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Reykjavik Grapevine: Interviews: Sóley

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Last weekend I interviewed Sólety Stéfansdóttir aka SÓLEY for the Reykjavik Grapevine. You can read it here. She also has an album release gig on at Frikirkjan tonight in the run up to the release of her 2nd album Ask The Deep (details at the end of the interview). Alas i can’t go, but I think some of you should at least think about attending and stuff.

She was really nice to interview. Well, it was more of a chat than a straight up interview, an exchange of suggestions and ideas sort of thing. Sóley is just one of those lovely musicians that, even if you’re not really into her music, obviously is one of life’s thinkers, ponderers and slight obsessives (She just thinks more about life and death and shit, instead of politics and cultural theory lol!) We also talked about weird films such as Beyond the Black Rainbow and the music of Aine O’Dwyer, with regards to her plans to hopefully make organ musical pieces. It was also interesting about the way that she visualizes ideas, sounds and structure in a very similar way to how music triggers colours, cinematic images and memories (real and pilfered) in my own head. We just apply our own obsessions and energies into entirely different paths….

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2015 in music

 

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Know Your Labels! An interview with London’s Kit Records. Now with added Mixtape Flavour!!

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While I was back in the cradle of civilization (i.e. London) this summer, I ventured over to the east of the city one evening on the advice of a friend to check out what seemed to be a nascent local DIY electronics scene occurring over there. The location for observation was Power Lunches, a former cafe in Dalston that housed a fairly makeshift concert space in the basement below.

Despite Power Lunches looking like a bomb had hit it repeatedly in the face, the place had a nice crumpled charm to it. They only sold cans at 3 quid a pop, while the shelves were full of vinyl for the DJs to play whatever they wanted. The reason for being there was to attend inaugural club night of new DIY label of KIT RECORDS. Titled Kit club, it was the latest offshoot in a growing venture that included a radio show on London’s NTS radio, a printed local zine, online mixes, as well a record label.

Although there were some first night nerves, the night itself went down really well. I ended up speaking to pretty much who’s who in this local scene. As well as seeing such acts as oMMM (Who bizarrely has played in Iceland before, back in 2008. Mundi – He wants his synths back!) and Alien Jams, I also got to meet my old friend Jonny (Mugwump, he of Exotic Pylon records), as well a catch some time with the likes of Anthony Chalmers (Promoter to power Lunches, Robot Elephant Records honcho, and was also DJ’ing there) and one of the guys who runs Dramatic Records, I also managed to spend some time speaking the two fine peeps who run Kit Records, Richard Greenan and Sarah Jones. They were more than accommodating to this lumpen out-of-towner who found himself repeatedly knocking things over and getting stuck in the incredibly tiny seated booths upstairs.

When I eventually got back to Iceland, I decided to get in touch with Richard and Sarah to ask them a few questions to find out a bit more about what it is that they’re getting up to over at KIT…..

So to start off, we should probably back from when I met you both in London, to the beginning. Tell us a bit about yourselves as sentient humans. What are your backgrounds, and how did you both first meet up?

Sarah: We both grew up in seaside towns of varying decrepitude on the south coast. We went to different universities but we’d bump into each other now and then as we shared the same group of friends – hanging out in pubs, house parties or at not-very-good Art College exhibitions. We didn’t really speak much – though I did once congratulate Richard on a DJ set he was doing at a party, so clearly our shared musical taste was apparent even then.

Things got more interesting when the dust settled in everyone’s lives after uni and we all found ourselves living in London. We’d all meet to have dinner at Richard’s amazing condemned Brutalist ’70s housing estate in Whitechapel. And he and I found that we had loads in common. The rest, as they say, is like the ending of Jurassic Park – helicoptering madly away from a terrible island awash with dinosaurs.

After you two get together, somewhere along the road  the idea of KIT comes to life. Where did the idea of KIT come from? What came first. the radio show, or the record label?

Sarah: Well, then the time came for us to move down to Brighton. We lived in a little top floor flat, you could see the sea from the window. It was a pretty bleak winter, the kind in which seaside towns become particularly redundant. But we were always coming up with ideas, playing records, and reading about music. It was like a glowing jewel in this salty, cold landscape. We realised that, despite Brighton being a cultural melting pot, we tried, and to an extent failed, to find a proper music scene. I mean, there are bits and bobs, sure – but nothing really that dedicated or conspicuous, just loads of BIMM students and half-arsed anarchist noise-bands.

