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New track from Ólafur Arnalds and Ella McRobb reflects the creative power of social media

A chance encounter on Instagram led unsigned English singer-songwriter Ella McRobb to collaborate with Grammy-nominated composer Ólafur Arnalds on new song ‘and we’ll leave it there…’, released on Thursday.

Ólafur Arnalds and Ella McRobb Image: Joe Doherty

Icelandic Grammy-nominated composer and producer Ólafur Arnalds has released a new song featuring Ella McRobb after an unlikely interaction on Instagram connected the two artists.

McRobb, a 23-year-old unsigned singer-songwriter from London, took part in a social media trend by posting an Instagram reel on which she added her own vocals and lyrics over a viral piano improvisation Arnalds had shared on his own page.

During what he called a “doom scroll”, Arnalds came across McRobb’s video. He was stunned by her performance and decided to reach out to her. Two weeks later, after exchanging voice notes and zoom calls, McRobb was offered the opportunity to travel to Iceland to record a studio version of the song alongside Arnalds, as well as a music video.

‘and we’ll leave it there…’ is ethereal and soothing, McRobb’s vocals and lyrics about love and loss gently augmented by Arnalds’ cinematic arrangements. The music video tells the song’s story, from initial video calls between the two musicians to recording in the studio and laughing together in the Icelandic landscape.

Ólafur Arnalds is one of the most influential composers of our times. His music blends classical style with modern pop and electronic elements to create truly mesmerising soundscapes. Arnalds won a BAFTA award in 2014 for his work on the soundtrack of the British detective drama Broadchurch, and was also nominated for two Grammy awards in 2022.

Before Arnald’s reached out to her, Ella McRobb was not aware of his extensive body of work or his significance in the industry. “When I heard Ólafur’s piano improvisation it instantly made me emotional,” McRobb said. “It sparked a beautiful moment of inspiration that I am so grateful to have had the pleasure of turning into a song with him.”

Album artwork for ‘and we’ll leave it there…' Image courtesy of Julie Clemessy

“Social media can often feel disingenuous and detached, but this was one of those moments where I was reminded of the magic that can happen in the digital space,” said Arnalds. “Being a little curious about all the people who had used an improvisation I had posted a few weeks earlier in their content…I found Ella's video. Her mesmerising voice over my improvisation just floored me.”

Ella McRobb will release her debut EP in 2023, and fans will surely be hoping for further collaboration between her and Ólafur Arnalds in the future.


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