Music

ÍRiS

The Snoop-Around team met with the Icelandic singer/ songwriter ÍRiS the other day, to discuss her upcoming album, the mysterious debut album that will release early 2013. We met at Babalú, the cosy café on Skólavörðustígur, where ÍRiS took the time to explain a thing or two about her music, the process of recording her first solo album and how the overall experience on how it is being an independent artist.

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So, when did you decide on being a musician?

I started out learning classical music when I was younger, playing the violin. When I got into Jazz, things started to change for me as far as thinking outside of the box goes. I realized that it is ok to be different, and it inspired me a lot. I started out writing my songs on a small keyboard that I had borrowed from a friend. I didn’t decide on becoming a musician; it’s just something I felt that I wanted to do.

I was around 23 years old when I started my first ever singing lesson. I couldn’t stop, I think the musical expression is so strong through the voice; you are revealing a part of you especially when you are performing on stage.

Do you write all your songs on the keyboard?

No, not always. I normally start out by writing the lyrics, I carry this little book in my bag that I carry around all the time. Sometimes the ideas come to my on obscure moments so its very handy for me to have my book on standby.

“I am all about metaphors and stories”

My ideas can be very fractured, therefore the book contains little sketches, poems and so forth, but sometimes I get a really clear vision for a whole piece or a song that I then write down. I am all about metaphors and stories and my music is often about each person’s interpretation of it, although its origins come from a very personal place.

Your lyrics are mostly in English; do you think it’s harder to write songs that are not in Icelandic?

No, somehow I don’t think so. I have not written many songs in Icelandic, but there is one song on my album that I am very proud of. The Icelandic language is very complex; I feel that you have to be very selective on what words you choose whilst writing. I think it’s also because I am Icelandic and you are somehow more naked with your creations if the lyrics are written in your mother tounge. Do you know what I mean? But the Icelandic language is very precious to me.

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Daybreak, the single of the album that you have newly released. What is it about?

Daybreak is the first song that I wrote, and it is about this particular feeling, that you don’t want the moment to pass or to be over. We all know this feeling, I think; it’s within human nature. Its about the reality that is upon us, even though you want to live in this special moment forever, you know it’s not possible.

I think writing music is a revelation in itself. It is just like if someone was watching a painting, nobody sees or feels the same thing. The same applies to music, each person experiences it for it’s a personal thing, for me and for the audiences.

The lyrics are the core of the music, is that what I sense?

Not necessarily, but they are very essential to me. At the same time you can also say a lot without words and let the music itself deliver the message. It intertwines; I think is very revealing to write music. One song on the album helped me in a way to understand myself better and that is a good example on how sometimes I feel when I write music.

Video/editing: Ása Baldurdsóttir

How was the work in the studio, was it a great experience?

I was so lucky to work with brilliant professionals, musicians and audio engineers, in the recording process whom I’m very thankful to. I had a strong vision for the whole project, and you could say that I was the artistic director as well as playing on all instruments that I control, in addition to vocals. I just wanted to capture the right sound, my sound! But yeah, I decided to jump into the deep end of the pool and made it happen. It was a great rollercoaster ride for me to produce my first solo album. The instrumental recordings went very smoothly, but when I had to sing I was a little stressed because my voice is my most important instrument.

I think it’s easy to become overly critical, in this kind of process but I learned to relax, as we got closer to finishing the recording. The album contains nine songs; they are very multi –layered in a way. I wanted to make my own music because that was the thing I knew I had to express; I had to make this album, also for me to evolve as an artist.

What inspires you as a musician?

Sometimes I am listening to music that inspires me in a way that I start to write something totally different or if I see a word that inspires me I start to write something in a complete opposite way of the words original meaning. The flood of ideas is based on many different things. I am very connected to the nature here in Iceland; the environment often has an influence on what I express. When I am asked to describe my music, I am not very descriptive of it because it does not belong to one clean-cut category in my opinion.

