mánudagur, desember 31, 2007

Icelandic Fireworks & "King of the dancefloor" by Hölt Hóra is the Song of the 42. Week

Gleðilegt nýtt ár - Happy New Year !

Video shot by an Icelandic friend of mine Finnur Þorgeirsson of http://www.photoshow.org/

Keep on listening to & making good Icelandic music in 2008 !

And keep on dancing on the 42. Song of the Week by Hölt Hóra: "King of the dancefloor"

Best Icelandic Albums of 2007 according to Atli Bollason

Top 10 of Best Icelandic Albums of 2007 according to Atli Bollason /
10 Bestu Íslensku Plötur Ársins 2007:
10. Björk - Volta
9. Seabear - The Ghost that Carried Us Away
8. Amiina -Kurr
7. Benni Hemm Hemm - Ein í leyni
6. Valgeir Sigurðsson -Ekvilibríum
5. For a Minor Reflection -Reistu þig við, sólin er komin á loft
4. Jakobínarína -The First Crusade
3. Sigur Rós - Hvarf/Heim
2. Ólöf Arnalds -Við og við
1. Hjaltalín - Sleepdrunk Seasons
0. Sprengjuhöllin: Tímarnir okkar (His own band btw)
Blogspot of Atli http://bollason.blogspot.com

sunnudagur, desember 30, 2007

Best Icelandic Albums ever - Feature in Kastljós TV Program

This year Sigur Rós Album "Ágætis Byrjun" was voted as Best Icelandic Album ever made. Because of this competition, Icelandic TV Program Kastljós asked some TV, Radio & Magazine personalities to give their Top 5 of the Best Albums ever made in Iceland.
Featuring albums by Hljómar, Fræbbblarnir, Das Kapital, Utangarðsmenn, Bubbi Morthens, Sogblettir, Spilverk þjóðanna, Stuðmenn, Bless, Ham, Sigur Rós, Purrkur Pillnikk, Björk, Tappi Tikarass, Jet Black Joe, Yukatan, Minus and múm a.o.
According to Andri Freyr Viðarsson(XFM Radio DJ), Heiða Eiríksdóttir (24 Stundir) (of the band Hellvar), Atli Bollason (of the band Sprengjuhöllin), Ólafur Páll Gunnarsson (RUV Poppland & Rokkland) & Ívar Guðmundsson.

laugardagur, desember 29, 2007

"Birthday" by The Sugarcubes Live @ Saturday Night Live @ NBC

The Sugarcubes performed their first Single "Birthday" Live @ Saturday Night Live Show (NBC)

Björk "Hyperballad" Brodsky Quartet Mix

Björk - "Hyperballad" Brodsky Quartet (Re)mix

Visitors / Visiting countries of "I love Icelandic Music" Blog

The Visitors of this blog "I love Icelandic Music" are mainly from the following countries, or all these countries love Icelandic Music:
  • United States of America
  • Iceland
  • United Kingdom
  • The Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Canada
  • France
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Australia
  • Spain
  • Poland
  • Mexico
  • Italy

Hope to keep you entertained & informed in 2008 !

Best Icelandic Albums of 2007 - Top 20 according to Rjóminn

TOP 20 of Best Icelandic Albums of 2007 according to Rjóminn / Topp 20 íslenskar plötur 2007:
#20. múm - Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy
#19. b. sig - Good Morning Mr. Evening
#18. Jakobínarína - The First Crusade
#17. Rökkurró - Það kólnar í kvöld...
#16. Skátar - Ghost of the Bollocks to Come
#15. I Adapt - Chainlike Burden
#14. Bloodgroup - Sticky Situation
#13. Páll Óskar - Allt fyrir ástina
#12. Gus Gus - Forever
#11. Hjálmar - Ferðasót
#10. Megas og Senuþjófarnir - Hold er mold
#9. Benny Crespo’s Gang - Benny Crespo’s Gang
#8. Björk - Volta
#7. Megas og Senuþjófarnir - Frágangur
#6. Sprengjuhöllin - Tímarnir okkar
#5. Ólöf Arnalds - Við og við
#4. Sigur Rós - Hvarf/Heim
#3. Hjaltalín - Sleepdrunk Seasons
#2. Mugison - Mugiboogie
#1. Seabear - The Ghost That Carried Us Away
Rjóminn www.rjominn.is/top/islenskt2007

föstudagur, desember 28, 2007

Best Icelandic Albums of 2007 according to Gummi Jóh

Top 10 List of Best Icelandic Albums of 2007 according to Gummi Jóh / Topp tíu listinn Islenskar plötur arsins:
1. Hjaltalín - Sleepdrunk Seasons Listen & Buy @ http://kimi.grapewire.net/album/268
2. Sigur Rós - Hvarf/Heim
3. Megas- Frágangur
4. Megas - Hold er mold
5. Seabear - The ghost that carried us away
6. Sprengjuhöllin - Tímarnir okkar
7. Mugison - Mugiboogie
8. Hjálmar- Ferðasót
9. Ólöf Arnalds - Við og við
10. Jakobínarína - The First Crusade
Source: http://gummijoh.net/category/mp3blog

More Hjaltalín: www.myspace.com/hjaltalinband
Record label of Hjaltalín is Kimi Records

Stuðmenn @ Royal Albert Hall (2005) - More songs

Stuðmenn @ Royal Albert Hall, London
24. March 2005
Stuðmenn were founded in school, @ "Menntaskólinn Hamrahlid" in Reykjavik. Their debut album "Sumar á Syrlandi" in 1975 became an instant success on the market and critics cheered the band frenetically as the milestone of Icelandic pop music. Their music combined high-flyingly merry and higgledy-piggledy varied songs, all with a twist, reflecting Icelandic characteristics and changing society by collected tunes and true icelandic lyrics. Now many years later they are still going strong.
"Mannstu ekki eftir mér?"
This song is called "Don't you remember me?" which I guess is about people that used to have a crush on each other and now meet many years later.

"Brátt kemur ekki betri tíð"

"Ofboðslega frægur" (Extremely famous)

"Semdu nú lag"

"Æ þú mannst ekki neitt!" (You don't remember anything)


"I love Icelandic Music" Iceland Airwaves Videos on Google Video

Elíza Geirsdóttir Newman performed "Stone Heart" @ Off-Venue Smekkleysa (Bad Taste) Record Shop/Pop, Rokk & Rosir 2nd Hand Shop @ Iceland Airwaves '07 Festival. A song of her Debut Album "Empire Fall" (Lavaland Records, 2007).

FM Belfast & Örvar of múm played "Back & Spine" @ the Icelandair Opening Party @ the Kjarval Museum (Kjarvalsstaðir) @ Iceland Airwaves '07 Festival.
Mammút performed the song "Þorkell" ("Thorkell") of their Debut Album on Smekkleysa Record Label @ Gaukurinn (Gaukur a stöng), gig on Tuesday, the evening before the official start of the Iceland Airwaves '07 Festival.

