Boogie Trouble released their debut album “Í bænum” a few days ago. So ROK thought it was time to have a chat with Sindri, the guitarist of the band.
Sindri, please introduce all the Boogie Trouble members to us.
Band members include myself, Sindri, guitarist, also a member of surf band ‘Bárujárn’; Ingibjörg Elsa Turchi, a bass-fiend de-luxe, active in practically all 101 Reykjavík music projects; Klara Arnalds, a newly baked mother, graphic designer and Boogie Troubles happy-go-lucky frontperson and lead-singer; Sunna Karen Einarsdóttir, keyboardist, academic wonderchild, workhorse and sweetheart of Ísafjörður; Arnar Birgish, percussionist, tourist-guide and painter and our newest member is Þorvaldur Ingveldarson, drummer extrordinaire, hunk of a man and member of rock outfit ‘Noise’ that just released an album.
When we perform live we are joined by the likes of Daníel Sigurðsson, jazzman of ‘Óregla’; Tumi Árnason, saxophonist of ‘Grísalappalísa’; Soffía Björg Óðinsdóttir and Mr. Silla who are getting a lot of attention for their respective solo-carriers, and Haukur our dancer.
You are definitely not a disco coverband or a parody of a discoband. When did you start to make this ‘honest discofun popmusic’?
We started out in 2013 and played our first gig at a wedding of our friends on winter solstice the same year.
Did the band started by doing covers of hits from the 70s?
No, we started out by writing our own songs, but as things progressed we started throwing these huge balls, dances, at local watering hole ‘Húrra’ and covered ABBA, Donna Summer, Brothers Johnson etc, along with our own material.
Explain us the history of the name of the band…
The name came from our friend Pétur Torfi. We had been without a name for a long time and a gig was coming up so we just went with it. As far as I know it doesn’t refer to anything or mean anything.
How and where did you meet each other?
I had been thinking of writing pop music for a while back in 2013, and Klara and Ingibjörg were thinking of making some sort of Motown music, so we met up and clicked together. After some writing we got Siggi, past drummer of’ Sprengjuhöllin’ and Jói who was a member of ‘Kiriyama Family’ at the time to join us and started playing gigs.
We went through a few band members and a few producers while playing a lot around Iceland and finally recorded our debut album with Janus Rasmussen of ‘Bloodgroup’ and ‘Kiasmos’ during what would be the whole year of 2015.
You do write your songs in Icelandic. What’s the reason behind this?
Well writing in Icelandic comes naturally and speaking for myself I consciously try to catch the spirit of the lyrics in Icelandic golden oldies. They might have remnants of poetry metrics and convey generalities about human existence, opposite to e.g. personal stories of singer-songwriters tending to be about their own feelings.
It’s easy to fall in to meaningless clichés when writing in English. I try to make meaningful lyrics from archetypes while writing Boogie Trouble songs. We thought of translating the album and maybe we will one day!
Where do you find your inspiration for the song: books, movies, poems, nature, daily life,… ?
The tracks are inspired from 70’s disco and funk, but also Icelandic pop-music songwriting tradition (which happens to be Italian rip-offs in half the cases). The lyrical themes are general instead of personal, more like a story than speaking your mind, descriptions of sort.
The title track “Í bænum” is about going out partying in Reykjavík, which is the opposite of dating culture. You f*ck first, and if you still have interest you ask questions later. So as the song goes, some get lucky and go home together and if a relationship forms people get tired of partying, buy a house in the suburbs and end under a rock.
“Steinunn” is about escaping to the countryside, inspired by a poem of Steinunn Sigurðuardóttir and “Moldun” is kind of a funeral hymn. The chorus in “Glópagull” is an approximation of the book of Ecclesiastes verses 3.2-8.
In general Í bænum covers broad themes of life, love and death.
You are well known for the band’s live performances. Can you think why you built up such a reputation over the years?
I think it is because our gigs are fun to play and fun to watch. We are not all dead serious about music while performing, though we try to stay professional. When playing live we usually try to bring out the big guns and get help from our friends.