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“We experimented with a lot of elements that made

the sound seem unexpected and dreamy”

The instruments we use on the album are experimental in a way, my music is pop with influences from rock and jazz and so many other genres. We recorded for example a lot of different instruments, a few keyboards and pianos, synthesizers and a harp to name a few. There are many sounds that you hear on the album, that you don’t know what are, for example in Daybreak you can experience something that sounds like a broken music box. Well, that is at least what I hear! I think if I would describe the album in few words, it’s about the contrasts from different ways; the songs contain a lot of bass and are high ended. I am really inspired when I can play with contrasts as much as a can. We experimented with a lot of elements that made the sound seem unexpected and dreamy.

I used a variety of techniques to create a sound world in addition to the classical sounds because I wanted to explore the ways in which the instruments could be used for purposes other than what they are intended. For example, I recorded debris and defects in wood instruments, noises and air sounds, piano, percussion, the noise from shaking my keychain, and of course my body, stamps and claps. I wanted to keep the number of imperfections in the instruments, and hold debris, exercise, and other noises. I didn’t want to overproduce the songs either.

The voice played such a strong role: as well as the actual recording of the melody, sometimes I wanted to create a wall of sound, using the voice as a bass, to create this manifold (multi-layering) effect.

When is the album out?

It is out early 2013. This album is connected to the winter, so yes; it’s coming out in the next months. Even though I’m solo, I sometimes play with other musicians and bands and I am really looking forward to my release concert as well.


We wish ÍRiS all the best for her future,
her Daybreak, and her release early next year.

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Video/editing & Interview: Ása Baldurdsóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Dynfari

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.

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Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Camera / Editing / photos: Nanna Dís

SYKUR

We’re standing outside the venue at Aldrei fór ég Suður, Iceland’s premier music festival. Inside the organizers are running through the program with the artists. This is the ninth year now and the rise of the festival has been meteoric, this free music festival in the west of the country brings around 3.000 people to the town of Ísafjörður every Easter. Due to it’s northern lay and the curiously unfixed date of the Christ’s death the festival has been held in March and even as late as May but for the most part its about people dressed up in their woollen best, standing outside in snowy conditions.

We have attended this festival for years now and seen it grow to live broadcast on the web, national radio and television, it also brings tourists from all over the world, eager to sample this unique musical ensemble.

We snooped around backstage to grab a seat next to Sykur, ready to bombard them
with some questions as they gobble up their Plokkfiskur (traditional fish stew).

Hey, can we just start by getting your names?

Kristján Eldjárn, Agnes Björt Andradóttir, and that one over there in line for some Plokkfiskur is Halldór Eldjárn.

Is this your first time here at Aldrei fór ég Suður?

Yes, as a band, but I think we’ve all been to Ísafjörður before.

You’ve been playing as a band for quite a while now?

Since 2008, me, (Kristján), Halldór and Stefán Finnbogason. We got together to play fun electronic music. Stefán isn’t with us here he’s in the States at the moment where he is going to adopt a kid. We will have to do our best to make it without him and try and make sure the stage isn’t empty looking without him. Agnes joined us late last year.

So he’s legitimately excused. Is that how you’d describe your music?

Yes, Electric shock party music. “Oooohh That’s a great play on words, you should laugh now!” Unnsteinn from the band Retro Stefson shouts out. Halldór: You could keep a running commentary on the interview?
Unnsteinn: Sorry I’m a terrible attention seeker. Wouldn’t you (he turns and asks us) rather like to interview Stórsveit lýðveldissins? Which is the band that we started together. Kristján: That was a great band, we rehearsed in the attic of Austurbæjarskóli (East side elementary school) in-between filing cabinets full of grades of past students from the past seventy years. Ex-prime minister, Davíð Oddsson, for one.

How did he manage in school?

He was pretty shit at swimming, well that’s not a surprise really as there is such resistance in his curly hair.

He could have swum backwards?

True, he could have been junior world champion in the 400m backstroke!

