Kippi Kaninus - Can Kippi Do It? Yes He Kaninus!
Kippi Kaninus is the alter ego of Guðmundur Vignir Karlsson from Reykjavík. He creates subtle multilayered electronica with melodic evolutions, microbeats, sampled instruments and manipulated sound. Kippi started small, with a self-released album in the year 2000. He made only fifty copies and sold them at his local record shop in Reykjavik. But as is often the way, from humble beginnings came great things. The follow-up, "Huggin", was released throughout Europe and America, culminating in a tour of the US with fellow Icelanders múm.
Kippi has since worked on a variety of projects with many of Iceland's most well-known musicians - be it providing electronic textures for the string quartet Amiina, creating percussive experimental music with former Sugarcubes drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson, or singing in a choir with Sigur Rós and Björk.
"Happens Secretly" is Kippi's first release with Brainlove Records, and is released this October 8th as a ltd edition CD digipack.
Your working techniques have always veered towards the experimental – what were some of the more interesting sounds or processes you employed on Huggun?
The sounds on Huggun are mostly done with contacts mics - I would just try to attach them to anything and see what came out -my favourites being inside a pencil sharpener, inside an apple and in the foam of a bubble bath.
Your background in music is deeply tied in with the church and choral music. Can you give us some background?
I started singing in a choir in high school, mostly because the choirmaster was a legendary punk bass player, and after high school I sang with different choirs and ended up in the choirs at Hallgrimskirkja [the rocket shaped church towering over Reykjavik]. One of those two choirs is a small group of singers that have also done some session and live work for Björk on the “Medulla” album, and for Sigur Rós on Hrafnagaldur and shows in Iceland, Norway and France. I have some training in singing, but I never fell for it as a career - I actually prefer singing in harmony in choirs than solo.
Do you explore the parallels between these seemingly disparate music forms (choral and electronica) or treat them separately?
I explore the parallels, but mostly in sound quality and such. I try to pick up things that help in both worlds of music.
When did you get interested in working with electronic music?
I somehow never was drawn to other kinds of music than that of the marginal genres and what lures me in is the open possibility of surprise and lack of tradition, rules and length in minutes.
Which artists – Icelandic or otherwise – have been an influence on your electronic music career?
Growing up my brother made me listen to a lot of Mike Oldfield, punk and New Wave, which is fine I guess, but now my musical diet is all over the place and almost impossible to pinpoint one influence over the other.
How did you fall in with the Kitchen Motors crew -- and are you still working with them?
They came across an album I made at home and was selling in 12 Tónar, a local record shop in Reykjavik. Together we went through my library of songs and made "Huggun" in 2001. Since then we have done shows together and toured. Lately I have been working a lot with Kristin Björk (Kira Kira), the head lady of Kitchen Motors.
What are your main pastimes outside of music?
I make videos and cook, attend to my family and make things whilst thinking with my hands.
You toured with múm for a while – what were the highlights of that tour for you, and what did you learn?
That tour was an adventure all the way trough, I had only played live once in Iceland before leaving to the USA to open for múm. The first show was at The Knitting Factory in New York, I performed with two MD players, a small mixer, a sampler and a foot controlled dictaphone that was always breaking down. During the show I prayed that people would not boo me down, but it turned out that they liked it and after that show my confidence went uphill.
You’ve also been busy with various projects since Huggun…
I have been lucky to get the chance to work with some wonderful people, such as the ex-Sugarcubes drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson, in the band Steintryggur, also arranged for and toured with Kira Kira. I have also worked a lot with Amiina for the past year them, myself and a drummer have been writing music together, touring and plan to do a full length album in the fall to be released in 2010. These projects are brilliantly fun and fulfilling. I am also doing music with two double-bass players in two separate projects. The methods are very different there since it is based around live improvisation and manipulation of one instrument.
If you could rewind time to any point in history, where would you pause it?
I'd like to party in Paris of the 1920s.
What aspects of music creation do you enjoy most?
I enjoy the whole process and it is deeply satisfying to get result out of some fumbling around and then take it from there, these fumbling can range from 10 minutes to 10 years.
“Happens Secretly” – what does the title of your new album allude to?
Actually to the world of my music making, both the actual process of finding, recording and making sounds and arranging them, which to me sometimes feels a mysterious process and, secretive, and the fact that I am alone. But also to the idea that really big changes to the world tend to happen secretly, and the graphics of the album refer to that also.
Would you describe yourself as a mysterious person?
No, but sometimes my shyness paints that picture of me.
I haven’t heard the record: how would you describe it in one sentence to someone?
Melodic at times, rhythmical, imaginative and harmonious.
Is it a natural successor to Huggun would you say?
Yes, I'd like to think so. The structure of the music on Happens Secretly is more disciplined than on Huggun and the soundworld is thicker and juicier.
Who else is on it, except you?
A few friends, the choir and my children - but all recordings I found or somehow ended up in my hands, cut up, rearranged and put together to form something different.
Which instrument would you like to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
Something very durable, a jaw harp maybe or a kalimba given there's no electricity.
How did you hook up with the Brainlove label?
In the wonderful world of the internet, through MySpace if my memory serves me right.
Are there plans to tour ths year?
The next Kippi gig will probably be at the Airwaves Festival here in Reykjavik in October, hopefully with other Brainlove acts, I am really looking forward to that. Myself and Brainlove are also working on some dates for the UK in the coming fall and winter.
And what have been your favourite records so far in 2009?
Maybe "Clangour" with Sin Fang Bous and "Merriweather Post Pavilion" with Animal Collective to name two that pop up in my head.
Kippi Kaninus @ MySpace
Source: Iceland Music Export IMX