Rolling Stone Magazine’s Dave Fricke
“An incredible group ! ”
“One of the bands to watch for the future”
Katrina Mogensen Vocals,piano
Vilborg Dýradóttir Bass
Alexandra Baldursdóttir Guitar
Arnar Pétursson Guitar
Andri Jakobsson Drums
MAMMÚT are a band from Reykjavik, Iceland consisting of three girls and two boys still in their teens, but with a first class musical heritage.
Singer Katrina’s father (Birgir Mogensen) played in the influential pre-Sugarcubes band KUKL with Björk. Arnar is the son of the foremost classical guitarist in Iceland, and bassist Vilborg is the younger sister of Orri Páll Dýrason, the drummer of the highly respected band Sigur Ros.
In 2004, three months after forming, Mammút won the annual battle of the bands (Músíktilraunir) competition in Iceland . This competition has been the springboard for some of the most promising bands and artists in Iceland.
Since then Mammút have been playing gigs all over Iceland and Europe, including recent supports with Belgian art rockers dEUS, to a great response.
Their music has developed into something quite unique; distinctive vocals and angular guitars held together by brilliant melodic bass and powerful drums.
Last autumn Mammút played a breakthrough show in Reykjavik, that attracted international attention from visiting Rolling Stone journalist Dave Fricke, who called Mammút a really good band, Music Week (UK) which named them as a band to watch for the future,and the respected Playlouder.com website describing them as "incredible".
Mammút's eponymous debut was released in Iceland on the legendary Sugarcubes founded Smekkleysa (Bad Taste) label, in spring 2006 to critical acclaim and commercial success, including a number one airplay single with the track Thorkell. Rolling Stone Magazine recently gave the album a positive review comparing singer Katrína to Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah´s The band are in the process of writing their debut English language album.
Article by Kristrún Heiða Hauksdóttir
Katrína Mogensen is perhaps not a typical 17- year- old Icelander. She is a talented singer, songwriter and lyricist with the band Mammút, whose's much anticipated debut album is now in stores.
The band, named after the pre-historic mammoth, was formed three years ago and got received it's first break in 2004 when they won Músíktilraunir, an annual band competition aimed to promoteat promoting new bands. The three young girls and two boys got together and won the competition, and the singer explains that from then on "everything just sort of happened". "We are doing things now that we never knew we could do," says Katrína. "I had now idea that I would write music that would end up on a CD. It is kind of weird—, we where just fooling around and suddenly we were composing our own songs. It happened really fast."
The girls are now seventeen years old and the boys a little older, and their music has changed a bit since their first performances. "We hardly knew each other when we started. Us girls where great friends, and the boys knew each other, but the five of us where not friends. But that has all changed now and we are becoming closer. It is really funny because our music has evolved so much— - as we grow closer, our music changes. It was a bit odd to compose or make music when we didn't know each other. Nobody dared to say 'this sucks' to anyone, but now we are becoming more open and honest," explains Katrína. "We are all good friends, but we do not spend that much time together outside the band."
Their music as been described as a unique mixture of innovative quirkiness and melodic rock, but Katrína says that it is difficult to categorisze their sound. "I think of it as kind of light music, sometimes it sounds like pop, but certain songs have a funk or punk feel to them." The music is a lively and energetic mixture from all kinds of music. "It is so ridiculous how different our tastes in music are., We are not working within any specific genre. It is never, let's do a bit more indy or a bit more rock". The debut disc has a lot of many different songs, ranging from the first one's we made to the most recent ones, and the listeners will be able to sense the growth of the band in the songs." Mammút is a democratic band, and they have developed together. The girls did not have any background in music, but the boys had been playing drums and guitar. Katrína says that they all compose together— - everybody has something in each song, although she makes writes most of the lyrics.
Not a candidate for the Icelandic idol
"I have always listened to a lot of music, of all kinds. s of music - Mmy personal taste in music is very diverse. I am currently listening to a disc by Brian Eno and David Byrne which I really like. But I take these turns—, I might be listening to a lot of hard core acid music for one month, but then my head gets too, you know, and then I have to lighten things up again. and So I listen to Nick Drake or something and melt it down a bit," she says, laughing. Katrína also mentions Erykha Badu and Lisa Ekdahl among her favorites. At home, she often listens to classical music because her sister plays the cello. "I used to follow her to her music lessons. I tried and experimented with a lot of many different instruments but never had the patience to continue studying." SAt home she is also influenced by her father's interest in jazz. He, who used to be in bands when he was younger, and her boyfriend is also a jazz drummer.
Katrína used to sing in a choir and enjoys singing all kinds of music. "People have said to me that I must take care, not to publish anything, because then I can't participate in the Idol singing competition. I find this it really interesting and funny, in a way, that people really actually think that the Idol competition is a springboard to fame in the rock scene in Iceland. There are people that who think in this way and do not realisze howwho many good bands there are."
A part from the music, Katrína is currently studying in MH high school and wants to keep her options open once she finishes her secondary education. She is interested in many things, and, likes the idea of perhaps becoming a teacher or a journalist. But now her focus is on the music, and the band is determined to continue their work;, they want to travel and tour with their music. "That is what I want to do, play our music, all this other stuff, like making the record deal and getting to know the music business is really interesting, but I just want to play our music. We all look forward to finishing the album and getting started on some new material."
Times are changing
Since winning Músíktilraunir, the band has been very active, and their commitment to their music and their determination for the past 3 years has paid off. They have played a lot of different concerts for all age groups, and now they also have a manager working for them. "It is really easy to be in a band in Iceland, it is such a small country, but you cannot trust on music as to provide a steady income or anything; but however, it is easy to get gigs. You can be unrecognised but still get to play - —you do not need to prove yourself beforehand. There are many opportunities." Katrína still jokes about how small the music scene is. " I think I know all the bands in Reykjavík. Most of the time, you recognisze people in the crowd at concerts. Not that it's a big fan base or anything, just that it's usually the same people that is comeing to these types of concerts." She explains that this is one of the reasons why the band wants to play concerts abroad, "it is important to get 'new ears', new feed-back for our music." Katrína says that there is not much competition between the bands in Iceland, it is more of a relaxed environment and the bands support each other. "I know a lot of kids that are into music but are not trying to get any attention, they just get gigs and stay in the garage. It is really beautiful, they just want to play."
And these are very exciting times for the members of Mammút. Record label Smekkleysa (Bad Taste) offered them a record deal, which made them surprised them, but they are extremely happy. "I never thought about these things, like the paperwork. Sometimes I find it a bit boring, saying 'ohhh, can't somebody else take care of this'," but it is interesting."
When asked about the background of the band and the role of the her family, Katrína says that she is really happy that her parents have been so supportive. She says that it is the same with the rest of the band; it is the same, the parents allow them be independent. ". Many of their parents also have some musical background, which perhaps helps as well. "It was a bit difficult at first, sometimes our parents where sitting at home, worried about their 14- year- old girls playing a concert in a hall like Gaukur á Stöng where the audience was drinking and all that. But now everyone is getting used to what comes with this business." Their parents often come toattend the concerts, but Katrína is happy that they are allowed to do things their own way. "I would not want my mother to come to our practice and start cleaning the room or something.""
MySpace Video for "Þorkell"