I’d been to uni in Edinburgh and got to know, and be inspired by, Fence Records, who created a cult following in a quite remote corner of Scotland. We realised that we wanted to do the same thing in Sussex – to bring creative people together, have an aesthetic, and put on all-day gigs, release music, form a community. And to write about music. We know there are a million and one music websites on the Internet, but we wanted ours to quietly give our perspective. It’s not all-singing, all-dancing, or obnoxious – it’s simple, well designed and interesting (we think).

I’m a drummer and that had a bearing on the naming of Kit. Also we felt we were putting something together, building it, which is what a kit is for. And it’s easy to spell, easy to say, and neat as a pin so it fits well.

Ric has been doing his radio show since well before we became a couple, so that’s been a constant. I brought my plans to the table, plans I’d had for many years, to create a music and art project, with a community and live music aspect to it. We moved back to London for work reasons, and that’s ended up being a massive boost for Kit. We’ve realised that London is a great equaliser – people have arrived here from all over the place, so it’s a good place to start for us.

And for that matter what is the main ethos/aesthetic behind KIT? Is there a plan behind the show/label/zine/club night or has it been a case of taking advantage of opportunities when they arise?

Sarah: I’m a freelance illustrator and I usually work with ink, and that goes into the Kit ‘look’. Richard’s got a great visual style too, he could be an art director, he sources images and puts them together really well. We don’t take it too seriously, but we do want to make it interesting and meaningful.

We’ve been given the great good fortune of getting to know Anthony Chalmers through NTS, and he’s the promoter for Power Lunches, in Dalston, so we hold Kit Club there. It’s been a really great venue – there’s an upstairs, for hanging out and drinking, and a downstairs, for watching live music and sweating away 57% of your body weight. It works well.

The zine is a collation of our favourite interviews and articles since the last Kit Club – there have been some corkers. For example, there’s an Ethiopian nun who has spent a lifetime making music and has never written it down. This nun lives an austere existence in Tel Aviv but has an incredible inner life, full of music. We interviewed the lady who’s transposing it for her – a complete labour of love. That went into the zine. But that’ll be next to an article about a tape label we discovered during a weekend in Galway, or a mix from one of our favourite artists. Next time there’s going to be a comic strip by the genius Matt Layzell. No two pages are the same!

One thing I noticed when I attended the first KIT CLUB back in June was that there seemed to be some sense of a “community” or scene among the people that were there, people who were interested in creating and curating small DIY music labels and producing interesting . Is there actually such a community or was I just imagining it? If there is a concerted scene going on, can you give us a short primer on what is going on in terms of labels/artists/venues, etc.

Sarah: Thanks, that means a lot to us. We’ve been continuously surprised and delighted by the warmth of the people we’ve met through Kit Club. People have kept coming back, too. We think it’s because we ask interesting, offbeat musicians to come and play, and this inevitably leads to learning things from them, making friends, and quite often getting a bit wankered. It’s easy to make friends with these kinds of people. People are good, really. It’s certainly not a concerted scene – It´s all still nebulous and new. But some people are in scenes already, across London and the UK, so we’ve dipped our toes in a few of them. There’s so much creativity out there, and you learn about it by getting to know people. Simple.

You’re in the process of releasing your first record, an album by a mysterious person known only as THE NAGS HEAD. Can you shed some light on this person and why they decided to name themselves after the pub in Only Fools And Horses?

Sarah: The Nag’s Head is something of a mystery. He creates amazing beats obscured amongst found sounds; joyous dancing rhythms swathed in the melancholia of crisp packets on the Isle of Dogs. He lives in Brighton, but we can’t tell you more than that. You really have to listen his music, to discover and re-discover things within it. He’s very nice, too. We became a bit obsessed with his album, Live from Concrete Island, and we think that tape is the right way to present it to one’s ears. Actually, when the tape first came back from the factory, we took turns to listen to it via a walkman. It was amazing. After years of MP3s and YouTube, tape sounds like nothing else. Really rich and full. Like a good Sunday roast. Ears need a Sunday roast now and then, not just endless bags of popcorn.

So now things are starting to take off a bit with KIT. What is on the horizons for yourselves in the near future? More releases? Bigger and better nights? What are your ambitions?