Videos shot by Wim Van Hooste

fimmtudagur, desember 27, 2007

Sprengjuhöllin Christmas song Live @ Icelandic TV

Sprengjuhöllin perform a Christmas song (Jólalag) Live @ Logi Bergmann Show (Stöd 2)

The band's first Album "Tímarnir okkar", according to many people one of the Best Icelandic Albums of 2007.
MySpace of Sprengjuhöllin: www.myspace.com/sprengjuhollin

Review of Jakobínarína's Album "The First Crusade"

Yesterday I got the CD of Jakobínarína in my post box. Here's the Review by Twisted Ear of this Album:
Jakobínarína Debut "The First Crusade"

Written by Mike Walker
The dark and gritty north: Iceland punk's in season

Reviewers, like all journalists, are supposed to provide a disclaimer of conflicting interest whenever they have some connection with an act they are reviewing; you know, if they know the drummer or their wife works for the record company or whatever. I don’t have a direct connection with Jakobínarína at all, so I think I'm in the clear, but I have to admit I liked these guys the moment I heard about them. They’re a bouncy post-adolescent hardcore/new punk band from Hafnarfjörður, Iceland and as a Nordic kid myself that wins some major points. Their myspace photos overflow with giddy, good-natured fun and punk boredom and . . . and . . . their keyboardist even has a Clavia synth in one photo! So who are these kids from Iceland playing my favourite brand of keyboard? And does their music match up to their first impression?
I’m quite happy to report yes on all counts. Jakobínarína, on their album The First Crusade come off as fresh, fast, fun, and very serious about playing some good music while not taking it all too seriously. Another reviewer called them (in the best terms possible) ”adolescent wastrels” and that description certainly fits: the overall feel of First Crusade is that of a punk record, from the short songs, the tight, uncomplicated drumming, brash guitars, and lyrics along the line of ”forget the scripts, forget the lyrics”. Lead vocalist Gunnar Bergmann's a booming, somewhat gruff, vocal presence that at first seemed a little out of place for the type of music he's singing but grows on you quickly. His voice is one of those distinctive ones of punk such as Darby Crash’s of the Germs or Peter Cortner’s of Dag Nasty.
Beyond that, Bergmann reminds me a lot of the Scottish folk-rock band Runrig's lead vocalist in places and while Jakobínarína might seem about as far from Runrig as possible, they take some surprising musical directions here and there, such as the surf-thrash influences on End of Transmission No. 6 and touches that range from synth-pop-inspired solos and intros to Beach Boys-influenced harmony on choruses. In fact, on their MySpace page, the band cites so wide a range of musical influences including The Beach Boys and Madonna that you tend to think they're joking at first. After listening to their record, however, I think they are telling the truth. Like Peter Cortner-era Dag Nasty, they're fast and often cynical in their lyrics (check out the opening track, Monday I'm in Vain for a prime example) but also always upbeat and seemingly out to tilt at some windmills and overcome the evils of boredom whenever, wherever, however. There is no doubt that Jakobínarína will be listed by the music press as a neo-punk band, but they are clearly far more than that and really, a group that has grown up absorbing a wealth of influences and wound up creating music that bespeaks that varied background. Even with lyrics that tread the path of irony, heartbreak, and angst that are trademarks of young bands everywhere, these guys are doing things a bit differently.
It's always interesting to me how English is the default language of pop and rock and from a number of animé theme songs to an Icelandic punk band we have non-native speakers singing with good cheer and crafty lyrics in English. The Danish synth-pop band Nørdstrom is one exception I can think of where a major act decided to sing in their native language despite and obvious bid for Europe-wide stardom . . . even the Turkish pop prince Tarkan has taken (with rather sad results) to recording some songs in English. Jakobínarína of course sounds like bored, disaffected youth anywhere but at the same time, they really work their stylistics with language and lyrics into something consummate and engaging, just as their melodies are the same. There's definite craft here—look no further than songs such as Call for Advice and Sleeping in Seattle. In fact, Sleeping in Seattle is one of the deftest and most interesting songs I've heard in a long while, though it's one that grows on you and I don't know how good a single it would make. On the other hand, This is an Advertisment—with a title worthy of the Sex Pistols or Germs—is really a rather plodding and mundane song; like most young bands, Jakobínarína is at their best when writing and singing about their lives and the listless condition of modern youth than a topic such as corporate sponsorship that's been rather mined for all it's worth already.
One thing that really is outstanding on First Crusade is the use of keyboards, a wide sonic palate, and the combination of energy and discipline in how these songs are performed. Not a single track on this record sounds over-engineered or too forced into form for the studio, but they don't—with the exception of some vocals and what appear to be sampled sound effects—become muddy or wander out of control, either. Part of this is probably the intervention of seasoned producers and engineers, but I suspect the band themselves have a very clear idea of their directions. The presence of keyboards on what is for lack of a better term a punk album really furthers the depth of Jakobínarína's sound, also.
I suspect that the music press with play up Jakobínarína's Icelandic roots and their young age, plus the whole angle of their neo-punk sound. Fair enough, I've done all the above in this review myself, but I also hope that the sheer quality of this record isn't lost on anyone. Being from Iceland when you're a rock musician cannot be said to be a bad thing at all, but I hope these kids will be taken for more than just a new act from a novel place. In fact, Jakobínarína is building a strong following via touring the UK with gigs coming up all over England, Scotland, and Wales from September into October this year. By all accounts I've heard and from listening to the album itself, I'd wager these guys are very much worth seeing live. As for the album, for a first-out-the-gates by a young band? Very impressive work. A few complaints on the wisdom of certain lyrics and the sense of cluttered vocals here and there but far better writing and music than most bands working in this genre and a really unique sound overall. I think we'll being seeing a lot more of Jakobínarína in the future.

They have a nice website: www.jakobinarina.com
People in UK & Ireland can watch a MTV Spanking New Session @ www.mtv.co.uk/overdrive/spanking_new_sessions/id/61428/spanking_new_sessions__jakobinarina

Best Icelandic Albums of 2007 - Top 10 of Egill Hardar

Top 10 List of Best Icelandic Albums of 2007 / Topp tíu listinn of Egill Hardar:
1. Sigur Rós - Hvarf/Heim
2. Mugison – Mugiboogie
3. B.Sig - Good morning Mr. Evening
4. Jakóbínarína – The first crusade
5. Hjaltalín – Sleepdrunk seasons
6. Wulfgang – Wulfgang
7. Múm - Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy
8. Megas og Senuþjófarnir – Frágangur
9. Sometime – Supercalifragilisticexpialidocius
10. Megas og Senuþjófarnir – Hold Er Mold
Source: http://egillhardar.com/music

Mugison & Pétur Ben Live @ Reykjavik's Organ

Under the christmas tree of Organ (a venue downtown Reykjavik): guitar player Pétur Ben & Mugison

Hinn íslenski þursaflokkur & Caput @ Laugardalshöll / 23. February 2008

Next year, Hinn íslenski Thursaflokkur & Caput, 2 Icelandic bands who cover 30 years of Icelandic music history, will perform @ Laugardalshöll, Reykjavik.
Date: 23. February 2008.
Þursarflokkur celebrates their 30th Anniversary, 'cause their first gig was in February 1978.

