Name: Gyða Valtýsdóttir
Occupation: Cellist, singer, composer
Nationality: British
Current release: Gyða Valtýsdóttir's fourth album Ox is out December 3rd 2021 via DiaMond.

If you enjoyed this interview with Gyða Valtýsdóttir, visit her official homepage. She is also on Instagram, and Facebook.

We also highly recommend our previous 15 Questions interview with Gyða Valtýsdóttir, in which she expands on a wider range of topics.

Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?

Inspiration is everywhere. Having a quiet space and silence to tune in is of course amazing, but to be honest I often get my strongest inspirations at airports or on buses.

The impulse to create comes naturally when I'm overtaken by inspiration. But sometimes I just have to sit down with my “tools”, even uninspired, and start creating.

For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?

I work a lot through improvisation, not knowing at all what I am diving into. Once in a while I sit down to work on an idea which has come to me.

There are different phases of the creative process, planning does come in play for me until at the end, when I need to finalize the vision. Chance is always a welcome collaborator.

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?

I love rituals.

While working on Evolution, me and Alex Somers, who mixed it with me, would meditate for 20 minutes before starting our work.

While finalizing Ox with Úlfur Hansson, we would swim in the ice-cold lake in front of the country house we stayed at. I like making my surrounding feel great and use candles and scents, especially during dark Icelandic winter days.

Agnes Martin´s writing also tunes me in, Finalizing a creative project is such a delicate dance between listening and executing, holding the steering wheel and at the same time let go.

What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?

I recently found a voice message on my phone where I am walking in nyc and singing “there is alphabet in every image” a few times. This was the origin of the 8 min long opening song on Ox. The album´s name also comes from that line, as most alphabets start with “aleph”, originating from the Egyptian hieroglyph which depicts an Ox´s head. It was such a tiny idea, just one line but I am glad that I felt enough from it that I recorded it on to my phone.

So, usually, the beginning is easy. But seeing its potential isn´t always an obvious task.

Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?

It might come across as control when you really know what you want. But when I am most aligned, it feels to me that I am simply listening to the music and what it wants. At that point I feel like a servant to it.

So it is both out of my hands but also in my hands.

Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?

If an idea is loud - I will have to listen. Sometimes pushing away my plans or pre-conception of the process.

There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?

I call existence spiritual experience. So yes, the creative state surely is spiritual. That is a state of being in touch with the stream of remembering why you downloaded your soul into an earthly embodiment.

Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?

I usually have a timeframe, which often has to be marked out by a new geography.

For this album, Ox, I went to the contryside with my friend Úlfur Hansson to finalize and mix the album. When I get closer to the end I have to let go more and more. It is not comprimising, it is more like stopping myself from questioning things and taking detours. With the clear focus of sinking into the work, I start to have more and more knowing.

On the final night, we finished the last mix. Then I took a bath and listened through the entire music. That to me felt like giving birth to Ox - and it was perfect.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?

Once the creative part is finished, I might allow myself to do some improvements which are more technical. It is like I shift ear-glasses, use a magnifying glass to clean things up a bit.

What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?

For me mixing is an integral part of the creative and compositional process. I do not get my fingers into mastering but of course ears are very active for that phase, too.

After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?

I know this void and have fallen into it in my earlier years. Hesse describes it so well in Narcissus and Goldmund.

Today I find that releasing music has so many final stages after the creative process is over. After mixing and mastering, I start on the cover art, then videos etc.

There is still some void after the release but I've learned to see and follow the seasons in me and enjoy the “Winters”. Now I see the hibernation period as a part of creativity, the time I let myself fully open to new pollen of inspiration.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

When I was younger I read the book Mysticism of Sound and Music by Inayat Kahn, it has stayed with me throughout the years and I've re-read it a few times. That book taught me to see everything as music, in the way that everything has a frequency, harmony or dissonance. That reality is a symphony of vibrations. It has helped me to navigate the side of reality we can not see but is felt so strongly.

In that way I do see music in every mundane act of existence.