vor 4 years

Two musicians meet on Tinder and decide to produce an album. This is the story of Ultraflex in short.

Both already have successful solo careers; Katrín is better known as Special-K and Kari as Farao. Their experience as singer-songwriters helped the Icelandic-Norwegian duo to produce their first album “Visions of Ultraflex”, a mix between nostalgic 80s instrumentals, futuristic dance-pop, and soft vocals. The songs come with playful music videos in a retro aesthetic inspired by soviet aerobic TV-programs. Exactly the kind of fun we need right know. And perhaps the titles “Get Fit” or “Work Out Tonight” will even motivate you to move your body in lockdown.

Read more about Ultraflex, their artistic vision and how to help small musicians now below.

You met on tinder – How was your first date and what did you do?

Kari: We hung out on a big pink plastic flamingo on the canals of Berlin, drinking sekt and listening to Britney Spears.

How has the idea of Ultraflex come about?

Katrín: On the date, we were shouting along to Britney, both of us knowing all the lyrics by heart, and we just knew instantly that we had to make music together.

You met in Berlin and are from Island and Norway – Which places have inspired you the most?

Katrín: The Neukölln music scene has inevitably impacted both of us with its urban over-saturation. Outside of Berlin, the album was written and recorded in the Icelandic countryside, Reykjavík and Tromso (north of Norway), all unique places that helped keep the spirits high and the process exciting. We are also inspired by some of the same Norwegian artists, mostly children’s music though, since I moved to Iceland when I was 10.

Which parts of your music are very “Farao” and which are very “Special-K”?

Kari: The beats and synth universe is more on the Farao side, and the lyrics, vocal touch and visual imagery is thanks to Special-K’s finesse. We have both been part of every aspect of the project though, throwing ideas at each other and making sure things progress with a shared vision.

What made you first use the synthesizer?

Kari: I first started using synthesizers when I recorded my very first Farao EP in Iceland back in 2013, and my then producer Mike Lindsay had this awesome Soviet Elektronika EM-25 synth in his studio that we ended up using a lot. It opened my eyes to the eccentric synth sounds developed in the Soviet Union, which were more interesting to me at the time than more traditional synthesizers. 

It seems that you have a clear visual and musical concept for Ultraflex. How did you create it? How important is it for artists like you?

Katrín: For us music has three dimensions – the music, the lyrics, and the visuals – and they are all equally important. From the get-go we have developed everything in parallel. The seed of all this was aerobic exercise videos from the 1980’s Soviet Unions, something Kari has been collecting for a while.

The neon green is a recurring motif in your aesthetic. Why did you choose this color?

Katrín: We were borrowing a lot of clothes from friends this summer and they just happened to be this colour. For a more interesting answer, I just googled the colour theory about Lime Green and this is what I found: “Lime green is a color closely associated with nature, confidence, and high energy and is thought to promote feelings of liveliness, freshness, and creativity.”

What olympic sport would you participate in?

Kari: Our favorite olympic sport is cross country skiing. There’s a special feeling when the skiers are about to cross the finish line with frozen drool all over their face, and we tried to express this in musical form in our single Olympic Sweat. It’s a sexy sport, and of course it makes it more exciting because Norwegians win all the time.

How was the situation this year for you – did you feel a kind of pressure on you to create or did the motivation came by itself?

Katrín: Luckily a lot of the creative writing process was already done when the pandemic hit and we managed to use the time between waves to make visual content and promotion. We are both really hard working and neither of us wants to be a freeloader, so when one person does a lot of work, the other person automatically strives to keep up and that way we keep the ball in the air.

Where are you right now and do you have any plans for the near future?

Kari: Right now we are both in Iceland, where we just played on national TV to celebrate the release of the album. We will record our second album in January in a cabin in the Norwegian mountains, which we are very much looking forward to. And we will also do a lot of cross country skiing of course.

How can we support smaller artists right now best?

Katrín: Buy merch or digital albums. Also there was one fan who recently transferred 100 euros into our bank account and told us to treat ourselves to something nice. That was lovely and we had a fancy celebratory dinner for that money when the album was released. Of course a lot of people don’t have excess money these days, then you can have your favourite albums on repeat on mute on streaming services, that’s both good for the algorithm and it gives the artists streaming income. One fan recently opened a fan account on Instagram for us where she posts memes and drawings etc, which is heartwarming, we really appreciate all the love people are showing us.

Photos Courtesy of Ultraflex by Okay Kaya, Julia Lee Goodwin and Celine Paradis

Interview by Hannah Sulzbach

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