Hi Ólafur Kolbeinn Guðmundsson! Please introduce yourself to our ROK readers…You’re a fisherman, right? But afterhours a musician. How come?
I have been involved in music since as long as I remember, so maybe the right question would be: Why a fisherman? I started working as a fisherman after the financial crisis in 2008, and have been since.
Can you describe us your first musical memories? Who where your first musical heroes?
Music is an irremovable part of my memories… especially the childhood ones. My first musical hero is definitely W. A. Mozart! I loooooved Mozart! The first recording I bought was a tape of his piano sonatas kv332 and kv333. I learned every single note by heart, and sang all the voices alternately, whilst listening to my walkman.
When did you start to make music yourself? Which instruments do you play? Where do we find your musical roots?
I have been making music for as long as I remember. I remember playing a piece by myself when applying for a music school at age 6. When I was a teenager, I became depressed, because I didn´t see any new way of making music. All the best music had already been composed, and in my opinion there was a real difficulty in sounding original, yet audible. (Arnold Schönberg for instance created a really wonderful way of creating original music, (theoretically) but unfortunately most people won´t last 30 seconds listening to it) so I just decided I would play music by others.
Then later I discovered the wonders of electronic music! I still find fascinating how every theory about creating and releasing tension by harmonic progression is overthrown by voltage controlled overtones! (acid techno). At age 16 I started in a band called “Súrefni” (sour chemic) and we mostly played acid techno. About 3 years later, I decided EDM wasn´t really a fountain of endless originality, and started piano studies again. I graduated with a b.mus in classical piano playing.
I have sometimes played synths/drum machines or drums in local bands. I can also play the recorder!
Previous project was techno trio “Korter Í Þrjú”? What’s the story behind this trio, your brother was involved as well, isn’t it? Do you want to explain what it meant the name of the band, “15 minutes before 3”?
The “Korter í þrjú” project is a result from a crazy afterparty that my friend Ingimar and I were in at Bolungarvík, hosted by one of the organizers of “Aldrei fór ég suður” festival. We had had a lot to drink and we told the host (jokingly) not to worry, we would probably be able to play at the festival. He asked if we had any material and we answered “yes we have loads of unwritten stuff”. Then surprisingly we were somehow booked and had to make some music in a hurry. I managed to persuade my brother Jón Steinar that he should definitely join us in the band and tweak some buttons, it would loads of fun. And it sure was.
When we were young men, all the clubs and bars in Iceland closed at 3am. There was a weird atmosphere of desperation that formed about a quarter to three, when all the partygoers tried to find an afterparty, and the single people made one last desperate attempt to find a companion for the night. We thought it was a funny and suitable name for a band that played sweaty acid techno.
Excerpt from the live performance @ Aldrei festival (2010)
Tell us about Rambelta? Where does the name Rambelta come from? What kind of instruments do you use? Why this particular stuff?
I started the “Rambelta” project after being depressed about not playing or making music. I had a severe accident at sea, making it impossible to play difficult piano music. Electronic music is perfect for me, having endless possibilities of sound and not having to practice an instrument 16 hours a day. I can just program my sequencers, and they will be just as agile when I get back from sea a few weeks later.
Coming up with band names seems comically difficult for such creative people as musicians. I decided on the name “rambelta” because I was a 100% sure no one had used it before, as the word – which means see-saw – is only used in my small hometown of Hafnarfjörður. Elsewhere it’s called “vegasalt”.
I find it really fun to try new equipment, but I really love the sound of analog synthesizers and drum machines. Not only can you hear them, but you can “feel” them in your guts! It can also be creative to wrestle with limited “budget” equipment. I have a special fondness for small battery operated machines that I can play with whilst lying in the sofa. My newest sensation is a Swedish engineering masterpiece “teenage engineering OP-1″. It´s really small, it can do almost everything and it´s very intuitive. I usually take it with me to work.
You made 4 EPs so far. Upcoming releases perhaps? Other projects you are involved in maybe?
“Vox Nihili” (2013)
“Event Matrix” (2015)
I have a lot of projects in my drawer, ready to spring out, when I have the time, you will be the first to hear about them!
Do you want to share with us your favourite Icelandic band(s), albums, song(s), video(s)?
I recommend checking out Möller records and FALK music, also Plasmabell. And of course I really recommend the genius that is my little sister: Hildur Guðnadóttir!
You recently moved to Ísafjörður, the capital of the West Fjords. A town made famous by local musician Mugison by organizing the Aldrei fór ég suður (Never went south) festival there every Easter. New studio in the basement isn’t it?
My plans are to have loads of fun in the studio! I might even make “real music” if I find the time!
Thanks a lot Óli and all the best with Rambelta and your new habitat in the Far West.
Check & buy Rambelta’s EPs here:
Check FaceBook here:
– Wim Van Hooste