amiina - A noble Quartet
Sólrún, María, Edda and Hildur - the four Icelandic women in their mid twenties collectively known as amiina first decided they wanted to write music together in 2004. They gathered together every last instrument they could find and piled them into their car. They then filled every available bit of space with food.
This, they maintain, was a very, very important part of the process. But it was also very nearly the act that prevented the birth of amiina. Their overloaded car was unable to struggle up the steep mountainous incline to the studio they had chosen, and had a local farmer not towed them to their destination with his tractor amiina might never have come to be.
"Kurr", the bands debut album, named after the sound that birds are said to make in Iceland makes it clear that they have not learnt their lesson from this experience. amiina are the kind of band about whom it could be said, almost literally, that they employ pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.
And though it's true that they started with individually defined roles as a string quartet this was never going to be how they would set about making a record of their own. In amiina there are no specific assignments: no official bass player, drummer, guitarist or singer.
Before becoming amiina, the girls had been a collaborative string quartet with Sigur Rós. They recently began collaborating with two new male musicians – Kippi Kaninus and Magnús Trygvason Eliassen - and have worked with them to create the brand new "Re Minore" EP, some of which can be heard on their MySpace.
How did you girls get together in the first place - and what was the main motivation for forming?
We met in music college and started out as a classical string quartet. After working with Sigur Rós and other bands we found out how fun it is to create your own music so we wanted to try to make something together from scratch.
What have amiina been doing since the last album?
We toured a bit, we've been doing various fun projects and then we have also been making some new music, both as amiina and in collaboration with others. And of course living our lives too.
Has the line up changed or does it remain the same?
amiina is still us four girls, but we have been touring with a fantastic drummer, Magnús Trygvason Eliassen, and now we are doing a collaboration with him and an electronic musician called Kippi Kanínus. The six of us have been making music and touring together. We just released a limited edition EP called "Re Minore", and hope to record a full-length album together in the near future.
The last album got major kudos - was that entirely unexpected or did you know you had something special?
Well...we didn't really know what to expect, but we had been touring a lot and knew that some people had been waiting for an amiina album for a while, so we were hoping that they would like it. It's hard to judge your own music, but as long as we are proud of what we make, we're happy.
When you set about writing the first album, how did you set about finding a direction or sound?
We didn't know where the music would take us. We didn't have a direction in mind. We just wanted to make an interesting world of sounds. Sometimes we have tried to push things in a decided direction but it never comes out that way. The music and our four different personal inputs take things in their own direction.
You toured a fair bit afterwards - what were the highlights?
To have the opportunity to play our music to loads of great people, getting feedback and feeling like it does make a difference to someone else than ourselves is great!
You've also been busy collaborating haven't you?
Yes, we are working with great people all the time. Right now we are doing a really fun collaboration with Kippi and Maggi, who are two very cool musicians. Kippi does electronics and Maggi is a drummer. We've been making new music together and plan on making loads more. Earlier this year we did a collaboration show with Shlomo (beatboxer) and Valgeir Sigurdsson at the Queen Elisabeth Hall in London. Last summer we toured with Sigur Rós to promote their album "Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust". And last week we collaborated on a couple of songs in a concert with a Japanese artist called Shugo, a very talented guy, to name a few.
What kind of music do you all dig collectively as a ‘band’?
The four of us don't really have the same tastes in music, or the same favourite artists. We don't listen to much music together or talk about music a lot. We spend more time talking about food and other stuff.
What are your biggest musical differences as individuals?
We all come from the same background, we all studied violins and cellos in college. There is probably not a huge difference between us, maybe some of us are better at chords than others.
You're releasing a new EP - what can you tell us about it?
The new EP is called "Re Minore" and is a collaboration between amiina, Kippi and Maggi. It's a taste of what is coming. We have been working a lot with them lately, the music we are making together is less soft and more rhythmic than what we have been doing before.
Is there work afoot on a new album?
We have some new amiina songs that we haven't recorded yet. Not sure when that will happen, hopefully soon. But now we are focusing on composing and recording a new album with Kippi and Maggi.
What other plans for 2009 do you have?
The main project is the collaboration with Kippi and Maggi, but we are also doing a small tour around Iceland just the four of us this summer. We want to play in lighthouses and beautiful spaces around the country. Then we will just have to see what happens in the fall.
What have been the career highlights for amiina to date?
Getting the opportunity to play our music for thousands and thousands of people supporting Sigur Rós was pretty cool! We played in the Hollywood Bowl and some other great places, that's definitely one of the highlights. Also getting to collaborate with Lee Hazlewood before he passed away was incredible.
Source: IMX Iceland Music Export