HJALTALÍN Q&A: “COMPLAINING DOESN’T GET YOU ANYWHERE”
Check our Q&A with Reykjavik’s incredible 7 members…mutated and overgrown rock band Hjaltalín.
‘Crack In a Stone’ is the stunning track taken from their masterpiece album ‘Enter 4’, out now via Goodfellas. .
Can you describe your sound in 5 words?
How much did you change since 2004, when you were just students?
In 2004 we were kids, today we’re grown-ups. We had no worries, we didn’t know anything. We did stuff that kids do. Now we at least try to do stuff as grown-ups do.
We might answer that question differently in ten years – and hopefully we will.
What was the dream in 2004? And now?
The dream is to continue making music together and perform it, go to nice new places, and hopefully make the lifes of people better in some way.
On a more personal level, each member has his own life, friends, family and interests. Hjaltalín is a large part of the equation, but not the equation itself.Can you tell us a bit about “Enter 4” and “Crack In A Stone”?
Enter 4 is our third album, being released this fall in Europe, and ‘Crack in a Stone’ is the lead single from the album. It is a markedly different record from the previous record, and was written largely in the studio.
Some people say it’s dark, but there is certainly some lightness also, hope lurking behind the scenes. It was a difficult period recording it for many reasons, but also very rewarding.
We released the video for Crack in a Stone some months ago. It is a medium tempo tune with some synths and a string arrangement, mostly written by Högni at a rehearsal, and with lyrics by him.
How did you come up with the idea to cover Beyoncé’s “Halo?
We were asked to do a live-performance in the national radio station, Rás 2. They asked for three songs, two of our own and one cover. We picked this Beyonce song simply because we had played it a few times just for fun in conserts.
We wanted to do a traditional well known hit-song, strip it down and try to make it fit our soundscape. We put it on youtube few months later. It was very well received and became a hit in Iceland. Honestly, we had not expected that, but it was a nice and pleasant surprice.
How was the experience at the Sundlaugin studio?
Good. Beautiful studio in a beautiful surroundings. It’s very inspiring and also soothing to record music so near the countryside. We mostly worked on the album in another studio though, Studio Sýrland. That was our “home” for few weeks.
After the soundtrack for Days Of Grey” , are you going to continue your cinematic work?
Who knows. It was a pleasant experience. On the other hand that project was not a traditional cinema project. Days of Gray is a silent film, so all the soundscape is music – our music.
There are no dialogues so the music played a different role than in
traditional cinematic scores. The film is a beautiful visual piece, and we are extremely satisfied with the outcome.
What music do you listen to?
Well, the whole lot of it, I guess. Different members have different taste, but some things I think we all like. We like classical music, and Hjörtur likes jazz a lot, and Högni and Rebekka really like dance music.
I think we are constantly listening to new music, which I think is a good thing. On the other hand, there is such a lot of new
stuff coming out, that it’s easy to lose track.
Who are your influences in the music industry?
If one thinks about the industry itself, I think the bands and artists who have come from Iceland in the last 30 or so years are very influential, by showing that you can actually produce music in this tiny (well, not so tiny) island and release it and play it abroad.
Musically speaking, the influences are too many to mention, but it is definitely connected to the stuff we are listening to.
What has been the hardest part of being in the music industry for you?
I don’t think we find it hard. We chose this path for a living and we are very satisfied with our choice. Complaining doesn’t get you anywhere.
What was the last gig you played, what did you think of it?
We played the music we made for Days of Gray at RIFF (Reykjavik International Film Festival). We are about to release an album with the soundtrack, so it was quite pleasant to be able to play it for people after working on the album for quite some time.
It was beautiful, festive and lovely. The venue is one of Reykjavik’s prettiest venues, the oldest cinema in the city.
It was the home of the Icelandic Opera for many years. It is a magical hall.
What’s coming next for you?
We are going to France in October, just a short visit. We will be playin the les Boreales festival in Caen. In November we have the Iceland Airwaves festival in Reykjavik.
We want to start working on new material soon, and hopefully go abroad to get some fresh air and do what we love to do – play our music for as many as possible.