Archives: July 2011

We saw monsters on film

Film photos from the general premiere of the dance performance We Saw Monsters, directed by Erna Ómars.



photos: Nanna Dís

Munaðarnes

The Snoop crew took a deserved brake in the month of May and invited their better half’s up to a summerhouse in Munaðarnes, Borgarfjörður.





photos: Nanna Dís

Bakkabrim on film

Film photos that just got developed from our visit to Eyrarbakki.


photos: Nanna Dís

Nóra

Not long ago Snoop was online and saw that a new band was emerging from the Icelandic music scene, and composed of people we knew! What!? We know cool people? This was amazing, we had no idea that we were so well connected. This was an ample reason to phone them up, look in on them and find out what the band’s all about.

Might the good children at home have some information about you, names and what instruments you play?

My name is Hrafn and I play bass. And the pregnant pause was? (it took Hrafn about 10 seconds to say his name). I was trying to make up a pseudonym. Frank: What was your band name? You had a band name! Hrafn: Fritz von Blitz. Now that’s a stage name! Well my name is Auður and I play keyboards, cymbals and sing. I’m Óskar and I play the drums (this was taking on the tone of an AA meeting) – my name is Egill and I play the guitar, keyboards and I sing. I am Frank and I play guitar as well, but also I play synths and Mandolin.

How does it work synchronizing such a large band, and I’m assuming that you are like most other bands juggling other work too?

Egill: It’s okay. No, its a god damn struggle! Frank: I quit my job around new years to do this and to study sound-engineering, so I’m here most hours of the day so that doesn’t take much sync’ing. Hrafn: That’s why he has to bum food all the time! Frank: Yeah I never have any money! I had a really good job programming for CCP but I bailed from that and now I’ve got nothing! It’s always a joke when we talk about it but it has stopped being a joke! (this to general laughter from the rest of the band)

You’ve sacrificed yourself for the art. Are you the manager then, making sure they get here on time and send out reminders on facebook?

I did last year but I can’t be bothered anymore. Hrafn: It’s probably going to end up that way? Frank: No I can’t afford it. You can’t afford Facebook? Hrafn: You can come over twice a week for dinner if you do. Frank: That’s a good deal, done.

Where does your music come from, seeing as you’re of that age having been into gangsta rap in your teens?

Egill: I have no idea! Óskar: How did you go from rap to this! Egill: I was into rap back in the day but I sold all my CD’s and the clothes and it was done. Frank: Is hip hop still around? Hrafn: In Vesturbærinn definitely. Frank: Does that mean Pox is still around? Auður: Ha? I have no idea what you are talking about.

The band name, does it come from the Hungarian Ice skating queen Nóra Hoffman?

Egill: Yes! Funny you should ask cause that exactly the case and for Nora from the “hit” TV show Brothers and sisters that was shown on RUV (Icelandic state television)Frank: And a Galley ship that ran a shore, this we found out when we where recording our album, there was this whaling boat call Nóra that had stranded just outside the studio. Auður: There’s also that cat lady that lives in Flateyri. Frank: She came to our concert. Hrafn: And Nóra is something like diarrhoea in Finnish! Egill: This was all in our mind when we picked the band name. Auður: It all just came together in this name. Egill: Amazing coincidence.

“He was on some tour around Flateyri wearing headphones”

You recorded the album in Flateyri, how did that pan out?

Frank: Just fine, we had no idea what we where doing, we where all virgins to the process. Hrafn: Really fun. Auður: It was a whole week of working and playing from 9 in the morning to 2 at night. Just throwing it all in there. Hrafn: We just put ourselves into the hands of Önundur Hafsteinn Pálsson, the producer, and he just used the whip on us.

No incidents? Nothing like one time when the Rolling Stones where recording an album in some castle or other and they all recorded their part at different times of the day?

Yes, our old drummer got lost when we where going to record the last song on the album and ended up just not being on that song. He was on some guided tour around Flateyri wearing headphones. Auður: That’s how we found out about the ship though. Hrafn: We just really simplified the drums in that song.

It seemed to me that you borrowed friends and family to help with the record?

