... ... a letter for the stars: Knowing... Olafur Arnalds

19 marzo 2008

Knowing... Olafur Arnalds

A Letter For The Stars has cooked a delicious "Nouvelle Cousine" menu for this holidays. We have been talking with Olafur Arnalds, one of the most impresive Icelandic new bands, similar to classical composers like Max Ritcher or Johann Johannsson. His album "Eulogy For Evolution" has recieved great reviews all over the world, a beautiful record that explores Olafur´s deepest feelings.
By now, Olafur is touring the USA pplaying his new EP "Variations Of Static" and "Eulogy For Evolution". We have had the chance to talk to Olafur about his thoughts, concerns and inspirations in the first interview in Spanish language. There are his words... (Ir a la versión en castellano)

Hi Oli, how are you? Have you ever been in Spain?
- I'm good thank you, i just got back from a short tour around Europe where we played London, Brussels, Cologne and Amsterdam. It was a lot of fun!

To start with, I would like you talk about "Eulogy for evolution", your first full lenght. Why did you decide to create an album so different from the other projects you have (like
Fighting Shit)?
- It's not really a decision.. you just do what you do. Fighting Shit is one thing, this is another. And I like both.

There is a beatiful feel during the whole album, with incredible soundscapes. What did you think when you started working on the album? Is the result close to this or did you find that you went in directions you hadn't expected? Does it reference anything special for you?
- The album was inspired by the death of a close relative, which struck me pretty hard, and the birth of his grandson only a short time later. That got me thinking about the evolution of life and how always when something bad happens it's just the beginning of something new. Of course my ideas of how I wanted the album to be changed during the time I was working on it but I am definitely happy with the end result.

The project could be described as "classical" because you use instruments like violin, piano,... . but how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
- I wouldn't say "classical" because then people start thinking about the "great classical composers", and I am nothing like them. I actually hate describing my own music because I still haven't found the words to describe it accurately to someone who has never heard it. The media has called it postrock classic, classical indie, neo classic, electro classic, film score music... I guess it's just a mixture of all of this.

We can find some similarities with the Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson´s "Angels Of The Universe", what do you think about it and the comparison with Johann Johannsson music?
- I guess there are some similarities, we are in a pretty similar genre. But I hadn't heard much of Jóhann Jóhannsson's music when I made this album and I think that we have a completely different method of approaching our music, even though the end result might be a bit similar.

Would you consider working on a soundtrack, and what kind of films would you like to score?
- Yes I definitely would, and I am currently looking for such an oppurtunity. I haven't thought much about what kind of films I would like to score, but I guess just good films! haha

How is your typical song created? What do you find easy to create, classical compositions or indie songs? Have you ever thought about using vocal chords like another instrument?
- It's very different.. Sometimes it's just how the hands automatically move in a certain direction on the piano and I get the basic idea from that which I then work with. But other times I have a very specific idea in my head before I start working on it. It can also be some great inspiration i get from a movie or something and I just know already what kind of a song I want to make from that inspiration.. There are so many answers to this question!
Sometimes I find it very easy to write classical music and sometimes i find it very hard, and i guess it's also the same with writing indie music. It just depends of which state of mind your head is in.. It definitely takes me less time to write indie music, but it's not neccesarily easier.
Who knows, maybe I will introduce some vocals on my next record..

Although it seems to be a classical album, could you ever expect the great reviews you get from the indie world? Could it add you too much pressure for future releases?
- I actually don't like to think of it too much as a classical record. From the beginning i wanted to market it as an indie record, not classical. I don't want to be stuck within some "elite" classical genre, i wanted to make music that everyone could listen to, whether they are into classical music or indie music or whatever.. I'm very happy with the record, so i expected some good reviews, but i would never have expected getting 4 and 5 stars in every single review! It definitely adds some pressure as I am a really big perfectionist and i wouldn't want to get worse reviews for my second record than i did for my first one.. but i just do what i do and hopefully it will be okay...

Who has influenced you in your work? Knowing your very different projects it´s difficult to guess your musical likes, what sounds in Oli Arnalds music player?
- I don't really know who inspires me the most, i guess most of the things that inspire me do so without me noticing it.. My favorites from the classical world are Max Richter, Shostakovich, Chopin, Bach and many more..

Talking about non-musical inspirations, what are other thinks that went into the making of the album?
- I think movies are probably my biggest inspiration.. Usually when i really feel like writing music, it's right after i watch a good movie that makes me feel some feelings, good or bad..

Iceland seems to have an incredible atmosphere for all kind of artists, why do you think this could happen? What´s your opinion about your neighbors Sigur Ros and his last release Heima?
- I have no idea why Iceland has so many good bands.. Of course not all of the bands here are good though! We have a lot of shit bands like every other country.. As for Sigur Rós, I like them but I have never been a huge fan. Their new film, Heima, is incredible though! I had goosebumps all over while watching it!

How is an Olafur Arnalds´ live show? Do you prefer privacy of small places?
- I play live with a piano, a computer, loop effects and foot pedals, synths and with me is a string quartet. I like both big and small places. Small places are usually more intimate and it's easier to create a nice atmosphere. But the big places can also accomplish that, but you just have to do it with a different approach.. When manage to create the nice and intimate atmosphere in a big place, those are the best shows!

Are you planning touring around Spain?
- Yes, we are currently working on getting some distribution in southern Europe, and as soon as that happens I will go on tour there! Hopefully soon!

Finally, and talking about near future, Have any steps been taken to record a second album? Do you already have an idea of which direction you want to go?
- I already recorded an EP called Variations of Static. It should be released in April. But I am in the first steps of writing my next full length.. I don't want to tell anything at this stage about which direction it will go to, especially as i haven't really decided yet. But I am really happy with the material i have so far and i am confident that it will be an album to be proud of!

Mp3 - 3055

Video 0400 (Live)

Video Fok (Live)

2 comentarios:

Erendira dijo...

No me habia dado el tiempo de leer con detenimiento esta entrevista.

Es maravillosa, no paraba de sonreir mientras la leia una y otra vez.

Es increible que en tan poco tiempo Oli se haya hecho tan famoso (en cierto sentido).
Me gustaria verlo en México. Aunque un amigo me comentó que cuando lo vió no se le hizo tan extraordinario como en el album.

En fin... un nuevo encargo: Peter Broderick. =] Su nuevo album me inspira mucho.

El Chico Estelar dijo...

Hola Eréndira!!!

Me alegro mucho de volver a verte por aquí. Es reconfortante que a alguien tan entendida como tu le haya gustado la entrevista...

Respecto a lo de Peter Broderick, ya sabes, todo se andará...

Saludos estelares