An interview with Icelandic DJ/producer, Addi Stefansson...

Addi Stefansson is a DJ, producer and audio engineer artist hailing from Iceland, derives inspiration from the interplay of natural and urban landscapes. He seamlessly blends soulful ambient soundscapes with pulsating club beats influenced by house, techno, and breakbeat genres to create a unique sonic identity that reflects his deep appreciation for the world around him. While the dramatic beauty of Iceland's landscapes continues to be a core source of inspiration, he also draws creative energy from the diversity and vibrancy of urban environments. Addi's unconventional approach pushes the boundaries of his craft, producing a sound that is captivating and unpredictable. Currently based in Innsbruck, Austria, Addi's music remains a celebration of both the wonder of nature and the energy of city life. 

We recently premiered Addi’s track ‘Arrival’, which you can listen to here. Produced in Berlin, it bears all the hallmarks of the producer’s penchant for classy sounds. We also caught up recently with the man himself to learn more… 

Hey Addi! Where are you answering these questions from today? And how are you doing? 

Hey there! Today, I'm answering these questions from my studio in Innsbruck, Austria, surrounded by the beauty of the Austrian Alps. I’m doing great, feeling energised and excited about the upcoming EP release.

How would you introduce you and your music to people who’ve never heard of it before?

I'm an electronic music artist currently based in Innsbruck, Austria. My music is a fusion of ambient soundscapes, driving club beats, and diverse influences from genres like house, techno, and breakbeat capturing a deep, melodic and dreamy atmosphere.

Tell us a bit about growing up in Iceland. How was that? And how did it affect your music? 

Growing up in Iceland was definitely a special experience. The raw and stunning landscapes, from glaciers and volcanoes and the mesmerising northern lights had a profound impact on me. Though it wasn’t until I moved away and started being more abroad that I truly started to realise the connection to nature and the deep appreciation that instilled in me for the beauty around us. The isolation and tranquillity also encouraged introspection and creativity. 

There are so many great Icelandic artists (I’m thinning people like Bjarki and of course, Bjork) and the country really seems to push above its weight musically. They also hosted Sonar there a while ago. Why do you think unconventional sounds are so appreciated in Iceland?

I think that Iceland’s appreciation for unconventional sounds stems from its unique environment and small population. The long dark winters and nature's raw power influences, inspires and fosters a willingness to explore beyond traditional boundaries. The supportive, collaborative nature of the Icelandic music scene further nurtures innovation, while events like Sonar Reykjavík have showcased groundbreaking music and provided a platform for local artists to engage with international talent. These factors combine to create a culture that embraces and cultivates unconventional sounds.

You’re now based in Innsbruck in Austria. How does it compare to life in Iceland? Is it an equally inspiring place?

Innsbruck, while quite different from Iceland, has its own charm and continues to inspire me in many ways. The city is surrounded by the beautiful Tyrolean Alps, which offer a sense of connection to nature similar to what I experienced in Iceland. The mountains provide a serene backdrop that nurtures creativity and reflection. The cultural atmosphere in Innsbruck is also lively and diverse, thanks to its history and status as a university town. This mix of tradition and youthful energy creates a dynamic environment that influences my music in new ways. While life in Innsbruck differs from my Icelandic roots, both places offer distinct elements that inspire my creative process and continue to shape my artistic journey.

How do you approach inspiration? Does it come naturally to you or do you tend to go looking for it? And how does your overall mood impact the music you make? 

Inspiration can be spontaneous or require active pursuit. Sometimes it arrives naturally through surroundings or experiences, while other times I seek it out by exploring new environments or collaborating with other artists. I’ve also found out that documenting or remembering a past thought or experience when I felt inspired helps me significantly to get into a flow state while creating. My overall mood can definitely influence my music, with emotions shaping the track's atmosphere and energy, creating an evolving expression of my internal world and the inspiration that arises from it.

What contemporary artists, labels, parties etc do you really look up to? Are there some you’d love to emulate and work with, for example? 

I admire artists like Jon Hopkins, Bonobo, and Four Tet for their innovative soundscapes. Labels such as Warp Records and Ninja Tune inspire me with their support for groundbreaking talent. Events like Boiler Room, Sonar and Snowbombing foster connections among music enthusiasts. I'm motivated by their creative spirit and success, and I'd love to collaborate or be part of their communities in the future.