We want to take things on the road, to meet more people, to keep the quality of Kit Club at a reliable and fascinating standard. Eventually we hope to put on all-day gigs. We’ll release more tapes, eventually we’ll move on to Vinyl LPs, which is surely the best way to listen to music. Richard is writing away all the time, and sourcing new acts for Kit Club. I’ve started playing live as Synaesthete, and I’m working on an EP. In fact, as I write this, I’ve just given up my soul-sucking desk job in order to focus on being creative. Right now, we don’t want to be weighed down by an agenda. We just want to try our best and have fun, natural fun.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your band Synaesthete. I take it from the name that you are ale to see sounds or words as colours, is that correct? and with regards to playing, how have the live experiences been so far, and how has the reception been for you?

I do have synaesthesia. I see numbers and letters in colour in my head. I named my musical project after it because I like the idea of combining two experiences, or skills – as a singer as well as a drummer; as a musician as well as an illustrator.

I’ve only played one gig – Kit Club 2! – so it’s still in its early days. I’ve got a background of being in bands, but this is a solo project. It’s all about rhythm and vocals, so i use two tom drums, and a 606 drum machine, drum sampler pad, a loop pedal, and a vocal pedal. I build up the rhythm piece by piece, then sing over it, loop my singing, and add things to the mix – plus, there are melodies and basslines. I’m going to be recording soon so I’ll keep you posted! It went really well live, I got some lovely support. I can’t wait to play live again.

 

 

Thanks for that Sarah! But wait! That’s not the end for as well as gracing us with their words, Richard has gone and put together a special mixtape for Reykjavik Sex Farm for your listening pleasure. This is what he tell us about the mix itself….

“The mix contains songs from B£AMS and Sebastian Palomar, who will both be performing at Kit Club 3 on Sept 7. B£AMS will also form half of Kit Rec 002, a vinyl split with mysterious doctor / sonic explorer TESLA (also featured on the mix).”

If you this mix to your liking, then you can download an mp3 copy HERE. For more information about upcoming releases from The Nags Head, B£AMS, and TESLA, or to read interviews and features, or to hear more mixes and broadcasts on NTS, then head on over to kitrecords.com 

TRACK LISTING

Dur Dur Band – Intro
Vicki Sue Robinson – Turn the Beat Around
John Holt – Ali Baba
B£AMS – Peep East
The Nag’s Head – Jumbo Mixed Grill
TESLA – She’s Deep Seated / Luxsic
Sebastian Palomar – Benefits Escapological
Orange Juice – Rip it Up
The Honeycombs – Have I the Right
Unknown – Glass Bowl Music
Moondog – Pastoral
Unknown- If You Want to Sing Out
Kate Bush – This Woman’s Work

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in live music, mixes, music

 

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Reykjavik Grapevine: Interviews: Premier Division Men – Ghostigital Interviewed.

This is a few weeks old, but at the beginning of this month, I interviewed Einar Örn and Curver from Icelandic electro noise band GHOSTIGITAL about their recent release Division Of Culture & Tourism,” and about what had been going on in their lives over the past few years. It’s up on-line and you can read it HERE

Naturally there were several delays and call offs before we finally got to meet. but they were both polite and candid with their answers. Einar Örn even paid for my cup of tea. Naturally of course they were masters of giving good answers without giving too much away (Einar did study media in London in the ’80s after all), but we managed to get through some decent subjects.

Of course the evil enemy of the music journalist is word count, so a LOT of what was said was excised from the final draft. But this is TEH INTERNETZ! And i can put the whole lot up on here for you all to read at your own leisure.

Premier Division Men

Oh my cod! Ghostigital are back with a new album. Scary news indeed!

“I don’t really do photo shoots. I let Jón Gnarr do them all,” jokes Einar Örn Benediktsson, one half of mentalist electronic duo Ghostigital, as the photographer take a few test shots. We’re at a downtown coffeehouse to talk about all things Ghostigital. For starters, they’ve just released ‘Division Of Culture And Tourism,’ their 3rd studio album which has been receiving rave reviews. But they’re busy guys and over the last few years both have been heavily involved in other areas, such as the arts, to local politics.

Several minutes later, Ghostigital’s other member, Curver Thoroddsen, arrives and together they both start laughing, joking like a pair of excitable schoolboys as photographer Alisa clicks away. Once finished, we sat down to talk business.

It’s been a while since your last full album release and some of the material has been around now for a few years now. Can you tell me how and when the idea for ‘Division…’ began to take shape.

