’d never heard a band like us before. It was such a good experience. It was funny, and surreal, and beautiful, all at once.”
At some point during their travels, the decision was made to switch to English language lyrics. Indeed, the album’s opening track, ‘Wanted 2 Say,’ is a “coming out” of sorts, in which Jófríður seems happy to be articulating herself to the band’s growing international audience.
“We just thought: ‘Fuck it, let’s just write lyrics. We can do it,’” says Jófríður. “Wanted 2 Say actually started out as my thoughts about Iceland and the nature, how it’s our most precious thing—you know that cliché! But the theme of that song became more about us writing and expressing our thoughts in English. We wrote a lot of lyrics about love, and life, and how confusing and complicated it all is. So that’s a theme.”
The resulting album is an exciting, invigorated new Samaris who—perhaps ironically, given the shift away from their native tongue—are expressing themselves more fluently than ever before. And they’re no longer an unknown quantity: this time, the world is waiting.