The website of Caput for more information is www.musik.is/Caput/index-e.html

miðvikudagur, desember 26, 2007

Benni Hemm Hemm Live @ Paradiso @ Fab Channel

Benni Hemm Hemm (BHH) Live @ Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
"Sex eda Sjö"

See the whole BHH Show @ Fab Channel @ www.fabchannel.com/benni_hemm_hemm_concert
More of Benni's Band @ BHH Homepage www.bennihemmhemm.com & BHH MySpace www.myspace.com/bennihemmhemm

The history of the Punk Band Q4U

In 1996 I saw the band Q4U life @ Rosenberg venue, along with the bands Unun and Fraebbblarnir @ a sort of retrospective concert downtown Reykjavik.Steinþór Stefánsson, bass player in the pioneering Icelandic punk group Fræbbblarnir, Gunnþór Sigurðsson roadie for Utangarðsmenn, another Icelandic punk group, Helgi the drummer and Ellý the singer started the punk group Q4U in April 1981. The group´s policy was not to rehearse, so that the group played 12 gigs before rehearsing for the first time.
Soon the singer Linda and the synthesizer player Már joined. Már soon quit. Kommi (Kormákur Geirharðsson, then playing with Taugadeildin, Oxsmá and later Langi Seli og Skuggarnir, K.K. and others) replaced Helgi as a drummer. In the winter of 1981-1982 Q4U often played with Fræbbblarnir, and the group became part of the Rokk í Reykjavík film project, with several of its songs filmed for the documentary. At that time the line-up was Linda, Ellý, Gunnþór, Steinþór and Kommi.
Photograph of Ellý

The group´s stylish and aggressive punk image led to its strong presence in the documentary Rokk í Reykjavík, and catapulted the group from being a despised punk act to becoming one of the hottest bands of the moment. Despite this there were some differences in the group. Steinþór was still a full time member of Fræbbblarnir, with a heavy working schedule in both bands. In the spring of 1982 the old line up recorded all its material in the rehearsal location in Hafnarfjörður. These recordings were called Skafið or Skaf í dag, referring to the low quality stuff or leftovers which was available at the time. After this the group split, every member going off in his own direction. Ellý started working with Árni Daníel in the synthesizer group Handan grafar (Beyond the Grave). Árni Daníel had previously worked with Steinþór in the punk group Snillingarnir (Geniuses) and with Kommi in Taugadeildin. Árni´s sister, Anna Guðrún was also a member of Handan grafar, and a girl named Birna.
Handan grafar was going nowhere fast, so Ellý asked Árni Daníel to join her and Gunnþór in a group that eventually kept the name Q4U. In the summer of 1982 Óðinn Guðbrandsson the guitar player, formerly of Taugadeildin, joined the group. This line-up, with a drum machine, appeared in the rock festival of Melarokk in the summer of 1982, and was well received. This line-up recorded all its material at its rehearsal studio by Rauðavatn in the outskirts of Reykjavík,, and four of those songs appear on the CD Q2.
In the fall of 1982 Danny Pollock, formerly of Utangarðsmenn and Bodies joined the group instead of Óðinn. This line-up recorded the debut Q1 over the New Year 1982-1983 in Grettisgat, the studio owned by Stuðmenn and Þursaflokkurinn in Grettisgata in Reykjavík. There was no drummer, the drums provided by the drum machine Elizabeth II (a TR-808 Roland machine). This six-song EP received surprisingly good reviews and sold rather well. The group seemed to be sailing a favourable winds with support from both critics and public.
In the spring of 1983 Kommi joined the group again, and this line-up finally achieved a live sound corresponding to the studio material, discarding the drum-machine. The group played a series of concerts, with a high point being a support slot for Classix Nouveaux in Laugardalshöllin in the summer of 1983. However, even if the group was now well established the rock´n roll lifestyle was beginning to take its toll, and in the autumn Árni Daníel quit to pursue a career in journalism. The last thing the group did before 1996 was to record five songs in a studio near Selfoss, in the countryside, and four of these appeared on the CD Q2 published in 1996.
The sound of the second version of Q4U was rather different than the hard-core punk of the first line-up. It had strong gothic leanings, with synthesizers playing a large role. Some have compared it to the music of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and it was indeed an inspiration at the time, but there was much good music being produced at the time in the wake of punk, and all this was an inspiration, from the Pop Group to New Order.
It could be argued that the group did not exploit the potential it had, but in the summer of 1985 Ellý and Árni Daníel, together with Árni´s brother Ingólfur were active again with the group Þetta er bara kraftaverk (This is just a miracle). This group continued some aspects of the Q4U sound and so is included in the CD Q2 with the song Snjóhvít, which is about the joys of cocaine. Þetta er bara kraftaverk had a short lifetime, and after that Ellý ceased to be active in music for a long while. As she had always been the face of the group, it also disappeared.
This, however, changed in 1996. In the wake of the ´success´of the Sex Pistols reunion, there was a renewed interest in punk, and in Iceland both Fræbbblarnir and Q4U reappeared with retrospective CD´s. Both CD´s sold surprisingly well, especially Fræbbblarnir, but also Q4U. Both groups reunited for a series of retrospective concerts - Q4U exclusively with old material - which were well attended, and Q4U even appeared on national television. The old Icelandic punk guard had reestablished its name and reconfirmed its status.
Source: http://notendur.centrum.is/~ingjul/histr.html

Reptilicus "Crusher of Bones" (1990)

Reptilicus' LP "Crusher Of Bones"
Released: 1990
Genre: Electronic
Style: Industrial, Electro, Noise, Experimental
Co-producer: Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson
A1 Snakes (3:45)
A2 Sluice (3:00)
A3 808 (3:05)
A4 Pirate Paradise (8:55)
B1 Call Me Jesus (3:18)
B2 Ointment (11:51)
B3 Washington (2:06)
Another Song, "Shrimpy Dog", can be found on Smekkleysa/Bad Taste Compilation Volume 1: "World Domination or Death"
Album available @ www.smekkleysa.net

XXX Rottweiler Hundar "Hvernig ertu"

XXX Rottweiler Hundar
"Hvernig ertu"


Vinyl Video "Who gets the blame"

Vinyl "Who gets the blame" Video

Hairdoctor - The Videos

"Doing something" Shot by Einar Snorri, featuring Perlan (The Pearl)

"Indian Princess"

"Major Label"


þriðjudagur, desember 25, 2007

Amiina Live @ Paris

Amiina Live @ Point Ephemere, Paris.


