Music Tech Magazine

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE

The name of Ólafur Arnalds new album is Some Kind of Peace. We wish. Clearly fate took an ironic opportunity to intervene shortly before we had a chance to talk to him about both the new album and his approach to creativity more broadly: an earthquake shook Iceland right before this interview took place, prompting Ólafur’s opening exclamation of, “There’s a lot of energy in my body right now!”

That’s true, of course, for all sorts of reasons. Having reimagined the piano with his remarkable, semi-generative Stratus instrument, which has been exquisitely sampled and captured by Spitfire Audio, Ólafur sought to follow his 2018 LP Re:member with a new record that represents a sea change in how this musical perfectionist has decided to approach life going forward. His aim? To let his guard down. Here, we press Ólafur on what spurred such an approach and how he achieves his unique sound.

MT: Have the events of 2020 and the ultimate release of this new album led to a place of calm for you?

OA: Yes – or, at least, I’ve found a desire to search for that place. There’s been a shift in my mindset in terms of what I want. Whether I’ve found that calm? That’s probably a lifelong mission. I’ve realised that I’m more interested in telling or being part of stories rather than ‘doing a job’. I’ve pushed away projects that I was involved in to focus on art as personal expression.

MT: How much of the album itself existed before the pandemic and how much has been a reaction to it?

OA: About half of the album was written before the pandemic but everything was recorded and finished during those past few months. But I was already on a path before everything shut down, to concentrate on what is important in life: human connection. The pandemic confirms all that. If it teaches us anything, it’s the importance of human connection.

MT: It feels like the narrative arc of

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