You just released your second album Mesopotamia and have amassed a bit of a following.
What is the allure of coming to a festival like this, where you aren’t being paid for your work?

It’s just the atmosphere that you wouldn´t find anywhere else in the world, there’s the road trip, being with your friends and meeting other people from the industry. Also it’s just a huge party from start to finish and you get to see new bands. Besides as artists, the travel and upkeep is provided for us, that and Plokkfiskur.

Halldór: For me it’s not just a chance to have a good time, I have this romantic notion that we can reawaken the countryside. You don’t have to go far back in time to find a time when the countryside was much more alive. Towns are stagnating as everything moves to Reykjavík, I find that it’s just great to be able to give something back and hopefully the tide will turn. Of course there are a lot of people that come up from Reykjavík but you really get to play for a completely new crowd and its makeup, its component parts being very different to our regular crowd.

You’ll hopefully get to see grandmas and children sitting on their parents’ shoulders.
But as you’re last on stage it might be more underage drinking?

Agnes: That’s our target audience!

That is great, have you actively been endorsing under age drinking in your music?

All our lyrics are just hidden calls to young people to drink, I mean if you playback Mesopotamia you’ll hear the instructions to making your own moonshine.

Being last on the roster and topping of the night must be an honor?

As the program finishes so early it should be real fun! A lot of the time when our set is at three or four in the morning, everyone is etiher comatose from too much drink or just gone home. So it’s a nice change to be able to close this early.

Then you get people on their fifth beer and well it’s pretty much downhill after that?

Kristján: Yeah, pretty much breezers and speed from then on!

At last, are you looking forward to seeing anyone special over the weekend?

Agnes: I’d have to say HAM as I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing them live before. Halldór: For me it’s got to be Mugison, we saw him play in Oslo when we where over there playing and that was an amazing set. Kristján: Most of the musicians that we know I’ve seen before so many times before so I’m just looking forward to seeing something new and discovering new bands. Agnes: I’ve also heard that 701 is supposed to be really good.

 

We lead them out of the building to take a few pictures and are met by the coolest bartender I have ever encountered, he’s about ten and standing on the back of a pickup truck handing out ice-cold beers from from a fishing container. Ahh yes the weekend has arrived.

Interview: Guðni Rúnar Jónasson
Photographs: Elín Lóa

Lucky Records

On a foggy morning in Reykjavík we visited Lucky Records, the great vinyl shop at Hverfisgata and met with the owner Ingvar Geirsson and his right hand Gestur Baldursson. They offered us coffee, sat down behind the counter and asked us what we wanted to know. We told them that we wanted to know everything about this little shop, its treasures, and of course stories about their experience owning it.

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Firstly, when did you open the store and why did you name it Lucky?

Ingvar: I once worked as a DJ and there you have it. I was DJ Lucky and I mainly played on venues like Borgin, playing funk, soul, and jazz music. As for this store, I opened it in the beginning of 2009, prior to that I had a booth in Kolaportið, the Fleamarket in Reykjavík. At the time I had been collecting vinyls for a while and buying music both here in Iceland and abroad.

So, you are both musicians?

Ingvar: No, Im just a DJ (or was).

Gestur: Well, as a teenager I played for some time in my home town, Kópavogur. I was in the garage business – playing the drums here and there. There was a scene back in those days, guys playing metal who even won Músiktilraunir, a music competition held in Reykjavík, two years in a row. This influenced me a lot in my profession as a collector.

What can you guys tell me about the store, and its content?

Ingvar: The store has pretty much everything, you could say we offer a world class vinyl collection.

Gestur: There are so many vinyl shops in the world that operate within specific music genres, there are hip-hop vinyl stores, jazz vinyl stores and so on. Our collection contains a various range of music styles, and of course also Icelandic vinyl. We´ve had rarities in the store, exclusive records that are signed or singles that are prints from sessions, concerts or recordings that are pure gold for the music lover.

So, do you remember anything extra special in this context?

