I can’t be at Airwaves this year (long story, will be back in 2014), so I thought I’d post a few interviews with artists performing at Airwaves that have previously been featured on the blog. There are also a couple of new interviews too.
During one long winter’s night a couple of years ago, possibly following a couple of Icelandic beers, and definitely to escape the savage freezing rain falling from the sky, a couple of my Icelandic pals pushed me through the door of Iðnó, an old theatre building next to Tjörnin in downtown Reykjavík.
Inside, a band was playing dense post-rock, with a stunning light show arcing overhead. No vocals punctuated their playing, just gradually building and expanding instrumentals that grabbed my attention, and made me forget the bottle of beer in my hand.
The band was For A Minor Reflection. According to their website, they are an “energetic, melodious rock band,” although this may be an oversimplification.
For a Minor Reflection comprises of four 22-year-olds from Reykjavík: Kjartan Hólm (guitar), Guðfinnur Sveinsson (guitar and piano), Elvar Jón Guðmundsson (bass) and Andri Freyr Þorgeirsson (drums).
I’ve seen them a couple of times since then, at the Iceland Airwaves festival and supporting Sigur Rós. For A Minor Reflection, perhaps unfairly, draw significant musical comparisons to Sigur Rós. This is not assisted by the fact that Sigur Rós and For a Minor Reflection share a duo of brothers.
I decided to get this matter out of the way when I caught up with Guðfinnur Sveinsson, also known as Guffi, from the band.
Is there a danger that you will be forever compared to Sigur Rós due to the familial connections and the similar sound? You received a huge amount of coverage on the last Sigur Rós tour. Was this generally a good thing?
It was a great thing to get all the attention we got, during and after our tour with Sigur Rós. I’m not scared of being compared to Sigur Rós, since it is one of my most favorite bands. And I think I speak for all of us, when I say that it’s an honor to be compared to them. But—regarding the similar sound—it’s my opinion that it’s not that similar, when you start to listen carefully.
I have listened carefully. For a Minor Reflection have released two albums, and an EP. Their debut album was a homemade affair held together with a paperclip.
Each release shows a sound that matures and improves on each outing. Their new EP, called EP (where do they get these crazy names?!) is sublime. I would call it “glacial”, but I’m afraid this has become a cliché when describing Icelandic music.
Are you sick of lazy journalists using the same old descriptions to describe your music? What if I mention the word “glacial”?!
Haha, that’s a good question! I like the word “glacial”, it’s new—and nice. It’s sometimes tiring to read the same descriptions over and over again. But on the other hand, these common descriptions probably describe our music in a way that is right.
How did you all meet? Are you all good friends?
Me and Kjartan met in a school party six years ago, started talking and it ended up being the beginning of our friendship. He invited me to play strip poker at his house and I did. We ended up—like you end up when playing strip poker—and at that point he invited me to join his band. That’s when For A Minor Reflection started, and the first band practice was the first time I met Elvar and Jói.
I move on quickly, before I too get invited to play strip poker. I’m terrible at card games.
I hear that you have been playing acoustically recently? How does this work?
We’ve not done a lot of it. It’s fun, but really hard—much harder than to play a normal set. My favorite acoustic gig so far was is Tallin, Estonia last year. We played in a courtyard for around 500 people, with sunshine and lots of happy faces. That was unforgettable!
It sounds it. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. I look forward to seeing the band in the future. They are always evolving, and changing things up to pique the audience’s interest.
Are you playing at this years Airwaves festival?
I’ve seen you live a couple of times, but not this year. How are For A Minor Reflection concerts these days?
We’re always trying to improve our visuals and expand our set. Last Airwaves festival we had a really nice setup of lights, visuals and accompanists playing cello, trombone and trumpet.
Who (else) should we look out for on the Icelandic new music scene?
Next on my playlist is Sigur Rós’ Valtari, I’ve not checked it out yet. For people in Europe in June, they should check out our friends in Agent Fresco—they’re on a European tour.
Why is new music so popular in Iceland?
I think that Iceland’s image helps a lot. A country far away in the north, but still not too cold to live in, must be exciting. And that’s again what makes us who we are. We are a nation of only 300,000 people, a small society and different values, a different place. That’s what—in my opinion—makes Icelandic music special in a way.
I agree, Icelandic music is special. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? After all, I am sat here listening to For A Minor Reflection on my headphones, with a cold beer in hand.
Roll on Iceland Airwaves in October, I say. For the music, not the card games.