múm are one of Iceland’s most successful (and magical) musical exports. This month sees the release of their 4th album, go go smear the poison ivy [Fat Cat, UK]. Coming three years after the release of their acclaimed third album summer make good' it’s the cause of much excitement for the band’s ever-growing global fan base. A colourful, twitching and playful work of art, full of life affirming energy, the album has been preceded by the mysterious single 'they made frogs smoke 'til they exploded'.
Espousing a familiar otherworldly aura, múm have once again managed to make an experimental record that’s infused with a subtle pop sensibility.
IMX tracked down founding member Örvar for a chat…
It’s been three years since your last album, and fans have obviously been waiting with great anticipation for something new. What have you been doing mainly in this time?
We toured quite a lot after Summer Make Good and we wore our selves out, so after that whole gypsy period we took almost a year off from the band. I went to Prague for that time where I studied screenwriting and cinema history as well as focusing on my writing and other projects. After that we put our instruments back in the suitcases and went to record this one.
What did you personally want to achieve with this album? Was it a conscious move away from earlier stuff, or a direct continuation?
There is no clear goal when we open up for a creative process like this, it's more a case of putting yourself in the right position and letting things flow. You could call that and organic progression, whether it is conscious or not is harder to say.
What are your favourite aspects of the new album? What key things make you happy with it – the production? Certain songs? Vocal parts? Overall aura?
I am happy with doing much more singing on this one than before. Overall I am very happy with the whole album, I haven’t listened to it for months, but the memory of it sits nicely.
Where was the album recorded? I heard stories about Finland and a music school in Ísafjördur…
I think we recorded it in about 10 maybe 12 different places and most of them were a really nice experience. The best places were probably the music school in Ísafjördur and the island schoolhouse in Finland, these places were both fertile places to record: things really came alive there.
The band always seems to be expanding and changing. Can you give us a breakdown of current personnel?
Samuli Kosminen our Finnish drummer has been with us since before Finally We Are No-One. Eiríkur Orri has been with us pretty much since the first recordings and Ólöf Arnalds has toured and played with us for the last 4 years probably so they are all very important collaborators and play a big part in the heart of the whole thing. Hildur Gudnadóttir has also played with us on and off since the beginning, so it's hard to say she is new to the whole thing, even though this is the first album she plays a big part of and she does play a very big role on this album. Mr. Silla is probably the only newbie on the record and her input is hypnotising.
You’ve played some pretty amazing gigs since Summer Make Good - what have been the best ones for you guys personally?
Taiwan was very special, I don't think a lot of groups come there so it makes everything more glowing and people are more receptive. This summer in Paris was very beautiful, we played in a circus tent of some sorts and Pascal Comelade played before us and I have wanted to see him play for a very long time.
Has the live set up changed much for this album?
Well, it's always gonna keep changing, sometimes taking sharp turns and sometimes just slowly evolving. That's the way it goes and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Stability isn’t a goal of ours.
And what are your touring plans now that the album is released?
U.S. in the autumn and then Europe and then probably beyond and a few more circles. We will play where people want us to play.
Finally: Gunnar and Orvar - what are you up to individually outside of the mum project?
I am writing and doodling and working on my books on the side and Gunni does a lot of recording and producing for other bands. I think we might even see his alter project Illi Vill come alive in the near future.