Ingvar: Hmm, it’s hard really to remember actually. But I can tell you that once we had a Hljómar vinyl, that was signed by all the band members. That’s a good example of a record that you can’t put a prize tag on, really.

Gestur: Exactly, some things are so valuable and historic, that you can’t exactly prize them. Especially when it’s a collectors item. Some records are one of a kind, literally. That is, sometimes vinyl have only been printed once, or there was just one copy made for example from a session and so forth. There are so many rarities in this business, really.

Ingvar: And don’t forget the Icelandic rarities. We’ve had vinyl that you can´t find anywhere else, with Icelandic artists, like Megas for example. There are so many vinyl that are rare and if you think about it, greatness on a vinyl.

What about the customers, who are they and what are they looking for?

Gestur: We have had all sorts of customers in the store, musicians, artists, music lovers and people of all ages. Well, musicians drop by a lot, we had one customer here the other day, the Icelandic pop icon Herbert Guðmundsson, buying his own CD’s. That is something that can´t be topped!

Ingvar: Back in the day, people would wait for the release of new vinyl by lining up in front of the store on the day of the release. It was the place for people to meet and talk about music, get tips about things and so on. This part of the music culture is disappearing because the record store has moved somewhat online and people download, every day, music on a digital format. But we still have this culture in our store, that is, musicians, and people that take great interest in music do come here to chat.

“Collecting records is my passion, that’s why I´m the Store’s best employee!”

Do you service the customer when they drop in, give them advice etc?

Gestur: Yes, of course. Firstly we have good turntables here, for the customer to listen to the vinyl before they decide on buying them. That is a basic demand for the customer, to get to listen to the records, in the shop. We service our customers here in the store and online, as well as buy and sell vinyls.

We take so much interest in this ourselves, so we like to help people to find specific records. We are always on a look- out for good things though.

When did you start to collect vinyl?

Ingvar: I was young, maybe 9-10 years old when I moved to Sweden. Since then, I have been collecting vinyl, playing them, dj-ing, and now I own this great record store. I can’t complain.

Gestur: I still have all my records from my childhood. Collecting records is my passion, that is why I´m the Store’s best employee! We are both specialists, we have been around this business for so long. That is why people enjoy coming here, just to talk about vinyl and other music related stuff.

What is your favourite album?

Ingvar: James Brown, without a doubt. I have all his records, I must admit, all 100 of them or so. They are all equally solid in my mind, James is such a powerful musician and an artist. It is hard to name one favourite album though.

Gestur: I agree it’s hard. I can’t name just one. Or wait a minute, I can name one band, Suicidal Tendencies, they have been around for a long time. I guess you could say that they are my all-time favourite band. Well, I think the point is, we are both music lovers and that is why we can’t list up one or two favourite artists and vinyls, that’s just ridiculous.

“Our lights are all made of vinyl, my wife made them and we only sell them to the right people!”

What else do you have in stock in your shop?

Gestur: We are not selling vinyl exclusively, we have CD’s of course, PlayStation games, VHS, posters, and what can I tell you more….

Ingvar: We are selling Lucky Records t-shirts, and hats and ohh, we are of probably selling the most unique lights that exist, look at the ceiling! Our lights are all made of vinyl, my wife made them and we only sell them to the right people!

What is ahead for you guys, anything special happening this summer?

Ingvar: Well, it’s the International Record Store day now in April that we are really looking forward to. On this day, independently owned record stores celebrate the art of music and the concept of the record store in general.

Last summer we participated in a world event with friends, here in the Heartgarden, which is located just outside our store and we will probably do so again this summer. We have also provided a DJ set or music for African days and other events, by lending them world music. I think its great, and we like the garden, it’s a great venue in the summer time.

There are so many other things, like the artwork on the covers? What can you tell me about that?

Gestur: The covers can be a freestanding art pieces if you think about it. There are many collectors that only collect the art work and don’t even listen to the music at all. Who doesn’t remember The Beatles crossing the street, Andy Warhol’s Banana, Pink Floyd´s triangle and so forth. These are images that you remember for life, even if you have never heard the music they represent it and that is pretty darn powerful.

