Rounding up musicians from far-flung corners of the globe such as Iceland and America, each artist was allotted 15 minutes in which to shine and encourage folk to dig deep and donate to Support Act. We set the alarm, brewed some coffee, heated up some of Mum’s homemade sausage rolls, drenched them in dead ‘orse, and made a day of it!
Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (Of Monsters And Men)
ISOL-AID: Lunch Without Borders kicks off with an Acknowledgement of Country by Canowindra musician Sophie Payten (AKA Gordi, whom we interviewed about her stellar debut album back in 2017) on the ISOL-AID Insta before we’re redirected to Of Monsters And Men’s page, where frontwoman Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir is coming to us live from her home in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Hilmarsdóttir opens with a song called Ró Ró Ró, which she reveals translates to “Calm Calm Calm” in English, and her angelic voice and gently strummed guitar act like aural reiki. Next up is a song Hilmarsdóttir tells us she wrote when she was just 16. Turns out this song never made it onto any of her records, but Hilmarsdóttir explains it holds a special place in her heart. “I was a very sad teenager, but it’s nice to kind of revisit… I was very emo and I’m very emo still… I’m still 16 at heart,” she confesses.
She then tells us that during OMAM’s recent Australian tour (Falls Festival 2019/20 plus sideshows) Gordi joined them on stage to perform Waiting For The Snow, which Hilmarsdóttir closes out with. After letting us know she’s “feeling good”, Hilmarsdóttir throws to her fellow countryman, Ásgeir.
Ásgeir wears what could very well be a Coogi jumper in earthy tones. “It’s not exactly lunchtime over here,” he observes, adding it is in fact around 2am. While accompanying himself on guitar to perform Summer Guest, Ásgeir single-handedly sounds like a slew of guitarists while singing: “From my heart I thank you, friend, for this precious melody/ For these sweet and pure tones, sweet and pure tones” – ditto, buddy!
This is captivating stuff, but it’s difficult not to have a sulk over the fact that this Icelandic treasure was due to tour our shores next month! “I’m trying to not keep the neighbours up, so I might play a bit softer than usual,” Ásgeir admits, before performing Youth, the nostalgic lead single from his new album, Bury The Moon: “Do you recall the things/ That used to bring us joy?…” Ásgeir’s lyrics speak volumes right now and this song was written in collaboration with his poet father, Einar Georg Einarsson. “It’s been a blizzard here for the last few days, which is one more reason to stay inside, which is kind good, in a way,” he muses. What a divine specimen!
One of our favourite regular takeaways from ISOL-AID is new artist discovery, and such is the case with Overcoats. Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell make up this duo, and since they’re not geographically together right now, they start off in split-screen for a bit of a chat before Mitchell transfers Elion’s image onto a giant screen behind her so that they’re (kinda) in the same room – totally nailing technology!
Overcoats also should be on tour right now, but instead grace us with their online presence and exquisite harmonies as they open with The Fool, which we learn they wrote based on the tarot card of the same name. They then spruik their new record, The Fight, which is accidentally “salient” as Elion tells: “It’s about having hope in the time of an apocalypse.” The duo then play Fire & Fury and charm our socks off while aptly singing, “We’ll get through it,” in unison. Elion then suggests we head back to the Overcoats Insta page on Friday at 8pm EST since apparently they will host a game show and also play a l’il number – yay! Lock it in.
Coming to us live from inside a “completely sanitised” Canowindra church, Gordi commends Overoats for achieving “the greatest technological feat since the hologram of Tupac” – LOL. “Nobody call my Mum’s phone,” Gordi cautions (apparently her auntie called during her ISOL-AID welcome earlier on, which was not ideal) before launching into “something moody”.
Seated at a piano, Gordi’s ethereal, soaring high notes call to mind Julee Cruise and that Twin Peaks theme song (Falling) in particular. Loads of bawling emojis scroll up in the comments and it’s an absolute Kleenex moment. Then Gordi moves closer to the screen, picks up her acoustic guitar and performs Sandwiches as sandwich emojis litter the comments. Gordi reveals her Mum has been roped in to film this set, and a viewer comments that Gordi is reminiscent of Nico. To finish, Gordi races through a Grimes cover: Delete Forever.
Julien Baker’s acoustic guitar is absolutely covered in stickers. After sharing that she just found out John Prine died, Baker says she feels very sad about that. Baker covers Big Star’s Thirteen and then plays an old song, Red Door. Her cat wanders in and out of shot, much to the delight of commenters. @menshealthmag comments regularly (eg. “The vibes”), which prompts many bemused reactions from other viewers.
Baker’s vocal is so pure and heartfelt; experiencing this intimate live set, direct from her home, seems to magnify her artistry somehow.
“Is anyone there? Is this working? Yay!” Shura commences. The British producer/singer performs in front of speccie underwater visuals featuring stingrays and assorted schools of fish. As she strums her guitar performing religion (u can lay your hands on me), the watery visuals wash over her to spectacular effect is as if she’s performing in an aquarium. And now there’s dolphins!
Shura is currently holed up in New York and observes that Side Effects – a song about a long-distance relationship – pretty much relates to everyone in self-isolation away from friends and family. Shura tells us she was too scared to swim in swimming pools at night when she was younger, because she assumed that’s where sharks were kept (fun fact).
BKLYNLDN (Brooklyn London) is dedicated to her family back in London; even though this is a sexy song, she points out it’s just the geographical references that make it relevant to her fam. A floaty vibe, both sonically and visually.