Hjaltalín & Páll Óskar together on stage @ Menningarnótt 2008 (Culture Night) @ Miklatún. Video by www.projecthundred.com/wp/
"Þú komst við hjartað í mér"
Interview with Hjaltalín thas was published in the 2008 winter issue of Iceland Review – IR 46.04.
By Tobias Munth
“Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll sounds cool but it just doesn’t suit us,” says Högni Egilsson, lead singer, composer and occasional lyricist for Iceland’s latest musical sensation, Hjaltalín. “We could try but I just don’t think it would work out.” Sitting with Egilsson and front lady Sigrídur Thorlacius, squashed into a corner of Reykjavík’s homely Café Babalú—all knitted cushions, feel-good tea, rickety furniture and old-world posters—any assertion to the contrary would feel like blasphemy, like belching in a church.
Winners of Most Promising Newcomer and Best Songwriter (for Egilsson) at this year’s Icelandic Music Awards, Hjaltalín are the hippest kids on the scene at the moment and the band to watch. Thankfully they’re also very talented musicians, so the listening is a treat too. The band is eight-strong and the instruments are unorthodox for an outfit that proudly declares itself to be ‘pop’. On their first and only album to date "Sleepdrunk Seasons", guitars, drums and Egilsson and Thorlacius’ lyrical vocals mix with the perky drone of bassoons, trumpets, violins and clarinets.
So far they’ve placed themselves in the pop category but both Thorlacius and Egilsson know that branching out into further genres is inevitable. “We are definitely pop,” says Thorlacius, “but we’re very lucky with the people in the band” Egilsson chips in, “with such skilled musicians, the possibilities are endless: contemporary classical, electronic, blue grass…”
For a man who names the likes of Olivier Messiaen, and György Ligeti as recent inspirations, it’s clear that Hjaltalín have untold tricks up their sleeve. Their latest project, creating the music for a two-and-a-half-hour long silent feature film for the 2008 Reykjavík International Film Festival is typical of their whimsical outlook on future explorations: “It’s difficult to know what we’ll do next,” says Egilsson. “For some reason everything I write is smooth and beautiful and that can be annoying sometimes! So making the music for that film was a good contrast to pop, it was demanding in many ways and it had a handsome edge to it.”
The members of Hjaltalín met during their last years of high school or menntaskóli under the rousing tutelage of a certain Thorgerdur Ingólfsdóttir, their choirmaster. “She gave everyone she worked with a sense of creating something important. She is an inspiring character and gave us a lot of self-confidence,” says Egilsson.
The idea of actually making music for a living, however, only came to Egilsson later, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time. I was thinking about studying chemistry but then I decided to join the music department and things started from there. I only really got interested in music in the last two or three years, as a kid I had wanted to be a kind of Indiana Jones archaeologist!”
Source: Iceland Review Online