By Chad W. Post
Published 8. September 2008
Bragi Ólafsson was born in Reykjavik, and may be most well known for playing bass in The Sugarcubes, Björk’s first band. After recording three albums and touring the world, he quit making music and turned to writing. He is the author of several books of poetry and short stories, and four novels, including Time Off, which was nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize in 1999 (as was The Pets), and Party Games, for which Bragi received the DV Cultural Prize in 2004. His most recent novel - The Ambassador (which Open Letter will publish in late 2009) - was a finalist for the 2008 Nordic Literature Prize and received the Icelandic Bookseller’s Award as best novel of the year.
On top of everything else, you also run the fantastically named publishing company, Bad Taste, in Iceland. Could you tell me a little bit about how it got started and what you publish?
Before my friends and I formed The Sugarcubes we started the company Bad Taste. The Sugarcubes were actually formed in order to finance the publishing company, which it then did for five or six years. Bad Taste has been the leading independent record company in Iceland for 20 years, although we have never made any money out of it, only lost a lot of it. (Two years ago The Sugarcubes reformed for just one night to save Bad Taste from bankruptcy. And we succeeded.) We not only publish popular music but also modern Icelandic music and jazz, and historical recordings. Then we publish some books as well. My first book of poetry was published by Bad Taste in 1986, and two years ago I started a series of little books, called The Bad Taste Booklets, containing poetry, both translated and original, and prose.
Bragi the bass player - Here on stage with the band Purrkur Pillnikk; years before the start of The Sugarcubes