Samaris

samaris

PHOTO BY TIMOTHÉE LAMBRECQ

Does Samaris mean something in Icelandic?

Doddy: No. It’s from comic book stories that Jófríður was reading. It actually means “songbird” in Turkish. We learned that afterwards. It’s cool! Somebody told us by email. First, we just thought there was no Icelandic translation.  For the very first month, I had a hard time remembering it… Samaris…Marmaris…

How did you guys meet?

Áslaug: Me and Doddy have known each other since we were like 6 or 7 at school. And then me and Jófríður got together in high school when we were 13 or 14. And then we all went to the same high school when we were 16 and then we decided just to do something. That was in Rekjavik.

What’s the music scene like in Rekjavik?

Doddy: It’s really good, very vibrant. It keeps getting better and bands are getting more opportunities to play.

Áslaug : I was looking at the line up of the summer festivals in Iceland, there’s so many names that I don’t know. There’s so many people that stayed inside rooms, then suddenly released a song and it’s a hit – it doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s just nice. It’s like you’ve been away for one year and you’re like ‘WHAT?’.

What music did you grow up with?

Jófríður: My mum was listening to the Cranberries at home, ABBA, Bob Marley and A-ha.

Doddy: Probably not with the best music. But I remember the first time I listened to Kraftwerk, I was pretty impressed and that has been a big influence for me. I remember I also stole of my brother’s Prodigy CDs.

And how did you get into music? Áslaug, you play clarinet obviously – were you classical trained?

Áslaug: I was classically trained. My mum put me in a music school, she was quite interested in instruments for me. And I’m still playing it and enjoying it. I sometimes miss playing the classical repertoire.

Jófríður: My mum used to play music as well, she was studying it when I was younger.

Doddy: I play a lot of instruments. I don’t really know them but I can figure it out. I’ve started annoying everybody at home trying to play the piano and pick up song. I had a guitar, a bass, an accordion, a bunch of stuff. I didn’t get really into it until I find a computer to make music with it. I started producing at 14, and I started producing well at, like, 17.

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PHOTO BY TIMOTHÉE LAMBRECQ

How do young people party and enjoy music in Reykjavik?

Áslaug: It’s pretty simple: you drink a lot and go to all the places downtown. Because downtown is so small, you just go there and meet everyone. And when you get older, the after-party scene is bigger. And in the summer it’s so bright, you’re up anyway and don’t want to go to sleep.

Doddy: Yes you have no sense of time.

Everybody knows Bjork, Olafur Arnalds etc… Are they a good representation of the Icelandic music scene or are they very separate from the underground scene in Iceland?

Jófríður: Some are really good at marketing, it doesn’t mean they are representative of our music scene. You have everything: pop music, trap music, house music, old-men music, you have everything. And the things that pop-up mostly depends on marketing, and how people present themselves abroad.

Áslaug: You always get the Icelandic music stamp if you’re from Iceland, and people sometimes have an idea of it before they’ve even listened.

Doddy: The underground scene is kind of growing now. Everybody is going out from their bedrooms to do stuff, there is always some nights on.

Áslaug: There is also a lot of radio shows organising nights downtown, and everybody goes to those. They also have good DJs playing. There is lots of crews as well, Doddy is part of that scene with his solo project. They are actually all our friends!

You won several music awards early on in your career – Músíktilraunir competition and the Kraumer award – how did that affect the band at that point in time?

Doddy: We’ve got so much attention. We had to do something more, release an album.

Jófríður: Otherwise it would have probably taken us longer.

If you listen to Silkidranger and then you listen to Black Lights, it’s clear your sound has really transformed since then. This album feels a lot more electronic and a bit darker maybe, a bit less dreamy – or maybe it’s more of a scary dream! Is it important to you to keep refreshing your sound? Did you ever feel any external pressure to progress or change for this album?

Doddy: Always, yes, otherwise it becomes boring. I think the idea was to push it in different ways and take our ideas further. And now it’s gone in a totally different direction, but still has some common elements and feeling

Jófríður: Maybe the difference between the album is become we mainly wrote it when we were at home, or in the studio, in a quiet space. We’re were also playing a lot more live, and surprised each other. I think the live sets influenced us a lot. I don’t know about the dark side though.. Maybe

You sing in English now. Was that a conscious decision?