Frank: Well Egill’s girlfriend Rikke played the trumpet but for the most part we had people like Hallgrímur Jóhann Jénsson, cello player and Eurovision legend, and Alexandra Kent playing the fiddle, but is actually a bass player. Egill: What! Is she a bass player? Frank: Yes she plays the contra bass. Egill: Wow! Auður: Who else, oh yes, Harpa Jóhannsdóttir she’s a bassoon player. We’re now of the opinion that they might be able to conduct this interview themselves.

You recorded your first album last year? And…

Hrafn: The year before actually, but it was released last year! Well I will edit all this later and the interview will consist mainly of clever questions and stupid answers to make sure I get the best possible rep. Egill: Snoops quest to speak only to people stupider than itself. Exactly! To the point where I know things about the band that you don’t.

Sea change in direction for the band in the new material?

We got a new drummer and the songs are a bit more heavy, a bit more rock. Óskar are you bringing something new? Óskar: I don’t know, I only saw them once before I joined the band and I don’t rightly know how the other drummer was. Egill: Were you drunk? Frank: Were we any good and where was it? Óskar: It was at the Icelandic Airways and I think I was drunk. I think I play a bit differently. Hrafn: You do. Auður: We are also just starting a fresh a bit, ‘cause some of the songs on our last album were from as long ago as 2001. Isn’t that so? Well some of them. Frank: There was a large catalogue of material that was cleared out with that album from back when it was just Egill, Auður and Hrafn. So the new album is just new.

“We get emails and pictures of some guys”

That was material you had made at Ásvallagata back when it was just the three of you?

Egill: In the garage. Good times! Is the heart still there? Auður: I keep snooping around the house and I intend to buy it one day when we get rich and famous.

About getting rich and famous, you have a lot of foreign followers on Facebook are you getting interest from abroad?

Frank: I don’t know why but we have around 2500 fans on Facebook and of those there are some 800 Arabs that think we are some girl and keep sending us messages asking whether we are single! We get emails and pictures of some guys. Egill: Logan Nigtu has sent us his pictures loads of times and we don’t know why this is. Auður: Imad is a real fan! Frank: Imad is fan number one! He’s made fan art and everything! Óskar: What about that Bosnian Eurovision thing? Frank: Ah yes we won Eurovision, not everyone can boast of such a feat. For real there is like a shadow Eurovision competition that is online. Are these real bands then and a real competition? Egill: I think it’s just that people nominate local bands and it’s just really random.

Aside from the marriage proposals, any intentions of going abroad to play?

Frank: We really want to go abroad and play but we never have any money. Egill: We almost made it to Germany but exams got in the way. Auður: We intend to release the album before Christmas and then we’ll start to promote it. Hrafn: Next year we’ll get there.

Do you intend to keep playing in Icelandic?

Yes they all seem to agree. Egill: Unless I suddenly think it a really good Idea to sing in English but I can’t see that happening. Hrafn: Maybe in Spanish? Auður: We almost wrote a song in Spanish. Almost? Auður: We didn’t know enough Spanish to finish it. You could become the first Google translate band. Frank: There is a lot of positive attention when you sing in Icelandic and I personally tend to like bands that sing in Icelandic.

Have you defined yourselves as a band or could you try different styles and genres?

Sure, we’ll see. Auður: Well I don’t really know what genre we belong to. Frank: We’re asked about it quite a lot but we never rightly know what to answer. I was trying to avoid asking that question straight out. Frank: That and who our influences are, do you have that question? (in a less friendly tone)

How frequently does the band meet up, once a week?

Egill: Now it is yes, but it was less efficient when we where looking for a drummer and everyone was studying for exams. Auður: But now its been more than once a week nearly every day. Frank: Like I say I’m in here most days now. That’s why you have such a healthy complexion.

How long have you been in this studio?

Hrafn: Year. Auður: No ten months or so. Do you feel it makes a difference? Egill: Yes and it will when we record the album. Auður: It’s also nice to make it you own, it gets a bit more cozy.

At last, what’s on the horizon?

There is the concert tomorrow and then we just keep on going. Auður: We’ll disappear for a bit when we record the album. Will you be playing this summer? Frank: We will but we haven’t booked anything. Auður: We aren’t the best at being practical. Would a manager help with that? Egill: We sort of have a manager but we need to make it a bit more official. Is that this Mr. Imad? Hrafn: Our Indonesian fan! No sadly not.

