You describe yourself as an ‘artist, video director, 3D connoisseur, model, and meme queen’, which makes you something of a creative polymath. Was your creativity nurtured in childhood? Tell us a bit about your family and upbringing.
Creativity was definitely nurtured in my childhood, both in school and at home. In terms of my family life, when I moved to Miami with my family aged two years old, it was very popular among their friends and there was a little community of Icelandic people for a few years. It was quite honestly amazing living in Miami as a child. I feel the most free when I’m in water, so being in a warm place with freedom to go to the pool everyday was incredible. We lived a quite traditional Icelandic life, the only difference was we were in Miami.
My parents really let me try and play around with all sorts of mediums and encouraged it. They got me my first camera for Christmas when I was five – it was a pink and green Barbie Polaroid. I fell in love with photography from then on. In school I always went above and beyond to make creative visuals to go along with essays and presentations when it was unnecessary. I once made a clay UFO to go along with a fictional writing assignment and a papier mâché statue of Rosa Parks for a history write-up. This was always encouraged by my teachers as they loved seeing what I would come up with next. My teachers really pushed us to think outside of the box with countless creative assignments.
Sudan Archives, NBPQ (Topless)
As an Icelander by heritage, but raised in Miami, how did you navigate these two very different cultures? How is that dichotomy represented within your work?
I think these two places are obviously inherently different, one is warm and open in personality and setting and the other is cold, isolated and more closed off. However, in both places I could say that I was an outsider – in Miami I was the Icelandic girl and in Iceland I was the American girl. So I never inherently fit in, and fully immersed myself in honing my creativity into something. It’s always been a place for me to escape, so it’s ever present in my work. Making something otherworldly and different has been a source of healing for my younger self and the lonely girl in Iceland.
Having studied photography in New York, but decided that it was ‘too boring’, how easy was it to move into more multidisciplinary and moving image-type work? Are you self-taught?
Photography as a whole I love to this day, but I did get bored and frustrated as I felt like I couldn’t make my ideas come to fruition with still images. It was fairly easy for me to move into moving imagery. I started off slowly by making gifs, then eventually videos and ended with 3D. I did take a few video classes and one 3D class as a basic intro, but other than that I am self taught. I’m always learning to this day. I’m a big fan of the YouTube academy where 13 years olds are teaching me new techniques and skills.
Sudan Archives, NBPQ (Topless)
You’ve become known for your innovative use of 3D body scanning in your work; what do you like most about this technique? How much further do you think it could be pushed?
My favourite aspect of 3D scanning is how it feels more human than 3D avatars. It has a lifelike aspect because the way it builds the 3D person is through hundreds of photographs. I think the technique could be pushed further for sure, not sure at this moment where I would take it. However, I am looking forward to working with bigger teams that could help take my 3D ideas to the next level.
As someone who’s worked as a model (and grown up in body-conscious Miami), what’s it like being on the other side of the camera? How much is your work a pushback against traditional or unrealistic beauty standards, particularly your decision to insert your own manipulated image into the story?
Honestly, I love being behind and in front of the camera for so many different reasons. Being in front of the camera has taught me all the feelings one can have in those given moments and that has helped me shape the way I speak and engage with talent while being behind the camera. I love pushing boundaries when it comes to beauty standards, I think it’s something I’ve always and will always push back on whether intentionally or subconsciously.
Sudan Archives, NBPQ (Topless)
Your work feels fiercely original and fresh; what are your sources of creative inspiration?
A lot of it is stuff that speaks to my inner child: music videos from the early 2000s; movies and cartoons like ‘Spy Kids’ or ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’; photographers and artists like David LaChappelle, Andy Warhol, William De Konning and Picasso, and even social media. I like doing a lot of walking and reflecting as well, it helps calm my mind and come up with some of my craziest ideas. Surrounding myself with like-minded creatives is also a big thing for me, I’m constantly inspired and pushed by the people around me.
We’re curious about how your creative process works; can you describe it? Are you a rational planner or do you work more instinctively?
