Bloodgroup are quite busy these days, what with a wedding in China and ceaseless international travel. Hallur and Janus sat down with Albumm for a lively chat.
What is Bloodgroup up to these days?
Hallur: We wrote an album last year called Tracing Echoes and and mainly supported it abroad, but we’ve been pretty chilled lately. Janus and ólafur Arnalds are making an album under the name Kiasmos and then we’re both playing in a band named Fura, and I´m with a band called Lily the Kid, and I´m also with Birta. We’ve been touring a lot with Birta, so Bloodgroup got laid by the wayside unintentionally. Bloodgroup has been a thing for nine years, and we´ve bee working really hard for the last four. We´ll be back in action when these other things start to calm down.
How many members are there in Bloodgroup:
Hallur: There’s me, Janus, Raggi and Sunna, but we’ve had a fifth member for like a year and a half, by the name of Þovaldur Þór (Doddi), who’s our drummer, and has played every show with us since 2013.
You’re very powerful in the live setting. Was that always the plan?
Hallur: Yeah, totally. We´ve always wanted to be a live band, all the way from the begining. We´ve much rather been playing the music than being in the studio making it, so it happened live much more. The latest album was really a studio album, but when it was ready we were all like ,“Wait a minute, how do we do this?”. But it all worked out really well.
Do you play abroad a lot?
Janus: In 2011, ’12 and ’13 we did. Then we toured a lot and we’e abroad really most of that time, but not as much this year, as we´ve been doing a lot of other projects. Taking a bit of a break from that has been really nice and doing something else and work with others, but when Bloodgroup gets back in action we´ll all be really freah and full of ideas.
What’s the funnest part about being in Bloodgroup?
Hallur: Playing live is fun.
Janus: Yeah, that’s a lot of fun, because it’s very open and we´ve never defined ourselves as a certain kind of band. All of our records are very different from each other. We just do what we feel like and what we think is fun.
Hallur: We went on Ebay and bought a lot of synthesizers, but none of us had ever played the piano, hehehe. I had only played the guitar and the drums, and Janus is a guitarist and a singer, and Raggi is a bassist. Then we just find a cool sound and record it, hahahaha. I listened to this album the other day and it had four different synthesizer leads going on at once. One would have been enough, but no, cram it all in there, hehehe. Then we made Dry Land, which is our second album, and Ólafur Arnalds worked a lot with us then. He did the arrangements for example, which he actually still does. There’s a lot of creative freedom, which is a lot of fun.
Which album was the most fun working on?
Hallur: The first album was a lot of fun to make because we were just playing around and we though all the ideas we had were terrific, hehehe. And all the songs on the album are totally different from each other and some of them don’t really work as songs, but we thought they were really cool, hehehe. I also had a lot of fun doing the new album because we were working at a terrific clip.
Janus: We´ve gained a lot of experience now. We’ve started working on it in the spring of 2012, and it was mixed during the fall. Dry Land took us about two years, and we didn’t want to do that again.
Janus: We’d already made one album where we really didn’t know what we were doing, but made it anyway. But then it was time for the second album, and then we were like “How do you male a real record?” hehehe.
Hallur: By the third record we were in good form and didn’t want to mull things over for too long.
Janus: We worked a lot faster because we were much more shore about what we were doing.
Who’s the biggest hot head in Bloodgroup?
Hallur: That’s definitely Raggi. He’s the only guy who’s almost thrown a promoter out the window, hehehe.
What’s your first musical recollection?
Hallur: There’s been a lot of music in my family. Mom played an instrument. but not at home. But I’ve always listened to music. I practically lived at the high school in Egilsstaðir when I was a kid. The first thing I can recollect was from when I was five and there was a Kukl concert at the high school. I was always riding a foam horse arounf the hallways and often had a flute and I remember lending the flute to Björk for the concert, which I thought was really remarkable. The concert hall at the high school hosted a ton of shows. Bubbi would perform and Megas, and just a lot of bands really, and I would always go. So you got it spoon fed. The music scene in the Egilstaðir high school was really vibrant and when I attended it my self I was in like six bands at the same time, hehehe. Then my brother Raggi was six years behind me and the our sister Lilja six years behind him and then we ended up together in Bloddgroup ten years ago.