Curver: Just to correct you a little bit, this is indeed our third studio album but in the meantime we released other music. There was ‘Aero’ with Finnbogi Pétursson and Skúli Sverrisson. We also released 4 hours of music with Erro, while there was ‘Sirkus Requiem’, again with Finnbogi. And there was a 48 channel sound sculpture for a art piece called ‘The Morning Line’ by Matthew Ritchie.

Einar: That was called “Cannibals In Tuxedos”.

C: So in the meantime, we’ve been nibbling at the album while we’ve doing these more arty pieces. The studio albums tend to take longer, because there’s more nuances.

How does the creative process work with yourselves? Do you Curver come up with some basic tracks and show it to Einar and he does some work on it.

C: The basic patterns actually come from Einar.

E: What happens is that I sit down in front of a computer and I will create a beat pattern which is sometimes four to eight beats long

C: Usually much longer than that! [Laughs]

E: Then I send it to Curver and he starts chopping it up and twisting it. We then throw this idea between us, we do vocals on it, and that just develops what kind of shape the story is going.

C: I do have a little bit of difficulty in starting a new idea, but it comes easier for me to manipulate an idea that comes from someone else. This way it works perfectly between us. Einar sends an idea, I chop it up, we bounce it back and forth, and then we go into the studio. It all goes though a hakkavél, like a meat grinder.

What you’ve described there is actually rather interesting, because many people would often assume that it’s Curver who starts off with the beats. What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have with Ghostigital?

E: The biggest misconceptionis that we’re difficult or dissonant.

That you’re difficult to work with?

C: No, that the music we make is dissonant.

Well when you listen to this album compared with the previous albums, a lot of the sound motifs are there, but the component tracks feel and sound a lot smoother, especially in terms of the beats. How much of that was down to yourself and Alap Momin mixing?

C: I think that all the music we produce comes from us. Alap helped us more in the mixing so it sounded balanced, so the bass wasn’t red lining all the time. I would say that Alap has been focusing on the “new” sound and balance mix which is different from the “rock” sounds that I’ve been used to mixing. So it was just one more layer of throwing the songs back and forth, then it gets given to Alap to do the final EQ’ing and balancing, to get one more layer away from us in that nobody own anything.

One of the things that sets Ghostigital apart from other bands is the way you work with collaborators. How important is the element of collaboration to the band, and what do your collaborators bring to the table?

E: They’re important in the sense that we’re not in an isolated environment. When we send stuff between the two of us, we’re in a bit of isolation. But then again the world is our oyster and so it’s just important to expand on that. If people think we’re dissonant, the fact that we can actually ask other people to comment on our music with their input is confirmation of the opposite.

Would it be fair to say that instead of call Ghostigital a band, you’re more of a collaborative hub, with the two of you in the centre?

C: Yes. When we worked with Finnbogi, the music was in a form which was basically oral sculpture, which takes a few hours to perform and complete. We’ve done 10 hour concerts in Listasafn Reykjavík, so we’ve dealt with the concept of playing very long, but then you try to do it concisely in 47 minutes. We’re trying to put out a lot of information in the music. And that is what is kind of challenging for us is to deal with that.

E: And when you ask what the biggest misconception people have with us is, I actually think that there’s actually no real misconception in the sense that in our minds we have one rule and that is to be the best. Rule number two is to try to be the most challenging, both to ourselves and to never stop surprising ourselves by going into a concert by just doing it. We often play as if it were our last concert.

When you’re bringing all these people in, how does it work? Do you actually think “This person would be good on this track,” or is it something more instinctive.

C: It’s definitely instinctive, because we’ve never had a practice ever.

E: So when Siggi comes in (Siggi Baldursson performed with Ghostigital at Airwaves in 2010), I think we gave him the set list and tracks so he could listen to what we were going to play, but we didn’t rehearse. He just turned up and we didn’t tell them what to do. They just play and we try to gel it together. It is a lot of improvisation and we don’t have a break in between the songs. The set goes very fast, into slow, into fast. It’s like when JG Thirwell said, “Say what you mean, but say it mean.” And that that’s what we want to do. We simply put everything out there and then it’s up to those that listen. You might not need to listen to a whole concert – you might just think, “Wow, this is just enough. It’s too loud,” but that’s OK.