Ingvar: I agree, there are so many things that you can’t get online, that is true. You have to have the physical cover, the physical vinyl. That’s just the way it is. Also sometimes you have memories connected to the albums that money cannot buy.

“We discovered there was another Lucky Record store, but it’s a store that has a focus on the gay genre”

Lastly, what can you tell me about the store, is it one of a kind?

Gestur: Well I have to tell you, we discovered there was another Lucky Record store, when we were googling the name. That store is located in Paris, France but it’s a store that has a focus on the gay genre and mostly sells records from artists like George Michael, Madonna, Village People… if you get my meaning. We just found it hilarious that there exist another Lucky Record store and we wish them the best of LUCK of course.

Ingvar: Well, our store is one of a kind it’s the best Record Store in Europe, I think. Hopefully others will agree with me. I think if you are in the Reykjavík area, you will not want to miss out on visiting us. We are very hopeful for the future. Long live Lucky Records!

Gestur: Hear, hear!

We say goodbye to the two friends that sit side by side with vinyl in their hand, sitting in the most comfortable sofa we ever sat in. Gestur waves us farewell, wearing his I heart Vinyl t-shirt, which is obviously what they both do. We wish them luck and great things in the future.

facebook.com/LUCKY-RECORDS
recordstoreday
ebay.com/19funkin73
discogs.com/19funkin73

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photograph: Nanna Dís

EVE online fanfest 2012 – #Day 3 music edition

We showed up at Harpa, excited to experience the night ahead, expecially since the line- up was so versatile and grand. We interviewed a lot of people and the place was packed with EVE´s fanfest guests and people that bought tickets to the music fest only. RöXör and Permaband were the first band we saw, and they rocked our socks off, while playing classical rock songs in great costumes accompanied with guest performers and multiple singers.

Next on stage was the ever so great Icelandic rock band HAM, wich had a great comeback with their album they released in 2011, their first one in 16 years Svik, harmur og dauði. The heads were slamming, some people raised their phones or cameras to record a glimpse of the concert for rememberance.

Following HAM was the dubstep musician HaZaR, who is the man behind the track entitled Gimmix wich accompanies the Crucible Trailer for EVE online, and he performed a live set for the ever so great audience.

Lastly and not leastly we watched GusGus step on the stage, the electronical music group that blew us away with their amazingly great voices and atmosphere based build up in their set. Their last album Arabian Hourse is a record that is worth checking out.

We interviewed all those bands backstage, asking questions about EVE, computer games, musical relations to the virtual world and more.


Camera: Örvar Ingi & Sunna Guðrún Pétursdóttir
Interview/editing: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Futuregrapher

This time we head out to the west-est part of Reykjavík for our interview. There we meet Árni Grétar or Futuregrapher as he is better known, a high profile electronic musician. High profile by Icelandic standards anyway. If you are at all into the electronic music scene here in Iceland chances are that you have come across this guy at one point or another. He is not only a frequent act at various concerts but also co-founder of the newly founded and highly noticeable label Möller records and organizer of the Braindance consert series. Since Árni is himself between apartments at the moment we meet up with him at his girlfriend’s place. Her name is Þóranna and again if you are into the electronic music scene in Iceland, you might have heard of her as well under her alias Trouble. One of the first things I notice when we enter her living room is the beautiful ocean view. This came as a bit of a surprise as this is a basement apartment. Living on the coastline clearly has its benefits or in this case, having a girlfriend that does. Well enough dribble from me. Let the interview begin!

Why did you decide on the name Futuregrapher?

I remember it clearly. It was during the Gay-pride weekend in 2007. I was sitting on a bed, belonging to my, at the time, parents-in-law trying to think of a name to put on a new MySpace profile for the music I was making on my own, that is outside my band. And it just kind of came to me, Futuregrapher. It just sounded right, maybe because I was taking a lot of photographs at the time. You know: Photographer, Futuregrapher. Then I “googled” it and nothing came up, so that was that.