Icelandic Songs of the Week of 2007

It's the time of the year to make some lists:

My Icelandic Songs of the Week of 2007

I started with the Song of the Week 18. March 2007.
1. Ensími Slow return
2. Ampop Sail to the moon
3. Eberg Plastic lions
4. Hellvar Electric toy
5. Mammút Þorkell
6. Mínus Futurist
7. Pétur Ben White tiger
8. Jeff Who? Death before disco
9. Bogomil Font & Flís Eat your car
10. Funí Morgunbæn
11. Bang Gang It’s alright
12. Ólöf Arnalds Í nýju húsi
13. Þór Eldon & Dagur Sigurðarson Daudaskammtur
14. Benni Hemm Hemm Snjór Ljós Snjór
15. Dyrðin Hunangsdropar
16. Kimono Japanese Policemen
17. Lada Sport Tango in the valley of death
My Holiday
My Holiday

20. Steindór Andersen & Sigur Rós Fjöll í Austri Fagurblá
21. Hafdís Huld Ski jumper
22. The Way Down Bring me the sun
23. Jan Mayen We just want to get everybody high
24. Retro Stefson Medallion
25. Yukatan House
26. Emiliana Torrini Gollum’s Song
27. Hudson Wayne Coffee
28. Fræbbblarnir Ó Fræbbblar vors lands
29. Ham Voulez-vous
30. Brúðarbandid Sid
31. Worm is Green Love will tear us apart
32. Mr Silla & Mongoose Ten foot bear
33. Unun Mexikó
34. Elíza Empire Fall
35. Bloodgroup Moving like a tiger
36. Morðingjarnir Airwaves
37. Motion Boys Hold me closer to your heart
38. Ólafur Arnalds Himininn er að hrynja en störnurnar fara Þér vel
39. Dimma Mama
40. Jóhann G. Jóhannsson Kjötsúpa
41. Stafrænn Hákon & Unstatuesque Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

I hope to bring you in 2008 more good Icelandic music, some Icelandic classics but also brand new songs.

"Einn i heiminum" Video for Ofvirkni

Ofvirkni Video for the song "Einn i heiminum"

Icelandic Record Labels - Update

Riceboy Sleeps - The Videos

Riceboy Sleeps
This is a project by Jon "Jónsi" Thor Birgisson (of Sigur Rós fame) & his boyfriend Alex Somers on Moss Stories Label

"Daníell In the Sea" Video

"All the big trees"


I love Icelandic Music @ Airwaves

Soma FM took a photograph of the audience @ the gig of Skakkamanage @ Rifskinna Finlandia Party @ Organ @ Iceland Airwaves '07.
Featuring my "I love Icelandic Music" T-shirt:
Source: SOMA FM http://somafm.com/blogs/rusty/2007/10/some-of-standout-acts-tonight-at.html

sunnudagur, desember 23, 2007

After Hours Magazine # 24 N(Y)ICELAND Issue

When you're not yet famous, they say I'm Big in Belgium ... But Iceland is Big in Japan. That is something completely different!

The Japanese After Hours Magazine has a Special Iceland Edition.
# 24 is called N(Y) Iceland and contains also bonus material (3 Bonus Discs & 1 Bonus Book)
Price: ¥2,520
A5 - 86 pages
Release Date: 25. December 2007
DISC1/ CD Newfangled Reykjavik


Olof Arnalds
Reprasensitive Man
FM Belfast
Mr. Silla and Mongoose ※
Kira Kira ※
Paul Lydon ※
Lost in Hildurness
Kitchen motors ※
(※ previously unreleased)

DISC2/DVD Rafskinna〜Japan Edition www.myspace.com/rafskinna Featuring:
Hugleikur Dagsson
Inga Birgisdottir
Kristjan Lodmfjord
Hikaru Toda

Rafskinna "Fiskur" Trailer

After Hours Website: http://www.afterhoursmagazine.jp/main/magazines/afterhours_issue24.php