The next day we found ourselves in downtown Reykjavík, at Factory, one of the city’s better music establishments. The final act of the night, our subject Nóra, was the most polished of the three bands, their energy was palpable and we certainly had a great time. The new songs definitely had a harder, more rocky feeling to them, just like they said. All in all it couldn’t have been a better way to end the week, so to Auður, Hrafn, Frank, Óskar and Egill we say Ciao for now.

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Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Nolo

Oh to be young and in a band. To have long dirty hair and play outdated Iron Maiden songs or your own variations on that theme. To carry your burst pimples like a banner against the world and of course there is always the coarse leather jacket and carrying some slogan that defines you. How cool is that? The other day we bought an apple tart & coffe and went to see Nolo who incidentally are nothing like the aforementioned leather-phile. Soft spoken and clean they were gracious enough to show us their studio space on a Sunday afternoon in the end of June.

Could you tell us a bit about yourselves?

My name is Jón Gabríel Lorange or Nonni and I am the guitar player in Nolo. Ívar: You sing as well.
Nonni: I try to sing, can’t sing, still do it. I live in Kópavogur eee… I don’t know. That’s a fine start. Shoe size? 43. Account number? (it’s an old gag but it gets people going) I don’t know, I can’t remember.

Over to you?

My name is Ívar Björnsson and I’m 20, play the keyboards and I sing as well. There is bass on the keyboard too so there is a lot to do.

What else do you do? By that I mean do you do something other than music?

We play football for Valur. No we play for a none league side called Achilles United and yes we’re also in school if that’s what you mean? In part. Nonni: I’m finishing MK and Ívar is in Uni but mostly we just do music.

“It didn’t have a home and drifted between years.”

What positions do you play?

It differs but mainly defense and the centre of midfield. So you’re more creative in music than on the field? Yes, but football is always fun. Nonni: We can forget about everything in football. Ívar: …all the pressure and the stress of the music industry.

There seems to be a movement within the music scene towards football, isn’t there a musicians only football team called FC Mjöðm?

Yes, in the same division as us and they are really good, we’re not, but we just won our first mach the other day! Nonni: The first of five actually, the others have been more like 7-1 or 13-2. Maybe we should just focus on music and forget about football? No, no reason for that.

Tell me, you released an EP album in 2010

You mean No-Lo-Fi. Yes with Brak and it was on Þorláksmesa in 2009 so it was like the last album of the year and it has been lumped in with the albums of 2010 on year lists and that. Nonni: It didn’t have a home and drifted between years.

You are working on a new material now, when is that due?

We are told that it will be in the end of July or beginning of August hopefully. Nonni: We intended to release it in the beginning of summer but the process has drawn out a bit. And you are at Kimi Records? Yes.

Aren’t delays often the case when you add in the mixing and editing?

Of course. We have got two fine gentlemen working with us recording the album; Logi from Sudden Weather Change and Svavar Pétur from Prince Polo and also the third one is Gunnar from múm, who is doing all the mixing.

So now you officially have an entourage?

Yes they’re just string puppets now.

What program are you using to record?

When we record we use AcidPro but they use Protools because they´re so pro, we have no clue how to operate that. Nonni: On the first album we used AcidPro. Ívar: And Wax which is a movie editor.

Taxi is a brand new song from Nolo´s forthcoming second album. Never been heard before, enjoy.

With the first album more down to earth have you set your sights on doing things differently?

Ívar: The idea we set out with was to record this one in a professional studio and get the perfect sound. Nonni: The first album was almost unplayable for radio because it cut at regular intervals, I mean it was recorded in here so you could almost hear the rattle in the computer in the background where as the next one is to be more pro, Bubba Pro!

That brings me onto the cliché question, where do you come from, what are your influences?

Naturally it’s Bubbi Mortens and Björgvin they are the kings in our opinion (at this point I do a look and they waver) Ívar: No joking. Nonni: We have been playing together for such a long time and we have evolved for such a long time, for maybe six or seven years – back then it was us playing in a band doing songs like Back in Black and it started out in the classic rock and since then we have stopped trying to be in a band and just ended up the two of us making our music.

“..and the last one tried to poison us.”

So you have been trough the molding period trying out new people and having splits and realized that less is more, in your case?