Jófríður: Yes it was. We just wanted to try it as an experiment. We wanted to see what people would think and how would they react. You never can please anyone, but you shouldn’t try to!

Áslaug: People has been always talking about it, and we thought we could totally do it. 

You said in an interview a few years ago that you were inspired by Icelandic poetry. Is literature still something that plays into your lyrics?

Jófríður: Oh no. They are stories that have messages that we mutually agree on. It’s my job to tied them in the melodies, so it flows well. But I think it’s jutst stuff we were talking at the time.

Do you work very collaboratively or does one of you write the lyrics, one the melodies etc..?

Doddy: It’s changed a lot throughout the years.

Jófríður: We used to start more together from the core. We would start with nothing together and everyone would contribute in their own way. We did this to make the new album, but we didn’t really hit it in the same way as we used to. This time, we separated: Doddy was doing some sketches, then I would come afterwards with the lyrics, the chords and the lyrics, and then Áslaug would do the melody.

Jófríður, you said before that your lyrics aren’t personal at all?

Jófríður: There’s no leader in the band, and it would feel wrong saying ‘I’m the leader’ even though I’m using my voice, so I could be interpreted as the spokesperson for Samaris. The percentage that I contribute is so balanced.. so that’s the reason why. I have other outlets to talk about my personal stories, which are more solo stuff or other bands.

So do you have other bands?

Jófríður: I work with my sister in another band and I have a solo project and also sing in a group.

Do you think it’s important to be involved in several projects?

Jófríður: Well, it kind of just happens. You have free time, people want to collaborate and it just happens from there. You never know what you’ll do tomorrow.

Áslaug: I think this year we all went into different directions. Only Jófríður had her other band, but we used to only do Samaris. And then it happened that we started to do other things as well, and that’s why we’re all bringing new things to this new album. Our collaboration was totally different.

Doddy: I’m collaborating with my friends. I produce a lot. Right now I’m doing electro kind of dance music with a darker vibe. It’s totally different, and I really enjoy doing all kinds of stuff.

Is there a fear when you’re producing music about which project it’s going to be?

Doddy: First I don’t know, then some sounds come and I know it will be for Samaris, for example.

Áslaug: We hear what he’s done and we’re like “We want that one!”

Is there anything you do outside of music that is important to your lives?

[silence]

Doddy: Well, I don’t do much outside music! Oh yes, Star Trek.

Jófríður: You can’t write lyrics if you don’t read books. I feel like if I don’t read books, my lyrics become shit. It real helps. Instantly, when you pick-up a book and read, everything flows much easier.

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PHOTO BY TIMOTHÉE LAMBRECQ

Do you have a favourite book?

Áslaug: It’s a difficult question. You can’t just have one favourite book.

Doddy: I just read manuals ! “This is your brain on music” has been the only book I’ve been into for the last few years. It’s an amazing book, always keeps me inspired. It’s about how music tricks your brain. And they don’t really know why… it’s really inspiring. and really fun to know, when you’re producing, what’s going on in your brain.

A favourite artist?

Jófríður: I’d say Yoko Ono.

Áslaug: The first thing that came to my mind was Kim Kardashian. That’s my best inspiration now. Because how silly she is and how she is marketing it. She’s probably more of a social media artist.

What is your proudest moment as a band?

Jófríður: Probably when we finished the album.

Doddy: Not just proud, relieved

Áslaug: Yes, we were actually quite proud when this album came out because it was so difficult. We always found it was really fun to make music, but this one was very difficult, it took year, everyone was over the place, but in the end, it was ‘wow’.

What are your aspirations? Is there anywhere you would love to play or anyone you’d like to work with?

Jófríður: It would be great to do something with dance. Get a choreographer.

Áslaug: I always wanted to do a beautiful music piece for theatre or film. Something interesting, something bigger.

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INTERVIEW BY: Cicely Delaney and Céline Vignes

PHOTOS BY TIMOTHÉE LAMBRECQ:  http://www.timothee-lambrecq.com