Interview with Biggi Veira

Interview with Birgir Þórarinsson aka Biggi Veira of GusGus
By Guy Hornsby
There was no plan, no clue where this would go.” Biggi Veira, early member and chief musician of Icelandic triumvirate GusGus sits relaxed, in the gently pulsating surroundings of a central London record shop, casting back to the formative days of the band. “But I reckon now I’d be doing music forever, in some form. It’s too good to give up”. It’s a twelve-year journey that in 2007 has culminated in their 5th studio album, the aptly-named ‘Forever’.
GusGus are not what would be classed as an average dance music outfit. In fact, back in the beginning, they were much more of a collective, a group of like-minded friends and acquaintances, with an idea that they could make music, or film, or anything…. . Musicians, actors, singers, photographers, all from Reykjavik’s melting pot of culture and creativity, they gradually formed a proto-band in 1995, GusGus in name, but not in any sense akin to what we see today.
Formed originally with the production of a film in mind, when the impetus (and money) dried up, Biggi Veira it was the score that then became their focus, and signified Biggi’s first involvement with the band. Their self-titled first ‘album’ “just a compilation of stuff from the first few years” saw them signed to 4AD, and become a going musical concern. But the early years and albums were years of upheaval in the band and the music.
Polydistortion’ and ‘This Is Normal’, while both critical successes, and a showcase of the band’s desire to merge audio and visual themes to devastating live effect, brought scant financial reward, and, in 2000, with the advent of the new millennium, seven of the original members departed, leaving just Veira and Stephan Stephensen (the gloriously monikered President Bongo) to forge ahead. But Biggi doesn’t see it as a negative: “It was what was just happening, and we just adjusted to it basically. But it was all steps in a progression, it was never a drawback”. With vocalist Earth completing the trio soon after, (and a last 4AD album, ‘GusGus v T-World’ sealing the past) they regrouped to work on their next album, which would become 2002’s ‘Attention’, and put them firmly on the musical map in Europe and beyond.
The album was released on Darren Emerson’s Underwater imprint, and saw immediate success, with a string of singles – David, Call Of The Wild, Desire – that crossed over onto the dancefloors of Europe and re-cast the band with a more club-centric sound, even if it wasn’t the first intention. “I feel that on each album we have progressed,” says Veira, tracing the development over the years. “From the first to the second album it progressed maybe in a way that I wasn’t maybe too keen on, [but] the progression to Attention, it was the step forward I was aiming for.”
Fast forward to 2007, and Forever (released on their own Pineapple Records, and via former Underwater contact Matt Stuart’s Gung-Ho! imprint) has been a fair wait. But while the hunger for a follow-up existed, the band bided their time. “We had an album ready to release two years back, and of course it was closer to [Forever], had some of the same tracks, but it was [too] similar to Attention.” Was it a question of waiting till the music fitted more closely to where GusGus was heading? “The concept of degeneration was a lot on my mind when I was working on the music [this time]. But degeneration not as a bad thing, but as a progression.”
And while many tracks do bear the hallmarks of the previous album, change was a central theme.
“Attention was like other stuff at the time – Electroclash was big at the time – a mix of punk and some drum-orientated music. With Forever I’m trying to progress the music, it’s [about] losing a bit of its simplicity.”
But before Biggi falls into oft-played out self-aggrandising that often blights his talented (and not so) peers, he’s quick to rationalise his talents.
“I would describe us as musicians. We’re not producers, so it’s difficult to me to take the tracks and point them in a certain direction.” But, as some recent efforts from so-called DJs and producers have resulted in bloated collections of club tracks, less ‘albums’ and more extended EPs, he cheekily affirms his own beliefs: “producing an album in that way with that dynamic… maybe that will reveal who are the producers and who are the musicians.”
So what is GusGus’ sound? Can it be pinned down?
“Most of [our tracks] have a strong melody to them. And we’ve always had great vocals.”
This is evidenced again on Forever. With Daniel Agust’s (a former member pre-2000) mesmerising efforts on Moss, and Pall Oskar’s on Need In Me. It’s certainly a style that’s always found a kindred sprit in the UK, where they’ve arguably enjoyed some of their biggest success.
But while to the casual observer, the links between the volcanic extremes of Iceland and Britain’s stoicism may be tenuous, Biggi has his own theory.
“I think the culture that’s come closest to Iceland is the UK. There’s a link in our humour, our irony, and the fundamentals in life. Basically, we’re [both] peasants” he says, before qualifying his statement with a laugh: “it’s good – peasants are cool!”
Certainly, both countries had a big punk scene, which meant influences crossing the Atlantic, and not with any of our neighbours – “the Germans, they are too gay to be punk! The Scandinavians are just too Scandinavian!! The punk scene changed Icelandic music completely and most of the music was based on that.” And Biggi seems to give a knowing nod to the past. He’s an effervescent character, full of energy and the spirit of his musical predecessors, but married with an intelligence and logic fitting to the swathes of electronica which encapsulates GusGus’ sound.
So, almost three decades after punk, and how have things changed? The internet, Cds, software.
“There have always been a lot of records that are not very good. [With downloads] I think it holds hands a bit with the change of availability. In Iceland it’s two years since the last vinyl shop closed down. So Beatport is saving my life!”
But does this mean more chaff and less wheat? Is it harder to pick up interesting music with so much to choose from?
“The more stuff is put out, the more of a gap there will be for something different.”
To Biggi, it’s subtle changes, and trying to understand the dynamic behind them. Take the minimal techno scene:
“There’s a change to last year. It’s sexy. It’s [more] about the groove, more musical”. But the importance lies with the innovators, not repetition of successful music. “There are always things that are genuine genius. I think if people focus more on the genuine genius than on the sound and the patterns themselves, then it’ll take music forward. If it’s drowned in the formula and the pattern it will die.”
So what will 2007 hold for GusGus?
With Forever finally out, will they finally return to the UK? “We’ve not played since [Back To] Basics in 2005. Of course we want to come back. We are hoping to do some sort of mini-tour off the album. I promise it won’t be so long…” There is pair of performances at Glastonbury now rubber-stamped, so it seems that we will once again bear witness to a band that is rightly exalted as unique, both musically and figuratively.
How many British artists would lists relaxing pursuits as climbing?
“I regularly go and take a mountain and just… do it!”
Maybe it’s just Iceland, a land free of hustle and bustle, and blessed with stunning beauty that seems to lend a laconic and rounded attitude to its inhabitants.
“All environments have good and bad things. The environment will affect you in a way, but it is always upon the individuals about that what we produce. So I must just think that we are just great musicians?!”
Half joking, maybe, but with GusGus it’s pleasure in music that seems to be their overriding raison-d’etre. Long may it continue.

Top 150 Indie Albums of 2007 - Icelandic Contributions

Top 150 Indie Albums of 2007 according to
Icelandic Albums in this list:
61. Björk -Volta http://www.bjork.com/
95. múm - Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy http://www.mum.is/
147. Sigur Rós - Hvarf/Heim http://www.sigur-ros.co.uk/

Björk & Keiko by Kjuregej

Kjuregej Alexandra Argunova
Looking over past issues I felt like there was time for getrvk.com to interview someone older therefore wiser and has marked its name into the Icelandic art scene all together. Diverse and more fun character is harder to find and I'm very glad to introduce you to this lady.
Alexandra Kjuergej Argunova or Kjurgej as I am used to call her is originally from Sákha - Jakutia, but has been living here in Iceland for about 40 years. She's raised to hard conditions and totally unlike most I've ever heard of, lost here father young in the second world war and was raised by her single mother with her two siblings. In the freezing lands of Siberia.
In 1966 she moved to Moscow and attended the Moscow Art Theater School and has been teaching theatre and expression here in Iceland for 25 years and has worked and put up whole plays with mentally and physically disabled as well as working as an art therapist for the public hospital. But she is mostly known for her art work but it wasn't until 1980 when she attended an art show in Denmark where the artist used only textile, she got bewitched by that form which is called Application.
"When I was young I used to carve all kinds of sculptures in wood but my serious interest to make art and application's didn't start until long after Theater school, arriving in Iceland and teaching art therapy. I love how alive textile can be, later on though I new I wanted to learn something more."
In 1993-1994 she lived in Barcelona and studied at Academia de la Escúela Massana and finished what is called mosaic and mixed techniques. Kjuergej has had many exhibition's and made hundreds of pieces in her career along with getting several accreditation's, you can spot some of her mosaic pieces and sculptors in various places in Reykjavik.
So Kjuergej what is on your schedule?
On the 4th of dec. Me along with five other Icelandic artists are going to Moscow. We where invited by the Sákha - Jakutia government to participate in a group exhibition in the occasion of their 375 year old connection to Russia . I'll be showing various pieces amongst them a big portrait of Björk where she stands on top of Keiko which is an idea I have been carrying around for 3 years and finally made. It's called "Stolt Íslands" or Pride of Iceland".
"At the exhibition there'll be dancing, all sorts of exhibitions, concerts and more by other artists. We wont stay in Moscow because we got a spot at one of Stalin's ex summer house which was turned into a spa by the Jakut's. Which is much cheaper then a hotel room in the city."
Kjuregej also sings and we've attached a song which she and guitarist Gunnar H. Jónsson recorded 30 years ago which she says means a lot to her.
Which are your concerns towards Russia all together?
"I'm sick of the major class division which has established in Russia and all the censorship after the collapse of communism. For example I watched a documentary the other day about the Russian revolution and noticed that some of the interviews where actually censored, where some of the interlocutor's who shared their opinions on if there should be another revulution were translated completely wrong, so non Russian speaking got the actual message. This shows how much pull conservative Marxism has in as outside of Russia, For example this documentary was French. "
Kjuregej would like to visit Jakutia as much as she can but claims that Iceland is her home, but she adds that she moved an original cabin from Jakutia to Iceland which she has worked on for some years, changed to an art piece and a quiet getaway.
Relaxing in Icelandic nature mixed with her Sákha- Jakutia sounds unbelievable good!
With these last words I wish Kjuregej good luck, thank her for her time, a fun and an interesting morning.
Carmen in Get Reykjavik Magazine: www.getrvk.com