Yes definitely! (at this point they cannot restrain themselves any longer and take the plunge into eating the apple tart and lose all interest in the interview). We enjoy being two of us, we create a lot when it’s just us. Ívar: There was always trouble with finding a drummer and it was always us creating in the bands and the last one tried to poison us. He was just so angry with us because we would show up in for the practice sessions and start composing most of the music as we went along. We still do it like that..

Nonni: We never write something at home and bring it to the session, that’s what he wanted for us to do. At one point he stopped the jam and asked: guys where are the songs? Let’s play them! Come on can’t you just write them at home? Ívar: There was always drama like that going on and eventually we just gave up on the idea of having a drummer at all and bought us a drum machine.

And I presume it doesn’t protest or throw a tantrum much?

No, never a word nor drama and always in sync. No heavy equipment either! That’s a big plus.

Any difficulties playing live as there are only two of you?

It can seem a bit empty as it’s just the two of us and there is a lot to do on stage, adjusting the drums, playing bass and the computer. Changing between songs can be a hassle. Nonni: Especially after we got the drum machine, now we have to scroll down the interface and adjust it whereas if we had a drummer we could just count in. There is a loss of flow so Ívar has to tell jokes in-between songs.

Can we expect a sea change in terms of material from the last album?

We’re always evolving! Ívar: Now we are a bit reggae, no not really, but the way we write is that regularly we go into a creative phase and do maybe ten songs or there about. Nonni: Ten songs, what are you talking about?! Ívar: Ok like three or four depending on how good the vibe is that we got going.

“It blends together like a bag of Skittles”

Is that lyrics and songs?

Just meeting up and jamming and we do the lyrics afterwards. Nonni: We don’t do lyrics, didn’t used to, now we’ll create a story, well lyrics matter so we’re trying to meet up and work them out. So they might be in batches of a few that are similar and others that are completely different.

How does that work when it comes to fitting that into an album that needs to have some cohesion or not for that matter?

Nonni: It blends together like a bag of Skittles. Ívar: We rarely have a genre in mind when we’re working. Nonni: There was that rap phase though with the hip hop drums and culminated in us calling MC Gauti. And how did that work out? Not great but we got 7Berg instead. Nonni: We don’t define ourselves as this one moment and that the next, Post-rock Apocalyptical, no we’re just trying to create our own thing.

Tech fetish?

That we don’t have, thank Jesus. Not at all, we just use what we own. Every other band talks about buying this amazing thing that does this and that. It seems to me that Icelandic music has been plagued by the newest, biggest, best mentality much like the rest of the society. Nonni: It can’t help you play better music, it’s great to have good sound but then you grow tired of that, what do you do, buy a new thingy? Ívar: It’s the music that matters.

That being said we are trying to bring our equipment up to date, the Electone orgel is some 90 kilos and can be terrible to haul around. Nonni: You can see that it’s meant to be stationary. Ívar: We’re in a bit of a pinch at the moment as a band cause the concert at Factory the other day should have been the Electone´s last concert and at the end of it, it broke down. It’s a mystery or a sign. Nonni: On June 13th we play at LUNGA in Seyðisfjörður and we need to figure this out before then.

Do you like playing in the countryside?

Last year we played on Kimi’s summer happening in Ísafjörður, which was fantastic, having just played in Hólmavík in a shed for like three folks, everyone else having left the town for Verslunarmannahelgin. Kinda ridiculous! Really don’t rightly know why we were there? One of the plus sides about being two in a band is that your more likely to be playing for more people in the crowd than are in the band. Hjaltalín are screwed statistically when there are two people listening, you got to play the numbers.

What are the bands medium to long term plans for the future?

Nonni: Japan in the fall. Ívar: Yes Japan and disappear and see about everything else… No, it’s mainly to release the album and try to get more than three stars in the paper, which is what we got for the last one. Still it was mainly criticism about the quality of the recordings. So Japan and Popppunktur, that’s your ambitions?  Ívar: Oh Popppunktur would be great! Nonni: but there’s only two of us and we need to be three for the show. You’ll just bring the drum machine. And program it with a robot voice. Nonni: And connect it to the internet and have all the answers.