I’m more of an instinctive worker especially when an idea is coming to life, for music videos I have the song on repeat while I’m going about my day, making me feel fully in tune with the song. A lot of the times I get flashes of techniques and visual aspects that I combine to make my ideas. Once I have an idea, I like to loosely plan – but nothing too crazy! I usually have Post-Its all over my desk and laptop when working on videos.
How would you describe the tone and aesthetic of your work?
Oh boy, I think I would have to say humour has a strong tone throughout most of my work, even when it’s subtle, like in the Sudan Archives video, where Sudan is riding a zebra that’s walking on a treadmill in a mansion.
Renaissance, E Gucci x Vogue Italia
Having launched your career working with an array of fashion brands on short pieces of social content, you’re now making music videos – has it been an easy transition? How has it allowed you to push your creativity and filmcraft?
It has been simultaneously easy and difficult, but something I’ve always strived for is making the viewer forget about their life and issues through my work, whether it be a 15-second video or a four-minute video. I always strive to take people on a journey outside of their own worlds. It has pushed me a lot by thinking further out of the box than before, coming up with different ways to keep a viewer engaged. That’s a big thing for me, as I – like many other viewers today – don’t necessarily have the best attention span, so keeping a viewer engaged with the visuals whether it be through captivating imagery, effects or editing.
We love your latest music video for Sudan Archives – it’s an absolute feast for the eyes. Was there a brief of any description?
The brief was just go wild – and that’s what we did!
See more of Agusta’s brilliant artwork here
Remi Wolf is another artist you’ve worked with, on several videos – what’s special about your collaboration with her?
The Remi videos were super fun because it was the first time an artist and I really saw eye to eye – we were almost always on the same page and the creative ideas just flowed. We started working together at the start of the pandemic and had to navigate how to create and work together while being in separate countries, Remi was in the US and I was in the UK. It was great for me to have projects to focus on and take me out of the stress of Covid.
You’ve recently signed to Pulse; what would be your dream brief or client in the future?
Oh my god, the list is endless. I think Britney Spears would be so iconic, she was the first musician I wholeheartedly idolised and that really would be a dream come true.
See video here
And what are you working on at the moment?
I just moved out to LA, so I’m working on settling into the gorgeous weather and environment. Besides that, I’ve been working with artist Leyla Blue on creative direction for her next musical era. I’ve also been painting, which has been a great supplement to my video work which is so digital. It feels nice to be doing something with my hands and being able to basically paint and portray anything I want to.
Interview by Selena Schleh
Pulse Films website
Agusta Yr website
Sudan Archives, NBPQ (Topless)
Director: Agusta YR
Production Company: Pulse Films
Executive Producer: Nnena Nwakodo
Producer: Manoela Chiabai
Production Manager: Smera Kumar
Production Assistant: James de Winton
1 st AD: Danny Rumbelow
2 nd AD: Franky Stone
Runner (Production): Jorele Simons
Runner (Production): Kairon Edwards
DOP: Kai Blamey
Focus Puller: Anil Duru
Loader: Nezvet Altinisik
VFX Supervisor: Ravinder Matharu
SFX Riding Simulator: James (Bronco)
DIT: James Lewis
Gaffer: Ryan Montieth
Spark #1: Cam Houston
Spark #2: Ed Irvine
Spark #3: Will Jesse
Production Designer: Robyn Wilton
Art Department Assistant #1: Gray Brame
Art Department Assistant #2: Jade O’Connor
Choreographer: Suzette Brissett
BTS: Joseph Clarke
MUA: Alice Dodds
MUA (Extras): Tyron Sweeney
Stylist: Ellie Walker @ellllie.walker
Stylist Assistant #1: Henry Hawksworth
Stylist Assistant #2: Shaylyn Gilheaney
Casting Director: Sam Franco
Animal Handler: Trevor Smith
Gimp: Dodo Potato
Twerker #1: Ivy
Twerker #2: Samira Jasim
Church Granny: Joy Isa
Contortionist #1: Klodi Dabkiewicz
Contortionist #2: Louise Gibb
Muse: Lindi Opuku
VFX: Paume and Agusta YR
Colour Grade : Glassworks
Colourist : Jonny Thorpe
Editor: Agusta YR
Director’s Representation: Hands London