ROK had an interview with Berndsen, the bearded & redheaded man behind Berndsen is of course the one & only Davíð Berndsen.
Hello Davíð! A new album coming our way from the smokey bay. We are very curious to hear “Alter Ego”, your third album.
More back to the 80s electropop, or did you find new inspiration, influences?
Can you tell us some exclusive things about this album perhaps?
Well we have around 7-8 songs almost ready but we want to make 10 songs for the LP. Things are going quite well these day with the album but its been very hard work to make the album sound like I want to, I am also getting older and the album is much more relaxed than our last two albums, probably when I got married and had a baby girl I got soft and started to listen a lot to Bruce Springsteen and ambient music so things developed from all those things!
Who will do the artwork for the album?
We are still working on the idea. My wife is going to help with that one and probably our friend Sveinbjörn who did the Planet-earth cover.
When can we expect the first video for a song of the album?
I am actually editing two videos at the moment but I am not 100% happy with them so I think I might reshoot a bit so things are taking longer then expected.
Here’s a taste of the new album:
>>> Single “Alter Ego” (2016) feat. vocals by upcoming singer-songwriter Elín Ey (of sister act Sísý Ey fame) and Silla Thorarensen!
The album was funded by a Karolina Fund Project.
Do you think this is the new way to release albums in the future, funding by fans from all around Planet Earth?
I think its a great I-dea when you do everything yourself and don´t have a lot of money or a big label behind you! Then its super nice to seek help from people who like your music and ask for their support
Will “Alter Ego” have a physical release as CD or vinyl LP as well?
Yes, Cd and Vinyl! I am so into the 80´s that its a must to make physical releases!
What an impressive list of collaborators for this 3rd release, my friend. F. ex. the one and only JSM of Stuðmenn fame on bass and even Högni of Hjaltalín and GusGus fame on vocals.
Hrafnkell Gauti Sigurðarson – Guitar Bassi Ólafsson – Drums Jón Elísson – Piano Ragnar Árni – Sax Helgi R. Heiðarsson -Sax Sveinbjörn Thorarensen – Drums, Guitar, Synths Elín Ey – Vocals Sigurlaug Thorarensen – Vocals Arnljótur Sigurðsson – Bass Friðfinnur Sigurðsson – Bass Jakob Smári Magnússon – Fretless Bass Högni Egilsson – Vocals
Was it a hard time to get all these people into your studio the past 3 years? Do you search a musician/vocalist after writing a song that fits into the song? Or otherwise?
I have been working a lot with my friend Hrafnkell Gauti Sigurðarson on this album and we throw ideas around and call our friends to play live instruments for the tracks, If you want to get the best fretless player then you call Jakob Smári! And he is such a nice guy and likes the atmosphere we try to create, But I really wanted female voices a long with my voice for the new album so we talked to Silla and Elin Ey and Þórunn Antonía for that, Högni just happened to walk by my studio one day and I asked him could you try this vocal part ! Because I had a hard time singing it and he just nailed it at the spot hehe so that was a funny accident, and of course my friend Hermigervill. He helps when he can, but he´s superbusy ,but I call him when I really need help with the mix and what not
You collaborated with Hermigervill (Sveinbjörn Thorarensen) before, and with Oculus, Þórunn Antonía Magnúsdóttir (aka Thorunn Antonia) and Bubbi in the past.
We made a short overview of your collaborations over the years:
>>> Thorunn Antonia + Berndsen: “For you love” in the Studio (2010)
>>> Hermigervill + Berndsen: “Data Hunter” from “Planet Earth” live at Stúdíó A on the Icelandic TV (2013)
>>> Oculus + Berndsen: “Show us” (2014) Video directed by Máni M. Sigfússon
>>> Bubbi Morthens + Berndsen “Úlfur Úlfur”(2012)
The most unexpected one is with Bubbi, Iceland’s own Bruce Springsteen (?!). Tell us how this duet came alive? A Radio Show, am I right?
That was couple of years ago when I just to be his sound technican for this RadioShow, Óli Palli at Rás2 he was always telling Bubbi that we should do a song together and I was like that could work! Hehe and it took a very long time to find the song and make some magic but I was lucky enough to have a big crew of friends who helped with the track and later came the song Úlfur Úlfur.
Your previous album was called “Planet Earth” (2013). What is the biggest difference with your new album “Alter Ego”?
I wanted to have more live elements on the album, So Bassi Ólafs drummer from Kiriyama Family he played live drums on couple of tracks, and I just wanted to have more live instruments on the album, like trompets, sax, live bass and guitar. And of course old synthesizers.
Buy the album here:
>>> “Monster Forest”
>>> “Game of chance”
Your début album “Lover in the dark” (Borgin, 2009) was re-released in Japan (Donuts Pop, 2011), Germany (101berlin, 2011) and The Netherlands (Geertruida, 2012) later on. How does that feel to be released abroad? How did this happen? Networking, coincidence, friends of friends … ?
It’s mostly meeting great people and become friends and work on something together, But Japan is still a bit mysterious how that came around hehe. I really want to visit Japan and find out what happened and play some live concerts there!
>>> “Supertime” Video directed by Helgi Jóhannsson
Let us go back to your childhood & youth.
Were did you grow up?
When came music into your life?
Early age, but making music wasn´t until around when I was 17 years old.
Which instruments do you play? Learned at school or at a music school?
I learned audio engineering in Amsterdam, but music just by YouTube and friends! And from Keli Guitar.
When did you start to sing?
Around 2008 when we started to make “Lover in the Dark”, I was always trying to find someone to sing in my songs but it was tricky so I just decided to try and with Hermigervill´s help and beating me with a poking stick when I hit the fail note and training from him I have been singing since.
You studied in The Netherlands. I can remember a lot of Icelandic youngsters went to art school in Holland in the 90s, funded by the Dutch government as I remember it right. They joined the Dutch-Icelandic Association as I did.
When did you go to Holland? And why Holland? How do you look back at this period in your life? Can you tell us some interesting stories about your time in Holland?
One of my best friend lived in Utrecht when I was 16 years old and he just told me to come and find something to do in Holland and I chose SAE in Amsterdam. And probably the best Idea and faith involved with that choice because there I met Hermigervill and we started to make music together and great friends like Kiddi keyboard player in Valdimar, Tilbury and hanged out all the time, it was the best of times living in Holland!
I always ask musicians about their all time favourite Icelandic album(s), song(s) and video(s). So name yours please…
My favourite album is Pax Vobis
Favourite song is probably Björk’s “All is full of love”
Favourite video is Herbert Guðmundsson’s “Can´t walk away”
And some non-Icelandic favourites?
David Bowie – Low
Bruce Springsteen – Sad Eyes
Echo and the Bunnymen – Bring on The Dancing Horses
Takk Davíð, and all the best with your ‘Alter Ego’tripping!
– Wim Van Hooste
All Photographs by ROK Photographer Sonja Verbeeck