The Inspiring Elderly Songstress: ‘Grandma Lo-Fi’

by Intern Jessica Butler

I often hear artists and musicians respond in interviews that they do what they do because of an intense and mysterious compulsion. This strong drive is difficult to understand unless personally experienced, but to Iceland’s Sigríður Níelsdóttirit, the feeling was all too familiar. So much, in fact, that she recorded a catalog of over 700 songs within seven years at the tender age of 70.

Lovingly known as ‘Grandma Lo-Fi,’ Sigríður is the epitome of DIY music. She records everything on a home cassette player, playing along with a Casio keyboard and children’s toys to various sound effects—many of which she created herself—including barking dogs, whistling wind, mooing cows, whinnying horses, and whirling whisk-helicopters. The prolific songstress said her first instrument was the harmonica, explaining that she’d always played around with and enjoyed music, but only got into recording at an elder age.

Icelandic filmmakers Orri Jónsson, Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir, and Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir were happy she finally did, teaming up over the course of eight years to make a documentary on this extraordinary woman, entitled Grandma Lo-Fi. The film records Sigríður’s story and music, which has a following from the likes of Björk and members of Sigur Rós and Múm, to name a few.

From the looks of the trailer, the documentary seems inspiring, incredibly charming and utterly infectious. The film is shot almost entirely on Super 8 and 16mm film, and features handcrafted animations throughout, perfectly capturing the spirit of Sigríður’s homemade music style. It will be screening this summer as part of the New York Rooftop Films Summer Series on July 8th, at 8 p.m. up on the roof of The Old American Can Factory, in Brooklyn. Tickets are available online right now for $12, or can be purchased at the door. Talk about a cool Grandma! Check out the trailer for the film, below:

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Image source: Rooftop Films

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