In terms of the album, was it a case of going we’re not sure about this track, so you would give it to somebody, say Damon Albarn, and he would make a suggestion of what to do?

C: Not really. We don’t sit down and go: “do something,” and then you play. For example, Nick Zinner saw Einar perform in Ethiopia and said, “Wow I want to do something with you!” so we sent him a track and two days later he sends us some guitar parts and we simply took those and chopped up what he did. It all goes into that same meat grinder and something comes out.

With the track, ‘Dreamland,’ David Byrne’s contribution is different from the others in that instead of laying down an individual component or track, he was driving the narrative of the song from the start. How did you guys start working together?

C: We actually asked him if he wanted to do something with us and there was no track at the time, but he said alright.

E: We went back and found a track we liked and said, “Here you go.” We didn’t define to him what he could do, it was simply you can take this forward. And that is what he did.

C: He first sent us a kind of mumble track to provide the melody line.

And once the lyrics and narrative took shape, it sounds like the two of you were sending it back and forth adding the next section of the song.

E: Exactly. It was a conversation between two people, even though we’re not in the same country at the time.

The other collaborator I wanted to talk about is Sensational. He’s been working with you since the beginning and Curver has been in a recent documentary about his life and music. How did you guys meet in the first place?

C: Well Sensational is my favourite artist in terms of hip-hop. Several years ago during Airwaves, I was in Prikið talking to a guy from New York saying, “Do you know Sensational?” and he replied, “No, but my friend here Scotty Hard (who’s a well known producer in New York) knows him quite well!” And I was like wow, great! When we started Ghostigital, we had this idea of getting Sensational in on it, so I went to New York where Scotty put us in contact with Sensational and set us up in the studio.

How was the first encounter with him?

C: He asked if I could lend him $20! It was really weird. He said to meet him at this place, which was a really dodgy neighbourhood, and Scotty said “Aah, no. Let’s rent this cheap studio I know because you’re gonna be mugged in seconds in that neighbourhood.” But the night before the session, we met in Brooklyn and while we were with him, he hit on all the women in this tiny cafe that we’re at. We ordered a large dinner and I was stuck with the bill. Of course I had so many questions I wanted to ask him about his lyrics and his music and how he did it. We then went to a bar where he hit on all the women there as well as borrowing cigarettes from everybody! At the end of the night we said lets meet in the studio tomorrow, and he said, “Do you have $20 so I can buy some weed? It helps me write better lyrics!”

And of course you gave him the $20…

C: If course I did! When we met up in the studio the day, he’s really punctual but he hadn’t written anything. So half of the time was taken with writing the lyrics.

But Sensational is a legend. When he was 15, he started working with the Jungle Brothers making this crazy music, and using weird sample that nobody was using. But the record label declined to release it and demanded that they make a cleaner version. So the story goes that he broke into the studio and stole the master tapes, and a lot of those masters ended up on his first album.

What does Sensational bring to Ghostigital and your sound?

C: I think he actually fits very well with Einar. Einar has a very fast and neurotic style and voice, while Sensational has the slowest rapping style I’ve ever heard. as well as a having a deep voice. And somehow they go very well together despite the clashing of styles.

E: And of course he’s very experimental in his approach like we are and it fits so well.

What’s the situation with the documentary about Sensational right now? They had to do a kick-start project to get the final piece of funding.

C: they managed to get the finding and finished the documentary. They played it at Hoboken New Jersey recently, and four people turned up, one of those was the director!

The title of your new album is ‘Division Of Culture & Tourism,’ which seems rather pertinent when considering the current debate about how tourism and culture in Iceland are being affected by each other. Did you have this in mind when coming up with the title?

E: We’ve been discussing with you the idea of collaborations between us here in Iceland and with people abroad and we are a division, like you’d describe a league or group. And in one way our songs on the album aren’t about love or other things like that. They are songs in most cases about travelling or moving somewhere. For example, walking into a room and everything is shut off, such as with “Dark In Here”. So it entails a story of travelling and we call it Tourism. Tourism should be about exploring so in a way we’re also exploring cultures.

When I put a song on Soundcloud and I’m asked what kind of genre it is, I end up putting down things like electronic, spoken word, dub, hip hop, experimental, techno etc, etc. We take from so many musical cultures. So we’re saying here is the division.

But I would say that what you’ve described is travelling. To me tourism is the business of making money of people who travel as well as the idea of a tourist is someone who doesn’t really immerse themselves in other cultures.

