There’s something special going on in Iceland.
It could be the volcanoes, the pure, glacial waters, or the fact you have to sell organs on the black market to afford a beer, possibly leading to fewer liquid distractions, but despite the fact the place is only home to around 300,000 people, the island doesn’t half turn out some quality music.
“The man who owns the label came to my gig and offered me a deal. I said yes immediately, it was an easy decision.”/blockquote>
There’s Björk, of course, whose more than been doing her bit for her homeland (15million albums sold worldwide at last count), not to mention the phenomenal, Planet Earth-soundtracking Sigur Rós, indie-pop pixie Hafdis Huld, hip-hoppers Quarashi and electro boffins Múm.
Seabear, or Sindri Sigfússon, as his mother calls him, is the latest musician set to join the aforementioned artists in the Icelandic hall of fame. On first listen, forthcoming debut ‘The Ghost That Carried Us Away’ is a delicate, fragile collection of acoustic indie-pop gems, but only with repeated spins, particularly to songs like ‘Cat Piano’ and ‘Arms’, does the record’s true depth shine through – think Sufjan Stevens meets an unplugged Arcade Fire and you’ll be somewhere near the mark.
A relative newcomer to music, the 24-year-old only recently started playing guitar, and even then, it was just something to do to pass the time while recovering from a three-week stint in hospital. “I lived in London in 2004,” he says. “I was going to go to art school there, then all of a sudden I got really sick. So I had to go to hospital. I was working in a crappy coffeehouse chain, and I found out I was accidentally insured while I was off. I got £50 a day for being in hospital, so with that money I bought some recording equipment and an acoustic guitar. I then moved back to Iceland.”
“I’d never thought about being a musician before,” Sindri continues. “I wanted to try it because I thought it was something I could do. I had guitar lessons for two or three months, but I could never be bothered to learn other people’s songs, so I just made up my own. It was much more fun making them up.”
From there, he began writing and recording his own songs under the Seabear moniker (taken from an abbreviation his friends used, but he can’t remember exactly what), but before long he’d gathered a few old friends and people he knew from hometown Reykjavik to help him.
“I never thought, to begin with, that my music would get out of my bedroom, but I released an EP in 2004, then a German label called Tomlab released a 7” of me and Grizzly Bear. After that, they asked me to open one of their shows in Berlin. I really liked the bands they were putting on, so I said yes, but I’d never played live before.”
This night turned out to be even more fateful for Sindri – not only did it mark his first performance, it also led to him being signed to Morr records, and label he admits to being a fan of for some time.
“The man who owns the label came to my gig and offered me a deal. I said yes immediately, it was an easy decision.”
“We recorded the album some time ago – it took six months to sort the record deal out, then we made the album, and now we’ve waited six months before putting it out. I’m still very happy with it, though. Very happy.”