Take Five: Icelandic Rapstress Alvia Shares Trap Inspirations And Festival Memories
Rapper Alvia opens up what it means to be a woman in Iceland's hip-hop scene.
Music makers and consumers can agree on the fact that it's tough to be a gal in the rap game, point blank period. But for Alvia, a budding femcee from Reykjavik, Iceland, it's an obstacle she's eager to eventually overcome. For most of her life, she didn't have any women rappers from her country to look up to.
"I was just becoming a teenager and listening to [Icelandic rap] and it was a lot about love and girls and sluts and stuff like that," she says from backstage at Secret Solstice Festival, her hometown fest. "There wasn’t any girl rapping in Iceland." Hopefully, the next year or so will change things.
During a brief moment of shelter from the freezing Reykjavik rain, Alvia talked about what exactly drew her to trap as an Icelandic artist, her unique brand of "bubblegum" sound and what to look forward to from her next body of work.
Read the Take Five sit-down below, and flip through her festival Polaroid diary up top.
VIBE: Tell us a little bit about what has motivated your pursuit of rap.
Alvia: I recorded my first song at 16. I’ve always been writing like lyrics and rhymes, stuff that came from my feelings, and then started to rhyme. I had a boyfriend who was a rapper and I listened to a lot of rap when I was a kid, and then there was a small hip-hop scene here in Iceland and I started by making three-song albums to give my family for Christmas. I put them on SoundCloud and somebody contacted me and I played my first concert. It was so releasing for me. It clicked. Then I just started experimenting. I was making more of Icelandic electronic and rapping over that, and I started moving more into the trap thing. Then I wanted to make my album, Bubblegum B***h, so I moved abroad.
Where did you move to?
I moved to Copenhagen [Denmark] and worked there. I worked my ass off and managed to pay for it and I came and recorded it. Then you know I had the album and I was like, “Okay, I made the album. Yay.” But now I have to go and put it out there. I love that album, it’s my baby. Bubblegum B***h is six songs and it’s about facing stuff that you’ve been through. Overcoming. Then I got bored of it because it was a lot of feelings for me as well, so like I went into making a mixtape called Elegant Hoe the year after that.
How was Elegant Hoe a graduation from the first project?
Basically I had been working with different producers to find my sound, and I gave that out. That was more like different types of music. My first album was more like elf trap bubbly thing. This Elegant Hoe thing was really not a concept, it was like just something I had to do. Now I’m working on my first big album, and it’s just going to be Alvia, my name. It’s both melodic and it’s got the bass, it is trap/Icelandic vibes and… bubbles and stuff. I want the music, you know, to be something… I’m making it for myself. I’m trying to find the sound that I can listen to and get into the vibe. And you can bump to the beat at the club, because when you hear it it’s not like disturbing, but at the same time really hyped.
Who were some of your favorite people to listen to growing up and why?
When I was growing up, I first started listening to Tupac and Wu-Tang Clan. Those were my favorites. Then I really liked Ciara and Missy Elliott, and then I started listening to a lot of like Icelandic hip-hop that was just guys, and at that time there were some big Icelandic rappers that made some big stuff, but this was just a lot of teenagers. I was just becoming a teenager and listening to it and it was a lot about love and girls and sluts and stuff like that. There wasn’t any girl rapping in Iceland. I started creating hip-hop and rap because I was just surrounded by rappers, and my boyfriend back then...I was 16, he was 27 and a rapper and we had a studio so I was always in there. Wait, I don’t remember what the question was… [Laughs]
Artists that you listened to and how they influenced your style.
Yes, but then it developed into so many others. I loved Soulja Boy, I loved Lil Wayne, and then Nicki Minaj came. Of course, there’s a lot of people I’m forgetting. Then, also, I listened a lot to Devlin. He was a great rapper in the UK. I got a lot of inspo also from Lady Leshurr when she was really young doing freestyles. That inspired me a lot as well. Then I get inspiration also from just a lot of other types of music like electronic music, and, of course, Bjork from Iceland who made her own genre of music. You don’t have to fit into a box.