laugardagur, desember 22, 2007

Ólafur Arnalds Interview & Live @ Magdeburg | 17. December 2007

Ólafur Arnalds @ Projekt 7, 17. December 2007 @ Magdeburg, Germany

"Fok" Live @ Projekt 7, Magdeburg, Germany


Best Icelandic Albums of 2007 / Íslenskar Plötur ársins

It's the time of the year to make some lists. Also the Best Icelandic Albums of 2007.
I'll bring you the TOP 10 lists that I'll find.
Best Icelandic Albums of 2007
Íslenskar Plötur ársins
Dr. Gunni's TOP 10 list http://this.is/drgunni
1. SprengjuhöllinTímarnir okkar
2. Megas – Frágangur / Hold er mold
3. Hellvar – Bat out of hellvar
4. Seabear – The ghost that carried us away
5. Hjaltalín – Sleepdrunk seasons
6. Jakóbínarína - The first crusade
7. Skátar – Ghost of the bollocks to come
8. Ólöf Arnalds – Við og við
9. Bloodgroup – Sticky situation
10. Eliza – Empire fall

Radio Frank Blogspot Top 10 http://radiofrank.blogspot.com/
1. Sprengjuhöllin - Tímarnir okkar
2. Hjaltalín - Sleepdrunk Season
3. Ólöf Arnalds - Við og við
4. Björk - Volta
5. Mugison - Mugiboogie
6. Jakobínarína - The First Crusade
7. Seabear - The Ghost That Carried Us Away
8. Gus Gus - Forever
9. múm - Go Go Smear, the Poison Ivy
10. Páll Óskar - Allt fyrir ástina

Stafrænn Hákon's Christmas Songs: Liquid/Pastry Christmas

A Merry Christmas from Unstatuesque and Stafrænn Hákon!
The Songs were recorded by Stafrænn Hákon and Unstatuesque in December 2007, featuring Magnús Freyr on the lead vocals in White Christmas? Magnús has toured with Stafrænn Hákon on the last tour.
The songs were mixed and mastered by D A Lovegrove.
Unstatuesque with Stafrænn Hákon - Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Stafrænn Hákon with Unstatuesque - White Christmas
Enjoy also some previous Christmas songs:
Stafrænn Hákon - Do They Know It´s Christmas
Stafrænn Hákon - Last Christmas
Download the songs for free @ Stafrænn Hákon' website: http://www.shakon.com/christmas

föstudagur, desember 21, 2007

Last Call: Sirkus is closing - Article in Grapevine Magazine

Last Call: Sirkus is Closing
by Steinunn Jakobsdóttir
Published in Grapevine: Issue 18, December 07, 2007

“Of course I’ll miss this place. I mean, where else can you find such a good vibe on a Sunday evening?” says the bartender at Sirkus and hands over a beer. It’s around midnight and a few people are dancing to Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’. Sparkling leftovers of last night’s decorations still hang from the ceiling. It was a Super Hero costume party, a crazy night I was told. The staff and a couple of regulars sit around the bar and chat about the weekend and the fact that in two months, the party will at last be over. In February, the tiny tavern will have to close its doors to make room for underground parking lots, hotel rooms and fashion shops.
Sirkus, this notorious little bar on Klapparstígur 30, bred a peculiar and energetic culture years ago and the many loyal beer-drinkers see the shutdown as the end of an era. The staff, as well as the regulars, talk about their small Sirkus community as a big friendly family where Sigga, the owner, is like a mum. It’s no overstatement that few places in the world have established as big and loyal a customer base as Sirkus. The affection among the customers can perhaps best be seen by all the postcards and souvenirs from faraway countries that decorate the bar today.
Frequented by the creative crowd, Sirkus is known as a shelter for artists, fashion designers, writers, filmmakers, art-lovers and music-lovers. The city’s many barhoppers break free to the music blasting from the speakers every weekend, or on a Monday night for that matter, and dance for hours on the sticky floor. With a capacity to accommodate around 100 people, this hut with palm trees painted on the outside walls, is a place where world-famous DJs come to spin their records and partypeople climb the walls and queue for up to an hour outside to be part of the lunacy that goes on inside.
Sirkus’s reputation has travelled the world. With Björk DJ-ing from time to time, renowned and up-and-coming bands throwing awe-inspiring concerts and movie-stars dropping by for a night on the town, the bar is featured in music videos, magazines and travel books. Every year, it attracts a growing number of curious tourists who go on sight-seeing trips just to take a look.
“Sirkus is a ‘night-care’ for grown-up teenagers” explains Sigga, the owner, and laughs. Sigga, usually called Sigga Boston, is the woman in charge. She’s seen it all. Good times and bad times. In 2006, she opened a new bar, Boston, with her longtime friend Hildur Zoega and can today frequently be seen running between the two taverns with her dog Hekla tagging along.
“I can’t be too bummed about it. We always knew this would soon be over but somehow Sirkus always stays open for another year. I’ve said my goodbyes plenty of times,” one regular said when asked how he feels about Sirkus finally closing its doors. “Maybe it’s just time to move on, but I’ll leave Sirkus with countless great memories” he adds.
One of the most remarkable things about Sirkus is the fact that it is even still open. The end has been around the corner more than 20 years, long before Sirkus became Sirkus or today’s clientele even started drinking. But like a cat with nine lives, it has managed to extend its life longer than anyone could ever dream of.

Creative Hotspot
“No one is grieving the house per se but rather everything that has happened inside the house,” says artist Gabríela Friðriksdóttir, a long-time Sirkus family member. She continues: “Just imagine Unuhús (which was a popular hangout among young artists and writers in the beginning of the 20th century) and what a significant role that building played in Reykjavík’s culture. Sirkus is like the Unuhús of our time. Sirkus isn’t a house but plenty of souls that gather to create this unique atmosphere. Sigga plays a leading role in this. She has everything needed to run a place where you can feel at home and get to be just the way you want to be. She’s like a mother, a shrink and a friend.”
The valuables that belong to Sirkus have little to do with concrete or corrugated iron. As a building, Sirkus is almost worthless. All the dancing and drinking have taken its toll and today, it could hardly be described as majestic. Some might even call it a dump. But although its walls, covered with music posters and artwork, might collapse any minute, they’ve witnessed an essential part in the city’s culture, as for years, Sirkus has been a hotbead of everything related to any grassroots genre in art, music, fashion and filmmaking. Here, local bands have taken their first steps and new talents have been discovered. In between touring around the world, groups such as GusGus, Sigur Rós, múm have gone to Sirkus to relax. Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcomb has basically moved in. Friendships that lead to collaborative projects have evolved over a few drinks and numerous artists and designers come by regularly to seek inspiration for new pieces. It’s hard to put a price on that.
“In my view, the bar represents this crossover between art and music. To find my inspiration, I go to Sirkus for example always. You can be just the way you want to, you can easily get to know whomever you choose without any barriers or uncomfortable formal introductions. All the crew I’ve worked with I met in this building. That’s why we always give a special credit to Sigga Boston, Mother Superior, when we exhibit around the world,” says Gabríela.

