The magical voice of Ólöf Arnalds has certainly captivated her fellow Icelanders – soft as it is bold, playful as it is melancholic. And further afield, Rolling Stone describes her songs as ‘fragile as tiny china swans’ – nice – while Mojo cuts to the chase with ‘Reykjavik’s answer to Kate Bush’. Now, we know we know design, but we also know a beautiful song when we hear one – just listen to forthcoming single Surrender (guest vocals from another brilliant female Icelandic vocalist, yes, that one). And where does this enchanting classically trained multi-instrumentalist find inspiration? Here are three places…

The album, Ho! #1: Roady Music from Vietnam ‘I came across this collection of road music from Vietnam when it was released in 2000 by Trikont. I became totally obsessed with it because it was so different from any music I had heard before. This was before music from all over the world became so accessible online. A few tracks from this record have stayed with me, some because they are so funny and strange, but the songs that moved me most did so because of the unrestricted expression of the voices.’ Listen here.

The composer, Skúli Sverrisson ‘Skúli and I started to collaborate when working together on his music for his record Sería, which came out in 2006. Through my collaboration with Skúli I found my own voice as a lyricist and a singer, which lead me into writing my own songs, too. Skúli has been my main artistic advisor for both of my existing records and he has influenced me deeply as a musician and an artist. He will be producing my next album that I plan to record in the summer.’

The book, Proust was a NeuroscientistThis was the first book I read about art and the brain. This particular book, by Jonah Lehrer, is very inspiring for artists as it validates the significance of creative search from a new point of view. It basically traces how artists from different fields through the ages have, through experimentation and self discovery, come to important conclusions about the human brain that later have become known neuroscientific facts.’