E: That’s a very good point. Because then to me if it is about taking something from somewhere else, then that is exactly what happened when I first heard Sensation on a Ghostigital album. I travel from Reykjavik to Brooklyn. So there is tourism in what we are doing.

C: When you think about what’s happening here in Iceland when you have a lot of people coming here to Iceland because of the culture, but the culture is changing because of the tourists who arrive here.

So the culture has been used as a tool to bring people to Iceland?

E: Oh definitely. I’ve remember sitting in a focus meeting called a stefnamót, back in 2006, and we were asked, “What should Iceland be like?” We discussed what Iceland should be like or what we should be focusing, someone noted to me afterwards that nobody dared to say that the change of the perception of what Iceland looked like to the world could be pinpointed to a year, 1987, when “Birthday” was featured by the music press abroad. Suddenly we were brought into the popular domain abroad, not just seen as Eskimos in disguise, but here is something that is cultural and happening.

So it was a form of “year zero”. Other things happened before that but the world didn’t notice until then?

E: Exactly. We modernised and we could now have cultural ambassadors in music. You had The Sugarcubes, then Björk, and then Sigur Rós and now we have Iceland Airwaves for the past 10 years. So we have culture not only as an export, but we also get an import of people who want to come here to experience something. And I think that is very important to realise. And Icelandair realised it when they started airwaves, that culture would be one of the tools that could bring people in.

I do know that some people are concerned at how the cultural scene in Iceland is being impinged upon and, like in many countries now, it’s a business where do we really have a living culture, merely just a branding exercise.

C: Well…. I don’t know. You can go to Hawaii for example and you get the Ukuleles and the necklaces and you know that it´s not the truest form of the culture. And if you are really interested in the culture and the country, you can go to the mountain and see the original stuff but most people buy the cheap ukuleles and flowers. We just have to figure out a way how to sell these elves.

Oh don’t worry they’re selling themselves.

C: And when we can actually sell volcanic ash, then that’s pretty amazing.

Or when we sell “Glacial” mineral water, and it’s from the tap! If you actually tried to drink the water made from glacial ice, you’d be sick!

C: Exactly! [laughs]

 

Curver, you went back to school and got a Masters in fine art in 2009 in New York. Why did you decided to go back to school?

C: Well I’ve always been studying fine art.

E: He’s the brains of the band!

C: No I’m not! Well, I’m the arty one at least. YOU’RE the brainiac. I’ve always studied art and I finished my BA degree in Iceland in 2000, whereupon I wanted to work a bit in the field of music production. But I always wanted to go and do my masters and I wanted to go and live in New York. So in 2007, I went out to do a two year course, while my girlfriend was also studying out there as well. And then I had a baby boy in New York. It’s pretty much how it happens. We actually started working on ‘Division…’ before I left, back in 2006

E: King Buzzo’s contribution was actually recorded way back at that time.

And then he had to go and study art. And have a life.

C: And have a baby!

Some of the art you’ve produced is rather interesting, from shaving your beard, to going on a diet, to selling puffin pizza in the West Fjörds. What was the concept behind that?

C: It was in a way going back to the tourism and about the rise of fast food in Iceland. When I finished my Master’s, I was asked to produce a piece on the westernmost point in Iceland, and in Europe. It takes seven or eight hours to drive there and the road never seems to end, but at the end of it, you have this beautiful lighthouse. And I thought, “Wow, it’d be amazing to go and open a pizza place there!”

You opened it for a month didn’t you?

C: I did. And most of the people who came there, apart from the locals who knew about it, weren’t aware that it was an art piece. They just came and saw a pizza place at this lighthouse.

How did most of them feel about eating pizza that had puffin meat on it?

C: I was actually surprised that most of the tourists, who were going there to see the birds, were also interested to see how they tasted. It’s like the whales, you go and see the whale, and then you go and taste them afterwards.

There seems to be an element of looking into the small everyday incidents and events along with an element fop ranking that ties in a bit with the vocals and ideas in Ghostigital.

C: Maybe Einar has had more of an influence eon me than I thought! Actually I’m kind of amazed of that listening to KUKL and Bogomil Font has been that much of an influence on me.

E: I am obviously your biggest influence. You cannot deny it!

While Curver was in New York Einar, you helped to set up the Best Party and campaigned in the Reykjavik city elections. How and why did you get involved with it?