On that note, how do you strive for balance? And how important is a positive mindset when making music, do you think? Or does this even matter? 

Finding balance involves nurturing both personal and creative aspects of life through self-care, reflection, and engaging in hobbies or other passions that are meaningful. A positive mindset can encourage creativity, but it's important to embrace the full spectrum of emotions, as they all contribute to the richness of our music. The balance between positivity and vulnerability ultimately shapes our artistic journey.

Do you make music for yourself or others? Are you someone who is consumed by music and who always needs to be creating? 

My music is a reflection of my emotions, experiences and influences, so in a sense, I create it for myself. However, I also deeply value the connection that music can establish with others, so sharing my creations with an audience is equally important to me.

I am indeed passionate about music and often find myself immersed in the process of creating, exploring, and pushing my artistic boundaries. While I don't necessarily need to be creating constantly, I am fueled by the desire to express myself and evolve as an artist, which keeps me engaged in the world of music.

A lot of artists talk about the struggle that often defines their music. Has a career in electronic music been full of sacrifices for you too? 

A career in electronic music has indeed involved challenges and sacrifices, such as balancing creative demands and prioritising my work over personal time or relationships. However, these experiences have shaped me as an artist and enriched my music. Despite the struggles, the opportunity to express myself and connect with others through music makes it all worthwhile.

We’re really loving your latest record, Chapter IV .Can you talk us through some of the tracks on the record and the thinking behind them, the vibe you were going for with each etc? 

I’m glad you’re enjoying Chapter IV. Here’s a brief overview of the thinking and vibe behind the tracks of the record.

“Don’t Wake Me Up”: Capturing the transcendent sensation of an unforgettable experience and the reluctance to return to mundane reality, this composition melds rich pads, multilayered synthesisers, a gentle tune, and psychedelic sound effect to evoke a dreamy ambiance, accompanied by my own vocal samples. 

“Arrival”: This piece encapsulates the vibrant and diverse essence of life between towering mountains and bustling urban landscapes, inspired by an unexpectedly lengthy journey from Berlin to Innsbruck due to inclement weather

“Extending an Olive Branch”: This introspective work delves into the intricate nature of human emotions intertwining textured pads and propulsive rhythm to establish a reflective and introspective atmosphere. 

“Blue Cream” : A melting pot of various electronic styles, this track highlights my passion for experimentation by fusing elements of house, breakbeat and electro to create an enveloping, genre-defying experience. 

“On my Own”: Another genre-elusive piece that plunges into a darker realm, merging breakbeats and house rhythms with a guitar melody and my own vocals to create a uniquely immersive atmosphere. 

In terms of the production process, you produced the record in Berlin. What was the thinking behind this?

Producing the record in Berlin came naturally, as I was living there at the time. The city's lively electronic music scene and diverse musical influences contributed to the creative atmosphere. Being in Berlin allowed me to be inspired by its unique energy, which in turn, subtly influenced the sound and character of the record.

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Berlin? When did you first visit? Is it a very inspiring place for you musically? 

I first visited Berlin about six years ago for a long weekend with some friends. A year after my first visit I decided to move there and study music production and I spent a few years living between Berlin and Innsbruck. Berlin has been a significant source of musical inspiration for me. Its atmosphere, legendary clubs and venues, and thriving creative scene have definitely shaped my sound and broadened my perspective on electronic music.  

What’s the thinking behind the title, Chapter IV? Is there an autobiographical meaning behind it? 

The title "Chapter IV" signifies a new phase in my musical journey and personal growth, marking my decision to pursue music full time. It represents both the experiences and emotions during this pivotal time and the beginning of my fourth decade of life. The album serves as a continuation of my personal story and a turning point in my career, as I fully embrace music and explore new creative horizons.

What’s next for you - both on a personal and musical level - that’s really exciting you right now?

Personally, I'm eager to explore new experiences that will enrich my life and music. As I grow, I'm excited to incorporate these influences into my sound.

Musically, I'm enthusiastic about experimenting with new styles, collaborating with other artists, DJing and performing live. I’m particularly excited about two more EP releases in the next few months, which will showcase my latest endeavours. 

Keep up with Addi Stefansson on Bandcamp and Linktree, and check his website our here 

We recently premiered Addi’s track Arrival, which you can listen to here