Q&A with Mammút (#airwaves18)
Flights and hotel room are booked, more than 200 Icelandic and international acts are announced, and so anticipation for Iceland Airwaves 2018 is getting in full gear. We start our pre-coverage with one of our favorite Icelandic bands, the fabulous Mammút, who we didn’t see on their home turf yet but last year in Brooklyn.
We reached out to the indie rock quartet and are thrilled that bassist Ása Dýradóttir was so kind to answer our questions:
Q: What was the first album you have ever bought? Digital, vinyl, CD or cassette tape?
A: I got some money to spend in Kolaportið (Reykjavík’s flea market) when I was 6 years old. It was right after easter, I couldn’t have an easter egg because sugar made me vomit at the time so I got to choose my own album instead. I bought Bob Marley’s Legend because of his hair and handsomeness. I guess it’s a great album to start your music-listening life. It’s impossible to dislike it, unless you’re a psychopath or just very bleak and dead on the inside.
Q: Do you still own this album?
A: It’s somewhere at my parents’ house in Iceland. They haven’t thrown anything away since the 70s.
Q: At what age did you see your first live show/ concert? And who was it?
A: My first memory of being at a live “show” wasn’t a gig but a fitness show in Reykjavík. It was booming with the loudest techno, strobe lights and very fit people jumping around like idiots. I was probably around 4 or 5. It was amazing and I didn’t understand it. I fell asleep because the noise became like a thick and warm electronic bedding over my head and ears. The main star of the show was Iceland’s best known fitness legend of the 90s Magnús Schewing.
Q: Sadly, we missed your show(s) during Iceland Airwaves 2016 but were fortunate enough, to see you performing live at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory last year. What an intense and absolutely amazing experience. We’ll definitely make it a priority for this year’s festival to see Mammút live.
Is there something you remember fondly from your trip to New York?
A: It was the first time we play a show in NYC that’s absolutely packed with people, pure focus and interest in our music and performance. The vibe in Williamsburg that night was amazing, and we just had a great time.
Q: What’s your songwriting process like? What comes first, melody or lyrics?
A: The songwriting process is very flowy and open, no sacred way of tackling it regarding instruments or status inside the band. But melody always comes first, like a flower that opens its head and welcomes the rest of the song, whether it ever becomes one or not. We really cherish everything we come up with, and only recently have we learned to let ideas pass on to somewhere else where they might be needed. It can be so creative and releasing to throw away the fruit of your mind, because there’s always another one there if you’re open to it. But at the same time we’ve learned to know when its right to linger on the same idea for months, until you hate it with all your being, only to come back to it later and use it. It’s like a quality fermentation process. It’s a very sensitive dance.
Q: The first festival announcements for Iceland Airwaves 2018 have been made. Whom are you looking forward to see?
A: Of the international acts I’d like to see Fever Ray. But for me the festival is mostly about the Icelandic bands performing. Having grown up as a part of the Reykjavik music scene you acquire a deep relationship with the festival. It’s the time of harvest. The same people play in different bands year after year along with the most interesting newcomers and every year feels like the whole scene brings its A-Game.
Q: There is music day and night during Iceland Airwaves. What is your top one non-music related recommendation to do/to see while in Reykjavík?
A: When you‘ve moved away from Iceland, you realize that the best thing about Reykjavík are the swimming pools. It’s very simple. Start your day in either Vesturbæjarlaugin or Sundhöll Reykjavíkur and make plans for the afternoon with mates and dates and go over the previous night. It’s also the best hangover cure. (Please drive away from the city if you have access to a vehicle, there are such nice pools in every little town, no matter how dead it seems.)
Q: Where can you get a tasty and affordable meal in Reykjavik?
A: Two food-halls have opened in Reykjavík in the last year or so, at Hlemmur and Grandi. They are attempts to replicate food halls like Torvehallerne in Copenhagen, and even though they’re of course a lot smaller and with less variety, they’re actually quite alright. Both of them are a few minutes walk from the city center, I recommend going to Grandi if walking. If you’re cold and life’s heavy, go to Noodle Station for a soup. They’re super affordable and tasty.
Q: If you could have any musical instrument in the world, which one would it be and why?
A: I have a crush on the Roli Seaboard synth, it’s so sensual both in sound and touch, it’s almost sexual. I’ve never tried anything like it.
Q: If you could choose to live in a decade (music, style, etc.) which one would it be?
A: The current one, use history to mold your knowledge and experiences but don’t get stuck in it. Pure nostalgia is for assholes.
Thank you very much, Ása, we truly enjoyed getting to know a bit more what moves you and what you’d recommend to music lovers and foodies like Oliver and me. We were deeply impressed by the music community the first time around, that is one of the main reasons why we wanted to come back.
Fever Ray would have also been our top non-Icelandic must-see act, yet yesterday she had canceled her tour and her Airwaves gig. Fortunately, that is no reason to be sad as there is a plethora of fantastic acts set to perform at the festival. Thank you also for the dining recommendations, maybe see you there?
Iceland Airwaves happens from November 7 to 10 in Reykjavik, Iceland. More info here.