A Legendary Hangout
The small hut that today houses the notorious bar has a long history. In the early 19th century it housed the grocery Vaðnes but for the past two decades, it’s been a centre for socializing and drinking. In 1990, N1 bar, popular among musicians and music-lovers, opened its doors, pub Grand Rokk moved in for a while and in the late 1990s, Reykjavík’s very first French wine bar served fine wines and snacks to downtowners. That bar was called Sirkus and has kept its name since.
Sigga knows more about the house and its past and present customers than most people and she’s no rookie when it comes to running a successful bar. She has followed the Icelandic art and music scene for decades and in the 80s while studying in Boston, ran her own club inside an old diner called Premia. Since 1990, the building on Klapparstígur has been her second home and she has waited for years for the moment it would all come to an end.

“I started working there in 1990, but my first job after I moved back home was to design N1 bar. At that time, the decision had already been made to tear down the house,” she says. Sigga goes on to explain that in the 90s, N1 bar was the hangout of the Icelandic supergroup the Sugarcubes and their friends. “Me and Einar Örn even owned the bar for three months and the Sugarcubes got their mail delivered there, it was that much of a home. Björk was a DJ, Magga Örnólfs and Sigtryggur Baldursson worked at the bar and Einar Örn managed the door,” she adds.
On December 20, 2000, Sigga reclaimed Sirkus: “Stephanie, who ran the French wine bar, wanted to sell the business. Some business guys had offered her 20 million ISK for the place but she didn’t feel good about it. One day, when we sat down for a drink she asked me: “Sigga, don’t you feel like this place is like your child? Isn’t it sort of like we share this child together? I won’t sell it to anyone but you.” And I bought Sirkus for 4 million ISK!”

Intimate Melodies and Rowdy Rock Shows
Ever since the Sugarcubes called the place home almost two decades ago, the importance of Sirkus for the Icelandic art and music scene has been significant.
“Musicians who grew up here still come running straight from the studio with a song they just recorded and ask if they can try out the new material at the bar,” says Sigga, adding that although the venue only has room for a small audience, established bands come there to practice before going abroad. “Ghosdigital always play a show at Sirkus before they go on tour. They do this because they know they’ll get honest feedback from the crowd.”
Sirkus has hosted numerous unforgetable concerts that feature both local and foreign bands. The entry is always free and concerts are rarely advertised. Big artists such as Petter and the Pix, Jimi Tenor and Kid Carpet have played some of their best shows at Sirkus, as have local acts such as Trabant, Singapore Sling and Benni Hemm Hemm. With his multi-membered brassband, Benni played the packed venue with more charisma than seen elsewhere last Christmas. “Stereo Total were also insane. People literally hung from the ceiling,” Sigga recalls. “Not to mention all the adorable Icelandic bands that have played here.” There is no stage at Sirkus so the bands have to squeeze in the corner, which results in much more personal and intimate shows than other venues could ever offer.
“If you look at the place and think of it as a concert venue, the first thought would be, no way! But inside a vibrant place like Sirkus, anything is possible. When I look back, I see that the bar has meant a great deal to this town, particularly to the music scene,” says Gabríela.
It’s not just bands that are eager to play, legendary DJs from around the world flock to Sirkus to play the small venue when they are in town and veteran local DJs such as Maggi Lego, President Bongo, Árni Sveins, DJ Lazer and KGB are household names. The DJs share a similar view:
“There’s something unique about playing at Sirkus. You somehow get away with anything. Everyone knows each other and people respect what the DJ is doing,” says Hairdoctor’s singer Jón Atli, aka DJ Lazer. “I remember when Sirkus was at its best, the DJs tried to break the ‘chair-record’, that is, how many people you could get up on the chairs and tables to dance. I remember that Maggi Lego and me were always competing. I think my record was 18.”
DJ President Bongo of GusGus has played at huge clubs all over the world, he puts it simply when asked what makes Sirkus so special: “It’s home”. He continues: “It’s such a tiny place. No matter how many people are inside, if you can get ten people on the dancefloor, you’ll have a great time.”
He has played Sirkus numerous times over, but one incident sits foremost in his mind: “I remember one Saturday night when Germany had just won the World Cup. I was of course wearing the national team shirt and started the set by playing the German national anthem. After about oneand- a-half minutes a really pissed American stood infront of me. He was totally furious! I had asked Óttarr Proppé to fix me up with the song but didn’t know that he gave me the extended version, the one used in Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Without knowing about it, I was playing some crazy Nazi version of the national anthem!”

The Final Round
One of Sirkus’s many little secrets is the cosy and roomy garden that belongs to the lodge, and loosing that summerhangout is a gap that will be hard to fill. Railed off in the heart of the centre, the popular sunbathing spot has put more life to the downtown scene than most places around. The sunny spot has been a safe haven for years where people gather to chill out, play poker or backgammon and kids and dogs can run around freely. For the past five years, the outdoor Sirkus flea market has attracted a great mix of customers, the garden has been used for packed BBQ parties, played host to overcrowded rock concerts, (Mínus on Culture Night 2006 are especially memorable) not to mention the world-famous Tom Selleck competition, where the toughest guys in town compete in an old-school beauty contest about who has the coolest moustache.
“The garden is like a friendly oasis. There’s nothing really like it,” Hildur says, and Sigga and Gabríela agree. “We have to remember, that a lively city centre isn’t all about fancy buildings or shops stuffed with fashionable things. We can find that elsewhere. Those who travel to new countries look for a centre with a soul. That’s what Sirkus and everything surrounding it is all about. If we talk about city planning, people need to think whether they want to have this kind of culture or not. And this doesn’t only apply to Sirkus, but to all sorts of places facing demolition and reconstruction” Gabríela says.
The city of Reykjavík and the tourist industry as a whole have benefited incredibly from the vibrant art and music scene thriving inside places like Sirkus. No politician could deny that. A rapidly growing number of travellers visiting the country go where they hope to experience the creative vibe they read about and hear about from friends who have stumbled inside at some point. When discussing what will happen to Sirkus and all its history Sigga has a clear answer: “The bar itself should of course be moved to the Árbæjarsafn museum. It’s a bar from the last century! All these kids, this generation that has conquered the world. It’s important to treasure a part of their culture and where they came from”. That’s not such a crazy idea. A small Sirkus would undoubtedly be no less of a tourist attraction today than all the museum’s old turf houses.
No one really knows what will happen to Sirkus but Sigga says she will serve the final round in the beginning of February. When asked about the next step she replies: “I will just play it by ear. Whatever happens, happens.”
Until the last drop, Sirkus will have plenty to offer its customers. There will be concerts at least twice a week, costume parties are scheduled and numerous surprise celebrations for all those who want to party and play for one last time. Sigga tells me that the plan is furthermore to film all the concerts, release a DVD, and donate all the profits to building a school or a well in Africa. “We’ll then keep the Sirkus sign and take it to Africa someday,” she adds. Although Sirkus will surely be missed, Sigga isn’t too worried. “There’s no need. This kind of energy always finds its way,” she concludes.

Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen - Article in Grapevine

This year something new happened @ Airwaves Festival. Interviews with the artists by Icelandic & international music journalists in the Nordic House. I met Morgunblaðið journalist Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen after his interview with Gunni and Örvar of mum, while talking about singing in Icelandic, English, or Flemish? A discussion started in the previous interview of Arni Mathiasson, a Morgunblaðið colleague, with Bubbi Morthens.
Grapevine Magazine is covering Arnar Eggert because he recently wrote a book about Einar Bárðason.

Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen
by Sveinn Birkir Björnsson
Published in Grapevine: Issue 18, December 07, 2007 www.grapevine.is

Arnar Eggert Thoroddssen is a music journalist for the daily newspaper Morgunblaðið. Actually, he’s a bit more than that. He is a self admitted music nerd and an unchallenged authority on Heavy Metal and fringe music. Now, Thoroddsen has published his first book, a collaboration with Iceland’s leading music agent and band manager, Einar Bárðason who has been the leading proponent of marketfriendly pop music, besides manageing the career of the Icelandic tenor Garðar Thor Cortez. A Grapevine reporter sat down with Thoroddsen to learn more about this curious cross-over.
You and Einar Bárðarson really come from opposite ends of the Icelandic music scene, how did you end up writing a book with him?
Yes, people have wondered about this. Einar sent me an email last April and presented me with the idea of writing a textbook on how to manage a band. After a little toing and froing between the editor, and me, the idea for the book was born. I told Einar he would have to step forward and tell his story, which he agreed to do. Then we just approached it in a cold and calculated manner. I’ve been a music journalist for six years, Einar started coming into his own as an agent and manager around the same time, and we have always enjoyed a good professional relationship. He always played it cool, even if when I trashed some of his bands. So our cooperation was very natural, but I can understand when people look at the two of us… they place us in certain boxes.

On some level, I can’t help thinking of this as a publicity stunt on Einar’s behalf, getting the arch-enemy, so to speak, to write a book about him.
Exactly, Einar is clever, and to some extent, this was a publicity stunt. He said to me, ‘now I have the left field covered,’ meaning that doing this with me, someone who comes from the complete opposite end of the music scene, and I tend to agree with him, gives the book more weight. If he had done this alone, it would have come off as a total ego-trip. But, with me, he had someone to keep that in check, and control what needed to go in and what should be kept out.
Photograph of Einar Bárðason

You mentioned the left side, and that is something I noticed in the book, how Einar continually refers to music in the political terms, left vs. right.
Exactly, the book is written as an ‘as told to’ book, I did my best to maintain his voice in the book and use the phrases he uses, and this is his terminology. He is involved with right wing pop music, and then he talks about the left field, and ‘his people’ if I allow myself to generalise about the fm-pop crowd that is around him; they talk like this. But as he says in the book, he is at home on the right wing, and he’s never attempted to reach out to the other side much. He is strongly rooted in market friendly pop-music with a strong suburban flavour. He’d be the first man to admit this and he often does. He often disarms people by just coming straight out with that fact up front.

Do you think that this left-right analysis is a viable theory to dissect the music industry?
Well, up to a point maybe, I don’t know how far you could take it by putting it in political terms, but I understand the difference he is trying to make, the way he uses it to define mass marketfriendly pop-music and more indie type of music. I understand what people are referring to when they use this definition, but I am not sure it applies as a whole.

How did you feel about this yourself, a person firmly placed in the ‘left wing’ to become a mouthpiece for a leading figure of the ‘right wing’?
I have thought about it, naturally. As a music journalist for Morgunblaðið, I have been writing about all sorts of music, and different kinds of people, and always on an objective level. I think I was able to approach this the same way. But I can imagine that people think this affects my credibility or that people imagine that I jump at any project for the money – and nota bene, there is no money in writing books – or that people see me as a sell out. But people who think that, obviously have no idea what I have been doing for the last few years. I think I can stand up for myself.

Has your own image of Einar changed during this project?
Naturally, I have seen more sides to the man than the general public. I think this could have gone either way really, but I must admit, I walked away from this project pretty impressed with him. He doesn’t take things very seriously. I always imagined a manager like that being on the phone, going nuts all the time, but Einar is always calm as a placid lake. Nothing sets him off balance.

One thing I wondered about when I read the book was that in the beginning, he talks about being in this industry for his love for the game, and his love for music. He was having fun doing something he loved in working with the artists and helping them out. Towards the end of the book, he’s stopped talking in that manner, and started speaking of the artists and his work in financial terms, he talks about investment opportunities, required rate of return for big investors who have invested in his artists, and so on. It seems that the whole thing has now become a business to him. Do you think that is true?
No, I think I would have to disagree with that. Of course, in the chapter about his adventures with [Icelandic tenor singer] Garðar Cortez and how he has managed to attract investors to try to establish him as an opera star, then we are talking about a heavy weight fight for finances. Maybe this is a good example. Einar wants to take Garðar Cortez all the way in the opera world, and in order to do it, he needed financial back-up to play the game. He asked large Icelandic investors for one million British pounds, so he could concentrate on advancing his career without thinking about money. Einar is very sincere in his work to establish Garðar Cortez, because he enjoys doing it. People might have a mental image of the fat, greedy agent, but that’s not how it is in reality.

One of the things Einar has been criticised for is making manufactured mass marketing pop music, like his girl band Nylon or his boy band Luxor, Do you think there is going to be a backlash for him when people realise the extent to which this is actually manufactured? When people realise that he actually had some of the richest men in Iceland investing in his idea to create an international supergroup, like Nylon?
I think this is just something he is interested in. He says himself that he did not really see himself as a musician, standing on stage, but he enjoyed the work around it and making things happen. Of course it is open for debate, whether the whole manufactured pop scene – from the Spice Girls, or Take That, all the way back to The Monkeys – is inherently evil. Many people think it is. This will probably create a backlash from some people, but others will admire him for being smart. But obviously, how justified this is, or even how tasteful, will always be debatable. But that is a material for a different book.
Book of Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen
Öll trixin í bókinni - Einar Bárðarson - Umboðsmaður Íslands