miðvikudagur, febrúar 13, 2008

The mysterious singer Bogomil Font

Article by Arni Mathiasson in Morgunbladid (1995)
Three years ago drummer, Sigtryggur Baldursson (Siggi), became famous in Iceland as the happy, exciting crooner Bogomil Font. With his band Milljonamaeringarnir (The Millionaires), Bogomil started a mambo-mania in Iceland that's still going strong, released a hit album and then disappeared in the fall of 1993, when Sigtryggur moved to the USA and took his alter-ego Bogomil with him. In the States Sigtryggur has worked as drummer for different artists while his wife is studying. But Bogomil didn't leave him alone so Siggi had to give in and has now released an LP where Bogomil Font sings songs by the German composer Kurt Weill.
Bogomil Font was created in the bar of Hotel Intercontinental in Zagreb, where Bragi and Sigtryggur sat once and discussed the idea of putting together a swing band with crooner a la Sinatra and other great role models. Sigtryggur picked the name Bogomil from some calendar there, where they learned that Bogomil is Siggi's protective saint, but the latter part of
the name, Font, was created from poetic inspiration. Bogomil first played with Hljomsveit Konrads Be, in which Bragi was the drummer. In 1992 Bogomil began playing with The Millionaires. Sigtryggur has said that it was difficult to get people to take the band seriously in the beginning; they thought that the Sugarcubes drummer was not a serious singer. Sigtryggur still kept on with Bogomil Font, also to make it easier to be on stage. He says that he never felt any stage fright since he was singing as Bogomil but not as Sigtryggur.
Bogomil and the Millionaires recorded the LP Ekki thessi leidindi (don't be boring/not this boredom) which became one of the most sold albums in 1993 and the group became the most popular party group in Iceland. Then Sigtryggur decided to leave the band, quit at the top, and move to the States where his wife, Sigrun, was beginning her doctoral studies in biology. They settled in the university town of Madison and not before long Sigtryggur was looking around for extra work as a drummer.
Sigtryggur found that there was not enough work for him in Madison, so he looked to Chicago, three hours from Madison for
opportunities. One of the things he was interested in was to find partners for issuing the Bad Taste publications in the US, but Sigtryggur runs the Bad Taste Co. along with other Sugarcube members and others.
"I visited some small publishing companies in Chicago, looking for work and for partners" says Sigtryggur. Among the people he talked to was John Henderson who now takes care of Bad Taste publications in the States. "When I met John I found that he has lot's of interest in Icelandic music and has a collection of this music from the eighties. So he knows about groups like Kukl, Theyr, Purrkur Pillnikk and not only the Sugarcubes" says Siggi. John and Siggi became friends, and decided to start the Bad Taste USA, which is run as a sister project from Hendersons company. Along with this Siggi did some drumming for the industrial War Zone studio.
Through Henderson, Sigtryggur met the owners of the King Size studio which fit well with Sigtryggur's idea of recording a new LP with Bogomil singing songs by Kurt Weill. "That studio was good for the sound I was looking for, a little raw like there was a circus band playing" says Sigtryggur. "Bogomil was just one of many of my projects and I didn't intend to do more with him for time being when I moved here. Then I had the idea to make a Kurt Weill album, I'd been listening much to his songs and Bogomil really wanted to sing the songs. It didn't leave me alone so I decided to carry out this idea and handle the songs as I see fit".
"I had been fiddling with some of these songs for a long time. I started to record in July and had done some experimental
recordings of some of the songs and wondered about the ideology. I did not intend to make a Bogomil record at first.
'Ekki thessi leidindi' was done in concert since the group was popular as a party group and not much more, party group with style.
But Bogomil didn't leave me alone and at last I decided to give in, I looked to some musicians I had gotten to know here in Chicago, first and foremost Dave Trumfio, who is among the owners of King Size studio and main recorder there. He plays contra bass on the record as well as taking care of the technical side. Then there is Dave Adlers keyboardist and trumpet player, and Biff Blumfenganger violin and guitar player, who did the composing".
Sigtryggur doesn't agree that it is too much for him to do Kurt Weill's songs, who have mostly been interpreted by classical musicians. "Of course I have respect for the project and that's also, to a certain extent, why I did it. I didn't to it to do this out of ambition, I think Kurt Weill's music is simply nice music that has usually been taken too seriously. But Bogomil takes this very seriously. Kurt Weill's music is usually for musicals and theatres, which is about the darker sides of human life and wanted to do a circus-like version of this music. I know which I am very interested in.
I like what is happening here. John has very small facilities, he runs the company from his flat, we get a little room there for Bad Taste. We are now publishing two albums with Unun and Bellatrix, and work with an advertising company called Audiotronics from Nashville. Bellatrix is going to the US after Christmas to tour and record".
John Henderson, Siggi's co-worker was much surprised by how much the mambo album has sold and Siggi agrees; "Bogomil Font can be blamed for the mambo mania in Iceland two years ago. Probably because mambo was not very well known in Iceland and also there's so much style involved. For me it was always a little circus, I didn't take it too seriously, I visualized the Millionaires as a small pub band, but they turned into a mambo monster. Bogomil Font and the Millionaires was supposed to make some cash while I worked on other things, but it turned I didn't have time for anything else.
I was going to make a record with beat music before I started to do this second Bogomil album, some played and other sung.
Some of the stuff I sing myself, as Sigtryggur, Bogomil has nothing to do with that record. I also have some other singers in mind, for instance an American female singer. When that album is gonna sell in huge amounts and makes me a multimillionaire, I can pay Bogomil what I owe him and get rid of him" says Sigtryggur and laughs. "I'm a little stuck with Bogomil, he has been like a vampire and prevented me from doing other things for a while".
Translated by Albert Sigurdsson
Source: Morgunbladid Newspaper 19. November 1995

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