Ólöf Arnalds is an Icelandic singer and multi-instrumentalist. Classically educated on the violin and self-taught on viola, guitar and charango, Ólöf’s most distinctive asset is, nonetheless, her voice. A voice of instantly captivating, spring water chasteness possessed of a magical, otherworldly quality that is simultaneously innocent yet ancient (“somewhere between a child and an old woman” according to Björk).
While she has been favorably compared with the likes of Vashti Bunyan and Judee Sill, Ólöf’s approach to making music remains highly individual: playful but intimate; accessible and uplifting, yet deeply personal and suffused with a timeless mystique that goes beyond the puckish inscrutability of her native tongue. Ólöf has also quickly proved herself as a magnetic, utterly self-assured stage performer, reliant as much on screwball humor, vaudevillian charm and even outright bawdiness, as much as the contrasting delicacy of her song delivery.
Ólöf’s acclaimed sophomore album, Innundir skinni includes both Ólöf’s first recorded songs delivered in English and her first duets – with Ragnar Kjartansson (Crazy Car) and Björk (Surrender). The album, which Pitchfork described as “a rich and musically complex experience,” was one of Uncut Magazine’s Top 50 albums of 2010 and the song “Madrid” was named iTunes UK’s World Song of the Year. The album also earned Ólöf a Songwriter of the Year gong at the Iceland Music Awards and was shortlisted for the inaugural Nordic Music Prize.
Late 2011 saw the release of Ólöf Sings, an EP comprised of studio versions of road-tested covers from her live set. She reinterprets songs by Arthur Russell, Neil Diamond, Caetano Veloso, Bob Dylan, Gene Clark and Bruce Springsteen. Uncut Magazine noted “All are deceptively simple, all carry an emotional punch”.
Ólöf has performed and toured at the request of numerous notable admirers including Jonathan Richman, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Björk, Blonde Redhead and Air. Ólöf is currently completing an all-English album of originals.