Giving one of Iceland’s most dangerous volcanoes a voice with Netflix

To connect to Katla’s spirit, songwriter and composer Högni Egilsson (pictured right) took a deep dive into the volcano’s activity data.
June 21, 2021

Read time 3 min

Netflix partnered with Reaktor Creative and Adventure Club to market its first Icelandic Netflix Original, Katla – by turning the volcano’s activity data into music. The Voice of Katla, available on June 21st, is both a beautiful tribute to Icelandic nature and artistry – and a creative expression of the interplay between technology and art. 

When it comes to living harmoniously amongst active, unpredictable volcanoes, people in Iceland are used to constant uncertainty. In 2010, for example, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano grounded all European air travel for a week. What’s more, the volcano Katla is currently estimated to be 20 to 40 years overdue for an eruption – one that, scientists believe, will be inevitable and devastating. 

The catastrophic post-eruption scenario, laced with the natural pull we feel towards the supernatural, is what makes Netflix’s new series Katla so very intriguing to audiences everywhere.

Directed by Baltasar Kormákur, one of Iceland’s most in-demand contemporary talents, Katla is set in the harrowingly beautiful scenery of Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland. A year after the initial eruption of the subglacial volcano Katla, the few remaining inhabitants of the local community contend with the secrets emerging from the volcano’s crevasses.

To promote the series, Reaktor Creative and Adventure Club set out to create a campaign that both honors the eerie atmosphere of the series and brings global audiences to its source: Icelandic nature and folklore. 

Voice of Katla turns seismic data into music – and Reykjavik into an eruption scene

To connect to Katla’s spirit, songwriter and composer Högni Egilsson took a deep dive into the volcano’s activity data with Iceland’s leading earthquake hazards coordinator, Kristin Jonsdottir.

“Inside Katla, there are several active areas with their own earthquake frequencies. Volcanic activity is actually a conversation between these areas – different voices inside Katla, if you will. We took these frequencies and transformed them into musical expressions,” Högni Egilsson describes. 

“Basically, we’ve taken something that is usually only accessible to geologists and volcanologists and turned it into a personality; for both the volcano and the new Netflix original series carrying its name. Our interpretation of this personality manifests the mystical expressions of the volcano in a poetic, musical way,” explains Katariina Harteela, Creative Director at Reaktor Creative.

Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð, the singer and actress playing the lead role in Katla, gave her voice to the lead vocals of the volcano. To create the complex, harmonic sound of nature, singers of the award-winning vocal ensemble Cantoque lend their voices to different areas inside the volcano.

“The piece is as dramatic as Icelandic nature”, says Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð. “It’s just incredibly beautiful: so many emotions, so many ups and downs – so massive, really. You never know which direction the piece will take you!” 

“By the time Katla comes to Netflix, the National Day of Iceland, our campaign has – hopefully – reached every Icelander and Nordic mystery fan all over the world. The spine-tingling interplay of nature and folklore certainly have charmed the design team,” adds Jani Nummela, Creative Director at Adventure Club.

Interested in pushing the limits of creativity?

Drop us a line.

Creative Director, Reaktor Creative

Katariina Harteela

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