E: To start with, I’ll tell you why I started doing Ghostigital. I didn’t do music for many years because there was this band called Mínus and so I didn’t need to do any music because Mínus were going strong, But when they fizzled out, I started to do Ghostigital because at that time no one else was doing that kind of music.

And that’s why I got involved with the Best Party because no one else was going to do it. If I didn’t go along, then nobody was going to. There’s a famous quote accredited to me from the film ‘Rokk í Reykjavik’: “Málið er ekki hvað þú getur, heldur hvað þú gerir.” It means: “The question isn’t what you are able to do, but what you actually do.”

At the time of the election, there were similarities with your campaign and its ideas of situationalism, and surrealism, with some of the work with you did with Smekkleysa back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

E: It actually goes further back than that. I was marching with the anarcho-punks while I was studying in England and every weekend I was at Dial House where Crass were situated. Sometimes activism isn’t always about being in the forefront; it’s also about being behind the scenes to motivate people, being a catalyst. Things happen but you don’t why they happen. And that with the Best Party, it happened but we don’t know why it happened.

After the election you became a city councillor and you are on the chair of Strata, the company that runs the city’s buses. How much of an upheaval has this been for you?

E: It has been a total upheaval for everybody involved in it´s how you deal with not being a shit stirrer, but to being a problem solver.

Because even thought you were running on platform of anti-politics, people still have expectations and there are competing pressures involved. What’s been the toughest aspect of it all?

E: Everything is tough about it. You mentioned situationism just then. I think a lot of Ghostigital concerts are a situation, or when we work with Finnbogi we’re creating a situation. And when you have a situation, you don’t try to control it as such, but work with it. And that is about co-operation, about helping out. Because remember, we’re coming out of a VERY serious situation, which I feel we won’t see the end of for a least another four, five years.

Although officially the Kreppa is now over, right?

E: Yeeeeah…

How do you feel about what you’ve done yourself while working for the city?

E: With Stræto, we’ve increased the services again back and replace the services that were cut during the Kreppa, so we still have a long way to go and it doesn’t happen overnight, when you don’t have the money to do it.

It must be a bit frustrating as you’re under a lot more scrutiny on your actions than other roles you’ve done in the past.

E: Well if one always tries to live up to other people’s opinions and expectations, then you are working with unreality. It´s better to be a bit realistic and do the best you can at any given time and do it honestly, then that’s all you can do.

Fast forward to 2012, and Ghostigital have been busy with perfuming in different forms. One example was performing a John Cage piece at the Tectonics festival in March this year. How did you end up getting involved with that?

E: Ilan Volkov simply came to us and asked if we could do this piece.

C: And the piece itself, which consists of two people in different locations not hearing what the other guy is doing is really interesting.

E: The main idea behind that piece is that Cage is reading a story and his friend was in another room and he could not hear what he was doing. So there is supposed to be no interactivity between us. Siggi Baldursson was behind a door and I tried to have headphones on me while Curver was in the kitchen in New York doing things. But the mistake I did was not to have an engineer on Curver’s end of the web cam, because that crashed during the performance.

Yeah, I saw that. That wasn’t planned at all?

C: No. It was kind of perfect timing though!

E: I think that it was definitely in the spirit of John Cage.

C: Also the ideas with “Interdeterminancy”, we tried to multiply this by having extra people involved. The two of us, Siggi at the back. Kaktus (Hrafnkell Kaktus Einarsson, Einar’s son) on the sides and Ása (Ásgerður Júníusdóttir) singing and moving around the gallery.

Looking back, how well did you feel the final performance went?

C: The crashing of the webcam actually really made it. I was like, “Yes!” I think that if you know about John Cage’s work, that he is very open to chance both it happening in art, and in life. And that compares a bit with how Einar thinks about his art and life. It is what it is. Some things you can’t plan. And that’s the same with our music. We’re not trying to imitate and be something else. It’s about being who we are.

Meanwhile you’re doing working of thing on a solo basis. Curver, you’re working now with Björk on her Biophilia educational packages. What’s your role with that?

C: I just came on as an assistant engineer, which kid of just grew into me running her educational programme because it’s been growing more and more as time has gone one.

And Einar, you are on the board for this year’s Menningarnótt (Culture Night) how did you feel it went?