You released your debut album “Í bænum” recently on ‘Melur Records’. The album was recorded at the famous Sundlaugin studio. Can you tell us more about the record label?We started out in sundlaugin in the summer of 2014 with our friend Skapti Þóroddsson who tracked drums and all the instruments live. The original plan was to capture a live vibe and raw energy. As the mixing progressed we came slowly to the conclusion that we wanted a fully fledged expensive sounding killer album with a million overdubs. The opposite of the original plan. So after years pause when I moved to Sweden to finish my degree, we picked up the pace again and hired the talented Janus Rasmussen. We recorded everything except for the drums again and addedd a million layers, synthesizers, strings, brass and the whole galore until we were satisfied. That took almost a year more though.
‘Melur Records’ is a label I founded while in high school to release my own music and some of my friends’ music, most of it silly stuff that I sold in school. I was in a rap-band called ‘Thugz on Parole’ that did an album on the label and a solo rap album of mine about astronomy. It never went further than high school though. So when I started releasing more ambitious music, the first ‘Bárujárn’ album we decided to use the name and get a bank account and such. Surf/Doom outfit ‘Godchilla’ released their debut on the label and now the third proper release is the Boogie album. Next month I´ll be releasing a solo debut on the label in collaboration with Möller records, a new Bárujárn record will drop this year and a duet called ‘Dreprún’ will most likely be releasing on the label. The label is mostly a name to stick on my projects, solo and collaborative, and related projects of friends.
Any plans for a second album?
Not yet no. I have a catalogue of songs that we could use, but I suspect we will take a different direction on the sophomore album if we make it. For now promoting our album and playing live are our main objectives.
Some devoted fans asked me to ask about touring abroad. Are there already plans to promote the album outside Iceland?
It´s always fun to play abroad but it takes a bit more effort when you are based on an island in the Atlantic. Our singer Klara also just had her first baby, so at the moment even going for overnight shows in Iceland would require some effort. But in time I think we’d love to go if we find a decent booker and perhaps a label abroad.
Let’s end with some random questions:
Non-Icelandic influences, Icelandic inspiration?
Looking at my playlists I see that Dungen, Jacco Gardner, Mild High Club, Gang-starr, Madlib, Nas, Slayer and Sepultura seem to be high on the list as well as Jazz guitarists Wes Montgomery and Grant Green.
My favourite Icelandic artist is the late Rúnar Gunnarsson of the band ‘Dátar’.
An album I’ve been listening to obsessively lately is Containing the Dark, by a band called ‘Geislar’. It is ridiculous that it got almost no attention. Definitely one of the albums of the decade, in my opinion.
Favourite Icelandic bands, albums, songs, videos?
There are to many Icelandic bands doing good stuff at the moment. The black metal scene is incredible at the moment. I used to be a lot into the hippie rock, ‘Trúbrot’ and ‘Óðmenn’, Icelandic disco band ‘Þú & Ég’, but recent stuff is also killer, ‘Mammút’, ‘Ojba Rasta’, nineties stuff like ‘Botnleðja’, I could count names for days.
Favourite Icelandic food and drinks?
Plokkfiskur made with fresh very small potatoes grown by the ocean. Brennivín. Bjúgu-súkk and Mysukóla.
Favourite Icelandic venues to perform or to go chilling?
‘Húrra’ is very good and ‘Mengi’ can be fun. I’ve done a few surprisingly fun gigs at ‘Paloma’, that´s not a venue but a club. I like to hang out at ‘Stofan’ or ‘Tíu dropar’, drink lattés or red wine and bring a sketchbook for lyrics to do my share in upholding the stereotype that all people in 101 are degenerate, lazy, latté drinking hipsters on government aid.
More things you want to add…
For people not from Iceland, the best way to get a physical copy of our album is through our bandcamp site. The vinyl should be arriving pretty soon and you’ll be able to preorder it very, very soon. And thanks for listening!
More information here as well:
Thanks a lot and all the best with your début album!
– Wim Van Hooste