26th Nov2010

Your New Favorite Band: For A Minor Reflection

by Todd

Hailing from Iceland FaMR comprises of four 20-somethings from Reykjavík, Iceland – Kjartan Holm (guitar), Guðfinnur Sveinsson (guitar and piano), Elvar Jón Guðmundsson (bass) and Andri Freyr Þorgeirsson (percussion). Their music is best described as energetic, melodious post-rock, though being the natural creative visionaries they are, the band expand and even subvert their style with almost every song. Kjarton, lead guitarist and songwriter talked to Todd about their album of the year-candidate release, Höldum í átt að óreiðu.

TDOA: We’ve interviewed several bands from Iceland and are very aware of the great history of music there. Nonetheless, we find it amazing that there are so many good bands coming from your country. It would appear that there is a greater focus on music in your country than here in the United States. Can you talk about why music is such an important part of life in Iceland?

Kjarton: I guess it’s a classic thing to say that ‘we don’t have anything better to do’, which is right to a certain point. But I think it’s just so very easy to be inspired to create something new here in Iceland. Because it’s a very small but really beautiful country, and we have all these different artists, whether they’re musicians, painters, writers or whatever, who only need to look out their window and see the mountains or go downtown and look at the people to get ideas for some new art, in any form. But I guess that the musicians have gotten the most attention abroad, thanks to Björk and Sigur Rós and all that. I also like the atmosphere among musicians here in Iceland. Everybody are friends and have shows together. There isn’t much of competition, just friends influencing one another with their music!

TDOA: Quite honestly, I don’t like many of the bands that are classified as “post-rock” because they write songs that tend to be self-indulgent and dull. However, I would never classify your music that way. As your write songs, how do you edit yourselves to keep the music interesting and perpetually intense?

Kjarton: When we write our music, we try to make it as melodic as we can. So far we don’t have any vocals, so the melodies are our lead instruments. We like it loud, and of course we also like it mellow and beautiful. But I agree with you on that the ‘post-rock’ genre is often self-indulgent and dull, and I guess we’re just trying not to get stuck in the same thing, song after a song. Always trying something new, one step at a time.

TDOA: How did you become involved with KEXP? Can you talk a bit about how they have supported music in Iceland?

Kjarton: The KEXP crew is fantastic! We originally came in contact with them during the Iceland Airwaves festival in 2009, when we were asked to play a couple of songs for them in Stúdíó 12, which is a studio inside the National Icelandic Broadcasting Service building. They recorded the set with a small introduction from Einar Örn, former member of Sykurmolarnir and then broadcasted it on their website. We’ve gotten quite the attention thanks them. But we were not the only band they recorded. They recorded number of other great Icelandic bands also, and helped them in that same way. We were honored to do the same thing this year also.

TDOA: Can you talk about your experiences touring with Sigur Rós? First, what did you learn from being around them and watching them play?

Kjarton: The Sigur Rós tour was something that I will never forget. Going from playing for 150 people to 10.000 people every night is quite the experience! We supported them for nearly a month all over Europe. I think it were around 16 or 17 shows, and we sold over 2000 records on that tour. This is by far the most fun thing I’ve ever done. And of course you learn a lot from watching these guys. These guys are professionals! Seeing how they organize things is probably the most amazing part of the whole learning process.

TDOA: Second, do you have any interesting stories about that tour? Anything that happened backstage that would be interesting to fans?

Kjarton: I could probably release a pretty thick book with all the stories that took place both backstage, in the tour buses and just during the whole tour. But I’m not going to give anything up this time. Let’s just say that these guys know how to enjoy life, as they should!

TDOA: Can you tell us about the “Inspired By Iceland” campaign and how you became involved with it?

Kjarton: Inspired By Iceland was a pretty cool concept. The idea was to inform people all over the world about Iceland. We were maybe not the most popular country for a while due to the financial crisis and Eyjafjallajökull, the massive volcano that stopped air traffic all over Europe. So this was kind of a marketing plan to regain some respect and make peace. We were, among many other Icelandic band, chosen to play somewhere in the country side of Iceland and they would record it and put it on their Inspired By Iceland website. We got one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to in Iceland, Hellnar, an ancient fishing village situated on the westernmost part of Snæfellsnes. There we played a song called ‘Dansi Dans’ with a little help of two cellos and an acoustic guitar and that video immediately got a lot of views. Great experience.

TDOA: You played some shows in the U.S. a couple of years ago. Can you talk about that experience and how life/culture is different here than in Iceland?

Kjarton: The U.S. and Canada tour was our first tour. I think we were only 17 or 18 years old by then. An American band called Northern Valentine and a Canadian band called Holoscene contacted us through MySpace after our first Iceland Airwaves appearance in 2007 and invited us on a three weeks tour in U.S. and Canada. That was really fun, it’s a lot different than playing in Europe. I think that Europeans are more open minded towards this kind of music than the Americans, but I might be wrong. Anyway, it was a really fun tour though!

TDOA: You played some shows in the U.S. a couple of years ago. Can you talk about that experience and how life/culture is different here than in Iceland?

Kjarton: This year was our fourth Iceland Airwaves appearance and by far the weirdest one. We were on a nearly month long European tour and landed on the Friday of Iceland Airwaves and played later that same night. We flew in from Gatwick airport in the UK and our flight was delayed for three or four hours I think so we were getting pretty nervous that we wouldn’t make it in time. But eventually we were allowed to board the plane and landed in Iceland during dinner time, missed our sound check, so we only got a quick line check right before the gig. But when we finally got on stage and played – the venue called Iðnó – was packed and there was a huge line outside the venue. So just like in the fairy tales, everything ended well! I didn’t get to see many bands though. I saw Hercules and Love Affair, I think they’re called, and they were really good.

TDOA: What’s next for the band? New music? Coming back to the U.S.?

Kjarton: Right now we’re just working on new material and planning some tours hopefully early 2011. Both in U.S. and Europe.

You can purchase their amazing new album via iTunes
here in the U.S.: Höldum í átt að óreiðu – For a Minor Reflection

and here in the U.K.: Höldum í átt að óreiðu – For a Minor Reflection

Trackbacks & Pings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Get Adobe Flash player