Icelandic pop singer and songwriter Heidrunna landed in Liverpool in September 1996 and describes the experience as the best thing that had happened to her. She continues “I absolutely loved Liverpool; I had the best time there. They are fantastic people, funny, talented and confident. Also as a 22 year old woman, and a foreigner, I was totally welcomed to the music scene. It was there where I was introduced to cool and different music I hadn’t heard before. I met so many amazing musicians, played and sang all day long. I have a big love for that city. It absolutely made me who I am today as a songwriter.”
The following tracks document Heidrunna’s time in Liverpool (and London), and take her back to some of the best times of her life.
10. “Beautiful Stranger”, Madonna (from Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me, 1999)
In around 1999 I was travelling a lot from Liverpool to London, for recording, gigs, meeting and so on. I was hanging out both in Islington and Ladbroke Grove. I absolutely love “Beautiful Stranger” amongst so many others.
9. “Teenage Kicks”, The Undertones (from Teenage Kicks, 1978)
This has to be one of my absolute favourite songs. I don’t know why, but it does something to me. It is another song heard in Liverpool and then going to my first Glastonbury Festival at 25, it was being played in some great party tent. I absolutely lost my shit jumping around like a lunatic, still do, maybe with just more sophisticated moves!
8. “The Model”, Kraftwerk (from The Man-Machine, 1978)
This is another song that takes me back to Liverpool. This was just before I formed my first band Gloss and I was working with different producers. I met Danni [Hunt] who later formed Ladytron and he was writing tracks very much in the style of Kraftwerk. I actually sang the original “He Took Her to a Movie” (Ladytron song from album 604 (2001)). I think he saw me as Nico from the Velvet Underground and I was very flattered
7. “Tired of Being Alone”, Al Green (from Al Green Gets Next To You, 1971)
6. “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”, Al Green (from Let’s Stay Together, 1972)
After signing my first record deal In London, still living In Liverpool we headed down south to a studio in the countryside to record my first album and Al Green was my guy with “Tired of Being Alone” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”. It was an amazing time of course, with a massive studio, cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, but I was single and probably heartbroken at the time so those songs felt perfect to me.
5. “(They Long To Be) Close To You”, The Carpenters (from Close To You, 1970)
This deserves a mention. It’s a soothing, early morning song needed after a night raving in Cream.
4. “The Look of Love”, Dusty Springfield (from Casino Royale, 1987)
Another massive superstar that I couldn’t stop listening to in my Liverpool days was Dusty Springfield. “The Look of Love” (Burt Bacharach/Hal David). I mean there are so many other songs. Incredible!
I guess I’ve always been a sucker for old school song-writing. Also, with me being in Liverpool, it felt right to listen to all this music. I mean it’s the home of the Beatles! I was drinking wine in Penny Lane bar. I was at the Paul McCartney music school (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) at the time and Cilla Black lived on the corner!
3. “I Go To Sleep”, The Pretenders (from Pretenders II, 1981)
Another song that I absolutely loved and was big inspiration for my song-writing at the time was The Pretenders with the song “I Go to Sleep”. I still love it.
2. “L’anamour”, Serge Gainsbourg (from Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg, 1969)
Another beauty was French sexy beast Serge Gainsbourg with his song “L’anamour”. The album Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg was played over and over in the summer of ‘97, despite not knowing what on earth he was singing about. But I still loved it! I was introduced to his music by Joe and Tony, the coolest musicians in Liverpool. I remember sitting in their studio listening to some amazing music that I had never heard before. Thank you guys!
The next stop was teaching myself some chords on the guitar. I had only used piano mainly for song-writing. So I bought Carole King’s Tapestry guitar book and CD. I really should have bought the piano book because she is playing the songs on piano and it would have been so much easier. I totally fell in love with “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move” and “You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman)”.
1. “Sexy Boy”, Air (from Moon Safari, 1998)
This was absolutely mind blowing to me. I’ve always loved French music but finally there it was, sung in English. Sexy French pop, just what I wanted to be like! But it was maybe a tall order because at the time I was an Icelandic developing a Liverpudlian accent!
I was living in a house with two other musicians and we kept playing that album over and over. We couldn’t believe how good it was.
Born in Reykjavik, as a child Heidrunna travelled in an Icelandic girl choir, before moving on to become lead vocalist in native pop troubadours, Cigarette. Now a long-term resident of south London, Heidrunna’s first introduction to the delights of the UK music industry involved a stint at the prestigious Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, where she worked on her guitar, piano, song-writing and performing skills. Her debut album, Melodramatic, is available now.