From Iceland with love

“We are Kira Kira and we are here to entertain,” said the solo Icelandic noise enthusiast Kristin Kristjansdottir. Tucked away inside a nondescript office building, the North End Studio offered a cozy atmosphere for a well receiving crowd and a smiling, jovial, multifaceted music box, guitar and found sound player. From the start, a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere set the stage for an aural escape as the concertgoers were ambivalent to an hour delay in the start time. The audience then packed into a small plain, dark dance studio fitted with two lonely glass windows obscured by disproportional green shades and misshapen plants. After three openers lit up the sound waves with swirling ambient sound, Kira Kira entertained the crowd with her cunning voice and nontraditional instruments. She specializes in music boxes, attaching amplifiers to objects from coffee cans to a toy typewriter, using found sounds and thumb piano. Her second international tour comes a couple of decades after her innocuous start. “When I was 12, my mom had a dream that my [recently passed away] sister told her to buy me a guitar. Even though my mother had no idea I wanted to play guitar, she felt strongly about the dream and bought me one,” Kristjansdottir said. She began with classical guitar, then branching out to other, more avant-garde sounds as she progressed. “I’ve always been experimenting with found sound using my pocket recorder in order to transform sounds from the environment to music,” Kristjansdottir said.Although her songs are compositionally detailed, always switching from instrument to instrument and rhythm to rhythm, she takes little credit for her work. “I just listen, and take it from there. I do what feels right,” Kristjansdottir said. On the contrary of spending lots of time with composition, she leaves much in the air for improvisation. “I always leave space for improv. I get really bored really fast and I have to make sure that I can overcome my boredom,” Kristjansdottir said. Her experimental style, a severe digression from even mainstream experimental comes to her without too much trouble. “It’s quite intuitive, and very different. Sometimes I have really strong feelings and I make a song. Other times, I make a new instrument and that inspires a new composition,” Kristjansdottir said. One of her main priorities is to connect the visual and the auditory. “I really like creating an all-encompassing experience, to attack from all directions in a gentle way,” Kristjansdottir said. She accomplishes this well in her live shows, creating performances “where physical visuals such as remote-controlled ghosts and blood driven cowboy hats floating in thin air with a bullet hole through the middle are set in context with electronic music,” Kristjansdottir said. While the Burlington show did not feature expansive visual displays, her telling mannerisms and small gestures made up for it. Scattered amongst the intricate sounds, she held up her toy instruments and other trinkets such as toy spinners and toy rattlers for effect. Smiling, she wound down the show with found, unrecognizable but melodious sounds and the music coiled down to a halt. Then, she took a bow with her backup band and made a quiet, delicate exit. If only more bands could learn from her modest approach to performance.