EuroSonic Noorderslag: FM Belfast

Iceland's madcap dance punks
FM-Belfast.jpg
What a cheerful lot!

FM Belfast is Árni, Lóa and Árni, and are usually framed by Örvar from múm and Unnsteinn from Retro Stefson. Apart from delirious pop gems in-the-making, these elfish types are also maths teachers, illustrators, running a bar in Reykjavík and apparently some of them are members of the Icelandic Eurovision song contest jury – (… ssssh!) I’ve been told this is a state secret… ClashMusic had a deliciously greasy kebab with them and took the chance to be part of their crazed world for a while.

How did you guys meet?

Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir: Very complicated! All of us met on different occasions. On busses, in schools, in hospitals in supermarkets and flea markets.
Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson: Yeah, Unnsteinn was my maths student.

How did you come up with this name? What does it mean?

LHH: It doesn’t mean anything. We didn’t read a book or something. It was originally for another project and then we went to Belfast, we liked it and kept the name for the band.
ÁRH: It grew in meaning by going to Belfast. Now it has more meaning than ever before!

You covered “Killing In The Name Of”? How did this come about?

ÁRH: A friend gave us the idea.
LHH: We is Dutch actually. It was a Dutch idea!

Were you following the UK charts battle before Christmas?

LHH: Yeah, we were.

What do you think about it?

Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason: It is good that people join forces to stop the bullshit.

What’s this whole idea of inviting everybody onstage?

ÖÞS: It just happens!
LHH: The security guards aren’t doing their jobs well!

Örvar, how does you being in múm interfere with FM Belfast?

ÖÞS: Well, when I don’t have time I just don’t play with FM Belfast, which is really sad.

How do you guys write music?

ÁRH: It’s me coming up with about 300 songs, but I have no way of knowing which good and which is bad, so the others are there to help me.

In what way is your music Icelandic?

LHH: Most of our ideas come from the Netherlands!
Árni Vilhjálmsson: It’s only the pronunciation!
LHH: Yeah, we pronounce the ‘r’ in Rage Against The Machine in an Icelandic way...

Is ‘Underwear’ a statement of being bored in Iceland?

ÁRH: Yeah.
LHH: Pretty much.
ÁRH: Although I also was inspired by the Goonies!

Tell us something about Iceland that most people don’t know?

ÁRH: We’re really bad and brutal at hockey.
LHH: We don’t pee on sharks, like The Lonely Planet says.
ÁV: We have a lesbian prime minister.

What’s the most memorable place you’ve ever been as a band?

ÁV: Macedonia.

Why?

ÁV: It felt like Southern Europe, but it was different.
LHH: There are old cars, Yugos and Trabants.
ÁV: The people were really nice and the coffee was great!

Any new Icelandic music tips?

ÁV: Nolo, Pedro Pilatus and Swords Of Chaos

Is there a tour in the pipeline?

ÁRH: We are going on tour in February-March and probably we’re coming to the UK too.

Words and photo by Vasilis Panagiotopoulos

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