Jóhann Örn Sigurjónsson and Jón Emil Björnsson form two man atmospheric/post – black metal band Dynfari, which was formed in the fall of 2010 and is now releasing its second album Sem skugginn. We drove up to their rehersal place in Hafnarfjörður, and met with them and asked them questions about music, metal, clichés and life.
When did you start playing music?
Jón Emil: I started out learning on classical guitar, and when i went in college at Selfoss, i met Jóhann and we and my uncle which had the similar taste of music and started jamming mostly Death metal like Autopsy and Death.
Jóhann: I started playing the bass when I was 16 years old, but the first band I played in was a death metal band in 2009, that was called Sacrilege. Jón Emil joined that band a few months later. We started playing together and forming our band, Dynfari, a year later, we had same ideas about music creation and that was great. We had a great time playing in Sacrilege, but it didnt evolve into being something more somehow. We started right away to plan recordings for Dynfari, which we of course financed ourselves.
Jón Emil: We were so fortunate to work with Árni Zoega, he is such a great musician, he helped us with the first album from A- Z. He is known in the scene here in Iceland, and he recorded our album and we are so grateful for our debut to be in his hands.
Are you guys educated in music, or self taught?
Jóhann: I am completely self taught, but I of course think its very important to seek education in music for whatever music you then create. I learned from the internet a lot. I mainly play the guitar now, but I started out as a bass player. But that is kinda funny because I don´t even own a guitar, I just borrowed one.
Jón Emil: I learned from a teacher on classical guitar as i said earlier, which helped of course be musician and so on, Then i kinda began playing drums when we started with Dynfari mostly because we were only two, though i look at it as my second instrument. But now i am a student in an Icelandic music school FÍH, studying percussion.
So what about other instruments?
Jóhann: Well, I also played the electric organ on our album that is soon out, and of course I am the vocalist in our band. I am not afraid of playing various instruments, my grandfather gave me a harmonica recently and we are thinking about playing that on our next album, we are experimental. In our eyes, its not that interesting to form a black metal band, and only play black metal all the time because that has been done, times million. We dare to do things differently and we want to create something new, even though we play black metal in that sense.
So black metal in Iceland, what bands are there?
Jón Emil: The Icelandic band Sólstafir, which have the roots to it, but they are just one of few that we could talk about. Well, my sister has a child with their guitar player, so my connection to this band is on a personal level.
Jóhann: Yes, in reviews they sometimes talk about us in a way that we are a band from Iceland, just like the band Sólstafir, but we are not trying to be them even though we respect them tremendously. But yeah, we listen to all sorts of music, black metal, and what yes, we really like Bonnie Tyler for example. Her rock ballads are amazing. I personally think that I listen to music that has some kind of a meaning, not the mass produced stuff that is the mainstream if you know what I mean. Heavy metal in itself is so complex and various, so many subgenres and influences…
Jón Emil: I listen to everything, basically. My roots lie in the old stuff though, the desert 70´ts rock and so, we could talk about music for months if you would have time for us. We both listen to all sorts of music.
Dynfari will always be our first band, but you never know in what musical direction we will be heading towards. I mean, we are not playing black metal constantly on practices, we also play around with all kinds.
Some people say its not music, only noise. What can you tell me about prejudices towards the music?
Jóhann: Its mainly based on ignorance, I´d say. We are very well aware that this music is not everybody´s cup of tea. Music is of that kind, some like and some don´t and that is it´s very nature. There are very strong feelings portrayed in music that is that loud, and I feel that its very hard to record music like ours properly because its not that accessible in a way.
Jón Emil: Exactly, you would not hear music like ours on the radio on daily basis ….
Jóhann: Our songs are not going to be played in between news programs on Bylgjan, local radio station, that is for sure.
You definently look the part, you both life the lifestyle of being metal guys. Are you going to change that?
Jón Emil: No, its a lifestyle, its like being a hippie or have dreadlocks.
Jóhann: I think it is a statement, being a male with long hair. I can feel the pressure here in Iceland, I mean boys should cut their hair. But this is very natural to me, we were born to be this way, its a cultural thing to cut the hair in my opinion.
Jón Emil: Yes, for example in Iran you would be stoned for not cutting your hair, I think the culture there would not allow it. So we are lucky here in a way …
You both come from the south, Selfoss, that is not the capital of dark music is it?
Jón Emil: I really don´t know, I don´t think so.
Jóhann: Well, maybe there are some Metallica cover bands around or something, but I really doubt that there are bands in the hiding from there playing anything heavier. We have never even played in Selfoss, there would never be anyone that would even show up! Well maybe our family members but that´ts it. Well actually we did get an invitation to play with a couple of other bands on a gig that was supposed to be held in Pakkhúsið, the youth center, but it was cancelled. We recorded demo´s there with Sacrilege in 2010, but yeah, that´s basically it for us in relations to Selfoss.
So, what do you guys do in life, other than making music?
Jóhann: I am a student, in the University which takes a lot of my time. Other than that, I like to read, play computer games, and play music. I recently was diagnosed with autoimmunity, which has taken a toll of my time in life. I take steroids when I get sick, and other medications as well all year round.
Jón Emil: I lived out in the country site, and was a carpenter. But moved to Reykjavík recently so i could go in school here and focus more on music.. So in life, yeah, my life is mainly about music.
When is your new album coming out?
Jóhann: It is just out now, we will play on our release concert on November 17th, in Gamli Gaukurinn. We are very happy about the album. The only thing bothering us was a mistake at the pressing plant, when the album was pressed the last song, supposed outro was made first on the album. We would of course want to play abroad, we are only two in the band and usually we have two more with us for live gigs. Hjálmar, my cousin, usually plays the bass with us and Jón Þór, a superbly skilled guitar player, plays the guitar, we rent the rehearsal studio together with his progressive metal band, Daedra.
Jón Emil: We have been assigned with this Italian record label, and the album is coming out in 1000 copies all around the world, which is a big step for us because our first album came out in 50 copies.
What about your fans, have received fan mails?
Jóhann: Yes we have gotten messages from Japan and Hong Kong, then there is a guy from Columbia that is working for a Chineese record label is very supportive and wanted to help us because he really likes our sound. But yes, I think people that listen to this kind of music, know who we are here in Iceland so we are happy to play for them on our release concert.
We drove off wishing that we would be able to hear more of their music, excited to attend their realease concert. We wish them all the best for the future of metal music! Dynfari release concert of the album Sem Skugginn published by Aura Music/ Code666 Records, on November 17th at 21:00 oclock at Gamli Gaukurinn. The night will start out with a listening party, followed by a Dynfari concert at 22:00 oclock. Warm up bands are Hindurvættir from Akureyri and Auðn.
Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Camera / Editing / photos: Nanna Dís