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Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Macland

Situated on a delightful plot of Laugavegur, Macland is a new, innovative and humane computer store. Once the rather diminutive building is entered you are treated to a sparkling white interior with an ultra cool display wall and to the side you’ll find a seating area, that screams at you to take a seat and relax! To think about your purchase. This is all done on purpose (not to help you depart from your money) but born from the idea that you could have a place that is both great to work and purchase in. We sat down with Hörður, one of the owners and Siggi and asked them few questions.

You have been up and running for the past six months if I’m not mistaken?

Yes, we’ve set up the shop in late December, so we’re just about running on our seventh month now.

What was the impetus for opening the store?

An opportunity presented itself, where in I saw that I could create a job for myself from a hobby. If you get a chance to work with your hobbies, do it! But there was also a vacuum in the market. A few other stores had been selling Apple products and the idea had originally propped up a year before we launched here. We were contacted by Hemmi and Valdi, the same guys that own the store with us, about this building. Not that I had especially set out to be in the “Sirkus” house.

The building was in a rut!

The house! I thought it had been torn down when I got the call and when I went to view it with them I thought they were joking. They were dead serious.

I’ve never seen anything like it! The transformation has been immense and in total I think there have been four change-overs since December. At first there was the vile state in which we set up the shop to the basic setup, the one that we have today and there have been two minor changes since then.

This is where Bar Sirkus was?

For the most part we had to change it a fair bit and put up a few interior walls and plasterboard the outer walls. The situation was really that bad.

This is because the interior was taken out wholesale and used as an instillation and shipped in a container
to London for the Frieze festival.

Everything except for a single metal beam in the back. We didn’t know we could open out into the street, didn’t know if it was stable enough or if a permit could be received..

We didn’t get straight answers from the officials, some parts of surrounding houses have already
been conserved. They were going to build a five-story hotel on this spot but now I think the
idea for this is to remain untouched

You just started co-operating with gogoyoko on a free concert series on the plot that surrounds the house.

Yes the first one was on June 17th and far exceeded our expectations, we hoped people would look in but then it was just packed. We learned a lot from this and the next one will be on the 22nd of July. We’re going to put a bit more effort into it and create a bit more of an evening atmosphere.

And I presume more on Reykjavík Cultural Night?

That will be the final night but we will also be hosting smaller events in between and again they will be connected to gogoyoko.

This whole thing, this isn’t your traditional store?

Neither a store nor an Apple store in particular. That was the original concept, we didn’t want to put up shelves and only to have the display wall, but in the end we yielded to the demands of our customers for a wider selection of products, and that began in early January and we reacted to that by implementing the shelves. Originally we intended to tap into the atmosphere that was in the building. We didn’t want to have a computer store like all the rest with endless display walls and then a counter.

There is an inherent lack of store-ness about this place.

That’s down to Valdi our co-owner, he designed and built everything in here, but he’ll never admit it.

The repair element of business is quite big.

The bulk of the turnover comes from sales but the part that we’re most interested in is repairs and upgrads, because we are downtown and there is such a lot of creative work that goes on around us, lots of people with Mac computers. This is also the only electronic store in the city centre and the only place that does repairs in the near vicinity. Opening up the upper floor as a workshop is the next major work we intend to do.

It seams to me that you service the creative fields quite a bit, do these individuals have other requirements/specs i.e. sound and picture editing?

Yes, well one of the things that we have encountered, and I’m not saying they don’t know what they’re talking about, is that what people want is not necessarily what they require for what they’re going to work on. I’ve had people come in wanting a 17 inch Macbook Pro and we have downsized them to a 13 inch because the real need isn’t more than that. We then might spec that to the individuals real requirements and people are really happy with that. Our motto is ‘verslun–verkstæði-ráðgjöf’ (shop, repairs and advice) and that means not just handing people the items they have bought over the counter and that is the end of it but we want to understand what they truly want and guide them to the best solution.

So people are really coming in and asking for the biggest and the best?

We were really surprised that despite being in the economic downturn, the demand for the most dear products is still quite high and there is nothing wrong with that as these are great machines but not necessarily what people need and when we point them to a more pragmatic solution they are really pleased and a bit surprised that we are selling them a machine that might be considerably cheaper because that better fits their demand description, which isn’t often the case.


Truth and openness is the best way to build customer loyalty and making the
process more than mere commerce. Would that it were every businesses
prerogative to understand this, it would for one make my life just that bit better.

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Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photographs: Nanna Dís