 When is it that you start making electronic music?

I have been making electronic music since I was about thirteen years old. My father, who was very musically oriented, played guitar and was always playing some music at our house. Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Genesis and stuff like that. He one day brought home a keyboard when I was about thirteen. At the time I was listening to Chemical Brothers, Underworld and Prodigy and had noticed some keyboards in their videos. So as soon as I saw this huge keyboard I thought to myself “this must be something good“. Before that I had been practicing playing guitar and saxophone. I started to fool around with the keyboard, started to make some beats and I haven´t been able to stop.

“dancing is my favorite thing to do”

You dance a lot on the stage while playing concerts. How did that come about?

Well that´s a story. When I first got the opportunity to play live I wasn´t sure how to do it, that is what equipment to bring. I called the event organizer, Bjössi Biogen, and asked him what I should bring to the concert. „What are you using“? He replied. When I told him that I used a bunch of equipment he said it was up to me. So, not knowing how to play live I brought almost all my gear, the whole studio. When the concert finally started I realized that there was no way for me to control all this equipment on stage. Maybe some people are able to control that many devices on their own, I can think of Fu Kaisha in that respect, but not me. So after that I decided that the best thing was to limit what was actually being played live on stage. So now I make a background for my tracks and then I use Ableton Live to play short loops I have prepared at home live on stage. This opened up the possibility for me to dance on stage. Which is good since dancing is my favorite thing to do. Dancing on stage short of became my hallmark.

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I heard you grew up in a small town. Where was that and how was the music scene there?

I grew up in Tálknafjörður, a small town in the west part of Iceland. There wasn´t a record store in Tálknafjörður so all the music I was listening to I had to order by post from Þruman, a legendary record store that used to be in Reykjavík. I called them a lot to buy records through the mail and when I finally met the guys running Þruman they asked me if I would like to start a small branch extension of the store in Tálknafjörður. Since my family was already running the video store in our Tálknafjörður I said sure. This was in the summer of ´97 and I was fourteen. But for the most part the people of Tálknafjörður where listening to Icelandic “sveitaballa” music (it is basically Icelandic country/dance music). The few listening to alternative music were me and my friends.

Your record store didn´t ignite an electronic “explosion” in Tálknafjörður?

No, but later my friends, Haukur and Jónas, and I started an electronic band called Equal which took part in Músík Tilraunir (a music competition for young musicians) and we made it to the finals. When we returned home there were a few new local electro bands.

Equal was active for some years. We played some gigs here in Reykjavík and released an album, which is currently unavailable, but I have been thinking of maybe uploading the album to the Internet sometime soon.

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Engihjalli Ambient

Can you tell us about how you make your music?

Sure. First it has to be said that I listen to a lot of music, of every kind. This is what inspires me and this inspiration fills me with a pleasant feeling that makes me take a seat in front of my computer to make music. Usually I start with finding a nice pad-sound, or maybe a melody played on a midi-input device or the computer keyboard through Ableton Live or Reason. Then come drums and bass.

“inspiration is crucial”

I have also made music while feeling bad and that always ends up in the songs being very dark. But making music comes pretty naturally for me. When I start I usually have an idea in my head of how I want the song to be and usually the end result is pretty close to what I imagined. Although, it has to be said, that I wished that I was better at mixing songs.

But anyway, inspiration is crucial. Without it, or without the help of the muse as I sometimes say, I can´t finish a song. For me making music is a spiritual process. I think music making is a spiritual craft, not a physical one.

Have you ever had a draught period, spiritually speaking?

No. I think I have been making music constantly since 1996. I´ve made a whole lot of tracks no one has ever heard, with the exception of a few friends maybe.

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Tjarnarbiogen

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Can you tell us about Möller records? How did that come about?

