In The Spotlight

Gabríel: 'Icelandic Hip-Hop's Going To Change Forever!'

February 27, 2012 at 11:44am
We have a mystery for you to solve - or not - for this newsletter's interview. The enigmatic subject of this IMX Spotlight is a box-fresh hip-hop artist who will not reveal his true identity (he really won't - we tried to tickle it out of him), only wishing to be known as Gabríel. However, this rather sinister looking fellow is far from new to this business we call show, having been active in the Icelandic music scene for many years. Gabríel has just released the fine single 'Stjörnuhröp', which can be downloaded for free for a limited period on Gabríel's Bandcamp. The track also features rapper Opee (Quarashi, Original Melody) and singer Valdimar Guðmundsson. We love it. We think you'll love it too. In the meantime, read on as we attempt to lift the metaphorical mask from the secretive new enfant terrible of hip-hop.
 
So Gabríel, what CAN you tell us about yourself?
 
Well, believe it or not, I've been active in the Icelandic music scene for about 20 years. One could say my career started when I was a young boy, performing on the biggest Icelandic talk show of that era, called: “Á tali hjá Hemma Gunn”. Today I'm 31 years old, and much nicer and wiser. I've played concerts, with various artists, in over 20 countries, in four continents. However, with this new project, I'm doing something totally different from anything I've ever done in my career, so I found it logical to represent myself as someone, or rather something totally different, and thus Gabríel was born!
 
We love the single, how did that, and the associated collaboration come about?
 
I've been a huge hip hop fan for years and I've wanted to make hip hop music for a long time, but I never got around to it. Now, the time felt right, so I simply started making my first hip hop beat, not knowing if anything was ever going to come out of it or not. Well, I happened to be very happy with the outcome, so I finished writing the song around the beat. Then, after writing the lyrics to the chorus, I called up Opee, played him the song and asked him if he was interested in writing and performing the verses. Thankfully he said yes, and did his part masterfully, in my opinion laying down some of the hottest Icelandic verses ever recorded. Then, I thought about who I wanted to sing the choruses, and Valdimar Guðmundsson instantly came to mind. So I called him up, and once again, I thankfully got a positive reaction. Valdimar's voice gives the song this great, deep, lush feel. This also happens to be the first ever hip hop track that Valdimar is featured on!
 
Will you be performing live any time soon? Where can we see you?
 
At the moment, I have no live performances scheduled. However, I'm currently in the midst of shooting a brand new music video for “Störnuhröp” where you'll be able to feast you eyes on me, along with Opee and Valdimar. (This video is now viewable below!)
 
We think there isn't enough mystery in the world of music these days... when might you unveil your true name... or will you forever be a mystery?
 
When writing and producing hip hop music, I will always be Gabríel. So officially I'll never unveil my true name, thus contributing to the mysteriousness in the world of music... But I also realize that when two people know a secret... it's not really a secret anymore... or is it????
 
We like you more all the time. Who are you listening to at the moment?
 
I'm always listening to Kanye, Jay-Z and D'Angelo. Always. There's something timeless about these artists. Other random tracks that are doing it right now for me are “212” by Azealia Banks, “Maybe I'm Amazed” by Paul McCartney and “I Love My Bitch” by Busta Rhymes.
 
What are your predictions for this new year of Icelandic music, and your hopes?
 
First of all, I think the Icelandic hip hop scene will get a lot better. Until now, there's not been much Icelandic hip hop I've liked, but that's all about to change forever. I'm excited to hear the new Sigur Rós album, it has to be epic! Would be fun to work with them one day. I also sincerely hope more Icelandic artists get recognized internationally. It's extremely important for us, in this tiny Icelandic market, to be seen and heard by the “outside” world.