E: The nature of Menningarnótt is very good right now. The programme from midday till 11pm was great where people just get together and this year we fortunately had very good weather. People came into town, and used the buses that were laid on for everyone, or walked or biked in.  It’s just a very big event that you can participate in and have fun.

So you’re not going to threaten to cancel it then next year?

C: No we won’t. What we were trying to point out that when you host an event like this, everything needs to work together, everyone needs to show cooperation – not just between the police, the city, the venues, and the musicians, but with those attending as well. For example, you can think about the “car-ism”, our dependence on cars that we need to drive ourselves everywhere. But on Menningarnótt, we said this is a day not to drive down here.  Three years ago nearly 1000 traffic tickets were issued, but this year around 100 were issued.

It’s a learning process and when everyone is participating and everyone is in a good mood, to have so many people here there are parameters that can only be taken into account if everyone goes in with the right frame of mind and acknowledges that they need to be flexible in their mind set and their plans. Then be chilled and not needing to think, “I have to get through here!”

So what else is planned for Ghostigital in 2012? Will there be any promotion of the album at all?

E: No, we’re just pretty happy go lucky with what we’re doing. What we have been doing instead is working on collaboration tracks. We worked on a track with Sóley for the TV programme ‘Hljómskalinn’, and we did on track for NPR radio in New York.

C: With that one, they were getting a lot of bands to do covers of songs with a colour in the title. So of course we did “Green Eggs And Ham.”

E: but with next year, I think that we should take whatever ideas or frames we have and try to work with them quicker.

C: We always end up doing these kind of things. Like we ended up doing a track with the musician Bob Log III with lyrics by Dieter Roth, as well as some remixes. We’re constantly trying out ideas, such as on the “Green Eggs And Ham” track, we’re trying out beats that were similar to Juke music.

E: We might be doing some more festivals next year, such as Primavera but that’s about it.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Iceland, literature, music

 

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Reykjavik Grapevine: Features: Breakbeat.is – “Bringing The Breakbeat To Book”

Did an interview last week with Kalli and Ragnar from Icelandic DJ collective breakbeat.is about their crowdsourcing publishing project “Taktabrot”, which is a design book detailing the history of the collective though their poster art.

And said feature is now online for you to readYou can also see their kickstarter style page and promotional video HERENice guys to speak to. Even after all this time, they’re still fighting the good fight of trying to get solid beats to Icelandic ears and minds, which is pretty much a constant battle at times.

Slowly but surely though, the message is getting though. Was at a local bar named Bakkus dancing last weekend, when out of the blue, DJ Maggi Lego started playing some really good Funky Bass beats from Roska Kicks and Snares! This took me back so much i ended up dancing till closing time!

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Iceland, literature

 

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Reykjavík Grapevine: Culture: Interview: “Lights, Streaming, Action!”

So a while back i interviewed Sunna and Steffi, a couple of sparky young ladies who had started up a new film company ICELANDIC CINEMA ONLINE, that set out to make Icelandic films available to stream on the internet. And the article is up on da netz for your perusal. GO AND READ IT NOW!! I also recommend the site. It has a lot of rather nice films and docs available. The Music documentaries are especially good.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Film, Iceland, literature

 

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Reykjavik Grapevine: Interview: Not Your Conventional Rock Star…

So a few weeks ago, US avant-garde rocker BOBBY CONN arrived in Iceland as part of his “Rise Up!” tour. I managed to catch him on the second night and he wasn’t half bad actually. Very glam, a little sleazy, and LOTS of guitar rock freak outs.

Oh and i also managed to get a little interview done with him for the Grapevine, as is my wont. The title was going to be “not your CONNventional rock star”, but this got lost in the proofreading. Mind you i should have pointed this out first. Nevermind, it was a shit pun anyway…..

Not Your Conventional Rock Star: Bobby Conn Rises Up In Iceland

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Posted by on December 14, 2010 in Iceland, literature, music

 

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Reykjavik Grapevine: Interview: “The Lovely Crooked World Of Mount Kimbie…”

Ok just before Airwaves started, i managed to conduct an interview with Kai Campos from Dubstep benders Mount Kimbie. He was pretty gracious and patient, despite my attempts not to say the word “Post-Dubstep”. It was a nice little chat. Alas talk about changing the origin of the name and why James Blake won’t allow any remixes of songs didn’t make the cut, but i hope you’ll  enjoy the read.

The lovely crooked world of Mount Kimbie…..

 

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2010 in Iceland, literature, music

 

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