Me and Jóhann Ómarsson (a.k.a Skurken) started Möller records. Jóhann asked me come over to his place to eat some bacon flavored snacks. He likes to have people over and also likes his bacon snacks. It sounds like a bad date and in retrospect I guess it was. Anyway he was playing some tracks of his new album, which then had yet to be released. I had been releasing some EP’s of my own and was interested in relishing some more music so we just decided to start a record company. Originally we named it Tom Tom records.

It just so happened that at the time Jóhann’s friend Þorsteinn (a.k.a. Prince Valium) had been planing to release his own album, an album that Jóhann had a hand in mastering, so there straight away we had three artist on the label. Soon after I heard from Tonik and Steve Sampling who also were interested in releasing their albums so in the first month (we started it in January) it became quite big.

After that we started to make our own CDs and we opened a website, which has been very popular since the opening day. There you can stream all our albums order them, or buy MP3s´. To my amazement people are still buying the old albums, which came out in February and April.

Later I decided to start a concert series under the label called Braindance (or Heiladans in Icelandic). I kind of did it out of necessity since the Weirdcore events had been cancelled. Were various artist are playing, not only the ones that are signed on our label. It is a short of an assembly, once a month. It´s held at Hemmi & Valdi, on the third Thursday every month.

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Worm Is Green remix – “Around The Fire (Futuregrapher 43 Mix)”

What´s in the future for Möller records?

Muria just released his six track mini LP. I am personally very excited about that. He isn´t well known in Iceland but people should recognize his little brother Jónas (a.k.a. Ruxpin). And we also just released a new compilation album, which we hope to make into a regular thing. The idea is that young or new electronic musicians can send us their tracks and if we like them they would be featured on the next Möller compilation disk. We plan to make two, maybe three of these a year. Later we plan on releasing the first official PLX (Marlon & Tania) EP album, currently a work in progress.

“Möller, it doesn´t get more Icelandic than that”

You said that the label was originally named Tom Tom. Now it is called Möller. What´s the story behind that?

It´s a funny story actually. Tom Tom is a well know international name for a type of drum or drum sound. So during our bacon snack meeting we came up with the Tom Tom name and both liked it. We decided to check out it´s availability, so we “googled” it and descovered a lot of companies using the name Tom Tom. There is a Tom Tom Club, Tom Tom jewelry shop, Tom Tom Children Hospital and etc. We thought that one more couldn´t do any harm. But then there´s the huge Tom Tom GPS company in Holland and they have an Icelandic branch and some lawyers working for them over here. So when we started the company and got some media coverage they were quick to spot us.

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We got a letter from them threatening to sue if we didn´t change the name. The lawyers even had some suggestion for a new name of our company, all pretty absurd, suggestion like Bang Bang records or something of that kind. But we had to change the name. And we decided on Möller records because we love Helga Möller (the Icelandic singer), especially during her period in the band Þú og ég. Möller, it doesn´t get more Icelandic than that. It even has the Icelandic letter Ö. Since then I´ve met Helga and she is thrilled with the name.

So what is next for Futuregrapher?

Continue working for Möller and organizing the Braindance concerts. I am also working on my first LP, called Hrafnagil. Originally it was supposed to come out this year (2011) but I decided to re-record it using new studio techniques I´ve been working on. So I guess I´ll release it next year. Plus I´ll try to continue playing concerts that hopefully is giving me the right idea of how my music is perceived and what people like. People actually seem to enjoy the music I do that has a faster beat more than the more relaxed stuff. And they still seem to enjoy watching me dance.

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We say goodbye to Futuregrapher in Trouble’s basement apartment and head home with a smile on our faces. We drank coffee there. Coffee is good.

Note, since the interview took place Möller records have also released a new album by Intro Beats. Check out Intro Beats and all the other Möller artists at www.mollerrecords.com

 

futuregrapher.com
soundcloud.com/futuregrapher
facebook/futuregrapher
raftonar.is/futuregrapher-tungata – Free EP
raftonar.is/futuregrapher-tomtom-bike – Information about last LP

Interview/editing: Hallur Örn Árnason
Camera: Björgvin Sigurðsson
Photographs: 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