Five Minutes with Axel Flóvent: The Icelandic artist turning therapy into music

HUNGER sits down with the artist to discuss his hot-off-the-press album, Away From This Dream, released today.

Axel Flóvent’s sights were cemented firmly on the music industry since the creation of his first “nonsense songs” aged nine. Growing up in the small, Icelandic village of Húsavík, the flourishing artist spent many a snowed-in night honing his craft. Summers, however, were spent exploring the picturesque surroundings and playing as many live events as he could “get his fingers on” with a smattering of bands. After realising the creative constraints of band-life, however, Flóvent began uploading solo projects on SoundCloud — the catalyst to his being signed by the Canadian label, Nettwerk. “I never thought that it would be an option for me to do this for a living,” Flóvent says, “but, to my surprise, my dream was handed to me on a silver plate before I even had the time to develop my confidence.” Before long, the alt-pop artist had amassed over 100 million streams on Spotify.

Now, armed with his retro Juno-60 keyboard, Flóvent is firmly set in his era of experimentation. “I love my Juno-60 to bits. Before, I’d relied on my acoustic guitar, but I was genuinely experimenting here.” The fruits of his innovation manifest themselves in his second album Away From This Dream, released today, alongside the music video for the featured song, “Don’t Wait For Summer”. While the sonic landscape has notes of the 80s tunes he’d listen to in the car on the way to the studio, his beloved synth-keyboard and Flóvent’s London-based producers, MyRiot, the lyrics are the result of four years of therapy, in which the now 29-year-old learnt to cope with his OCD and severe codependency. “I’ve actually started calling this album ‘anthems for the codependent,’” he laughs.

Following a stint of successful headliner shows across his home nation of Iceland and the Netherlands, Flóvent sits down with us to discuss his love affair with his keyboard, why he prefers working alone and his hot-off-the-press album.

How did you first get into music? 

I got my first guitar when I was nine, and started taking classical guitar lessons. I didn’t enjoy them that much because I just wanted to learn chords and play AC/DC, but thankfully my uncle taught me a few power chords, and that’s when I started writing songs. 

Who are your greatest musical inspirations?

My brother, Thorir Georg. He was a bedroom recording artist before everyone and their mother became one, and he taught me that you can make a whole record by yourself in your bedroom. I don’t think I would have ever bought my first set of recording gear if it wasn’t for him. My other big inspiration was Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. His legendary story about recording in a cabin in the woods was another reminder that you don’t need a big studio or millions of pounds to be able to create something. 

How does your Icelandic background influence your work? 

Growing up in an isolated area enhanced my creative outlook on life without a doubt. I spent my youth out in nature exploring the mountains and, in the winters, when we’d be snowed in, music was always my focus. So I think it was only natural for me to fall in love with creating stories through music — and it helped being part of a community that respects art as much as Icelandic people do.

What was it like to rack up millions of listens on your first album? Does stardom come naturally to you?

There’s nothing natural about that [laughs]. I never expected to get even a million streams but, yeah, it was and still is very exciting.

How has your sound evolved for your second album, Away From This Dream?

In 2017, I released a song called “City Dream”, which I worked on with the production duo MyRiot (Tim Bran and Roy Kerr) and, during that session, I had a huge craving to do a record in the soundscape that we found together. So, when I started writing Away From This Dream in 2022, I had their input in mind. Then, I wrote about 30 demos and my team and I chose the 10 best songs to work on further with MyRiot. This eventually became Away From This Dream

Which life experiences did you draw on when writing Away From This Dream

The biggest lyrical inspiration for this record was going to therapy these past 4 years and what I’ve learned since being diagnosed with OCD and severe codependency. “Honesty” and “Away From This Dream” capture the essence of this, which is why they’re my favourites. 

Tell us about your love affair with your Juno-60 keyboard.

Oh man, this album would not have happened without it. I bought my Juno-60 about two years ago and I just felt it in my bones, how many songs I had in me. It started a love for synths I’d never entertained before. I’m so happy I spent way too much money on it. 

How did you adapt yourself to the UK music scene?

Collaborating and writing sessions are more the norm in the UK and in the Netherlands, rather than doing everything on your own and coming to a producer with a finished piece. I initially found that people wanted me to work in situations that I found difficult to be creative in. To this day, I push myself to collaborate more, but there are certain points in the creative process I need to do in my own head first. I met a lot of amazing people during my time living abroad, but I’m happy to be back home and to have my own little studio space where I can experiment, and invite people over in my own time. 

What is your dream collaboration?

Even though I’m a big believer in the ‘never meet your heroes’ thing, I would love to work with Jim Atkins, Matty Healy and Justin Vernon. The dream would be to support Bon Iver on a world tour, write an album of songs with Jim Adkins, and have Matty Healy produce that same record. But then again, I know I would either want to become best friends with them, or never meet them at all — so, it’s a risky line to cross if I ever got the chance. 

Are you playing at any shows this summer? What can we expect from your lineup?

I’m playing a few shows in the UK in July (1 July, The Folklore Rooms, Brighton; 2 July, West Hampstead Arts Club, London; 3 July, Gloucester Guildhall, Gloucester). These are going to be solo shows – very intimate to say the least – so I’ll go through my new songs in a stripped-down manner.

Away From This Dream is available to listen to here from 7 June.


  • WriterScarlett Coughlan