Edda Karin Hjartardóttir Magnason (born 22 August 1984) is a Swedish singer-songwriter, musician and film actress of Icelandic descent. She has released two albums of her own, Edda Magnason (2010) and Goods (2011) and a soundtrack album, Monica Z - Musiken från filmen (2013). She made her debut as an actress in the film Waltz for Monica, playing the leading role of Monica Zetterlund.
Magnason grew up in a tiny village near Ystad, Sweden, but her father is, as her name suggests, from Iceland. One of seven children, she began composing her own pieces on the piano early on in childhood, dreaming of becoming a classical concert pianist.
When she was 16 she began writing electronic song-based pop music with English lyrics that she made into demo (music) recordings. Some of these songs were used on the soundtrack of the Swedish film Hot Dog (2002).
In 2004, she went on to study music composition in Gotland, and then moved back to Malmö to take an active part in the music scene there.
She has thus developed a uniquely personal, eclectic music style which has been described as "a seamless blend of jazz, pop, folk song and classical music," with a vocal style reminiscent of Björk or Kate Bush.
Magnason released her self-titled debut album, Edda Magnason in January 2010 on the Caprice Records label. Produced by Jonas André and Edda Magnason, it was recorded at Nybrokajen, a classical music venue in Stockholm, with piano and vocals by Magnason. She wrote all the music and even made all the illustrations for the CD booklet.
Edda Magnason was one of the best albums of 2010 according to Ingrid Strömdahl, a music critic at the national Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet:
"A stylish and quirky melting pot of jazz, folk, pop. Edda Magnason emerges as a musical personality of great stature, intuitive, intelligent and poetic. Lyrics, composition, vocals, piano playing, arrangement - everything is at a high artistic level."
Magnason released her second album, Goods, in March 2011, on the Adrian Recordings label. Produced by Christoffer Lundquist and Edda Magnason, it was recorded at Lundquist's own studio, the Aerosol Grey Machine studio (AGM) with Edda on piano and keyboards. As well as writing, singing and performing all the music, Magnason designed the cover and made all the CD booklet illustrations herself. The second track, Blondie, was released as a single in May 2011, together with a surrealistic music video directed by Jens Jansson.
In 2013, Magnason signed contracts both with Warner Music and Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
From May 2014 onwards, she will be performing songs from her third solo album with her new band at concerts and festivals all over Sweden. However, the album is not due for release until late summer.
Between 2005 and 2010, Edda Magnason collaborated with singer-songwriter, spoken word artist and film actor, Emil Jensen (musician), often taking part in his performances and recordings.
In February 2012, Naxos Records released Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint, a compilation album by Mats Bergström & friends celebrating the influence of Steve Reich on contemporary music. Edda performs her tribute to Steve Reich, a composition called So many layers of colours become a deep purple heart.
In May 2012, Adrian Recordings released Magnason's Jona, produced by Familjen, together with three remixes: a remix of Edda's original version by Vidderna, a remix of Vidderna's version by Niva and a remix of Niva's version by Justus Köhncke. This was inspired by the children's game, Chinese whispers. A set of four music videos directed by Nisse Axman has also been released.
Edda plays the leading role of Monica Zetterlund, the legendary Swedish jazz singer, in the film Waltz for Monica, which was released in September 2013. This is Edda's first acting role ever and she likens the experience to performing as a musician. The film follows Monica Zetterlund's early career, moving from small-town Sweden to the jazz clubs of New York and Stockholm, rubbing shoulders with such celebrities as Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis. Directed by Per Fly, with a film script by Peter Birro, Sverrir Gudnason and Kjell Bergqvist played supporting roles.
The film has been described in the Swedish media as an immediate critical and public success. It was seen by over 500,000 filmgoers in 2013, making it the year's most popular film in Sweden. It has already been sold to 23 countries worldwide and numerous airlines. It was nominated for eleven Guldbagge Awards. and won four.
Magnason herself sings the full repertoire of Monica's songs on the film soundtrack. A soundtrack album, Monica Z - Musiken från filmen, produced and arranged by Peter Nordahl, has been released by Universal Music. Over 20,000 records were sold by December 2013 making this into a Swedish Gold album.
Magnason was signed by Paradigm Talent Agency, based in Beverley Hills, in February 2014.
In 2013, Magnason made her debut on the musical theatre stage, performing as a soloist with the choir and orchestra from Malmö Opera in The feeling of going, a dance and music production by Skånes Dansteater at Malmö Opera and Music Theatre. The feeling of going is a visionary work by the British choreographer Ben Wright, based on the album Go (Jónsi album) by Jónsi, the Icelandic pop artist and lead singer in Sigur Rós.
Awards and prizes:
Magnason was awarded the Ystad Culture Prize in 2003 and was appointed as an ambassador for the Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival in 2013.
In 2013 Magnason received Spelmannen, a Swedish culture prize established by the evening newspaper Expressen and previously awarded to such artists as Abba (1982), Anne Sofie von Otter (1997) and Georg Riedel (Swedish jazz musician) (2003).
Magnason was nominated for a Grammis (jazz), the Swedish equivalent of a Grammy for Monica Z - Musiken från filmen, the soundtrack album to the film, Waltz for Monica.
She received a Guldbagge Award in the category Best Actress in a Leading role from the Swedish Film Institute for her portrayal of Monica Zetterlund.
In December 2013, it was announced that she had been chosen as one of ten young European actors to win a Shooting Stars Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2014. Selected from a short list of 24 nominating European member countries, the stars were presented to the world's media and influential film industry experts at the Berlin International Film Festival 2014.