Janus: I´ve always been into music, but I didn’t start playing it until I was eleven. but then it was the only thing I did. The funny thing was I joined a rock band and started making electronica at the same time. My friend and I started a band that was both a rock band and a electronic band, hehehe. We were really doing everything, but didn´t know a thing, and nobody in the Faroe Islands was doing anything, so you couldn’t ask anybody about the electronic music, because there was no electronic scene in the Faroe Islands. I remember once that Ghostdigital played in the Faroe Islands and I talked to Curver for a crazy long time and he told me about Ableton. After that things started happening. I was in every band. I was in a metal band, a jazz and a reggae band, all at once, hehehe. The reason I came to Iceland was that I was in a metal band and we toured Iceland for two weeks. Hallur: We saw them at Airwaves and we stole him fro the metal band.
Janus: Yeah, that wasn’t bad at all. The scene in Iceland is much bigger than the Faroese one. You can’t be just a musician in the Faroe Islands.
Has Bloodgroup ever played in the Faroe Islands?
Janus: Yeah, we’ve played the Faroe Islands twice. We performed at G Festival in the year 2009 and then we did a release gig for Dry Land in 2010.
Hallur: That was really fun, but we haven’t played there since, although we’d really like to play there again.
Do you listen to a lot of music besides your own?
Hallur: I´m far too lazy at that, but I´m trying to get my act together. I make my sister feed me music these days. It’s switched around. Back in the day I was always telling her what to listen to, but now it’s the other way around, hehehe.
Janus: There was a time when I just listened to music constantly, but then I got lazy at it for a few years, but now I´m a total addict and listen to music the whole day. There are some very exciting things going on, especially in electronica. I think music today is a lot of fun.
When can we expect a new Bloodgroup album?
Hallur: We plan to finish the record early next year, possibly in the spring of 2015, but we haven’t started working on it yet. But Janus and I have met ocasionally and made some songs bases, which hasn’t led anywhere further because we haven’t had the time, but we´re gonna make room for it at the end of the year or the begining of the next one.
Janus: The format of that album one doesn’t know, one doesn’t know whether to make CDs or something else. The times are changing. Maybe we´ll just make a couple of Eps, but bothing’s decided yet.
Do you have a favorite record?
Hallur: There are two records that iIcan always listen to. One of them is Silent Shout by The Knife and the other one is Curtains by John Frusciante.
Janus: It’s Kid A by radiohead. It’s rock music meshed with electronica, but in the end it’s just music and it doesn’t need to be classified. I really love The Dreaming by Kate Bush. It was a game changer.
If you were an instrument, which instrument would you be?
Hallur: Hahaha, I think being a grand piano would be awesome.
Janus: I’d probably be some good drum machine.
Hallur: I was actually thinking drum machine as well. But then you’d have to be hooked up with electricity. It’d be nice not to have to be hooked up to the electrical grid, hehehe.
Janus: That’s a really good point. I think I’d rather be totally sexy seventies Ludwig drum kit, hahaha.
Where do you see yourselves in ten years?
Janus: The apocalypse will long since have happened by then. I don’t wanna think that far ahead.
Hallur: I know where we’ll be in twelve years. Then Bloodgroup will be playing at my fiftieth birthday party, hehehe.
Janus: Your new Moog will be vintage by then, hehehe.
Any good tour stories?
Janus: We were in the US once performing at South by South West while Sunna was only eighteen, at least a lot younger than Hallur, hehehe. We felt like going to some shows, but she couldn’t get in anywhere. So our plan was that she’d tell the bouncers that she was the light tech and I just taught her what to say, like, “Hey, I´m the ligh technician, I have to fix the dimmer.” And that’s what she does, and it works like gangbusters, hehehe, and she got in everywhere!
Hallur: We were in China once at a huge hotel and we were walking down some hallway. We walked into some salon where a hundred people were at a wedding. We were thinking if we should do something and there was this catwalk stage and they were playing some Chinses music. My brother Raggi climbs on to that stage and there are some kids there and he politely shoved them aside and started dancing on top of that stage and nobody was any the wiser, hehehe. That dance was incredibly beautiful.
Janus: The way of off that stage and out of the salon was so long that it got really ambarrassing.
What do you have coming up?
Hallur: It’s Airwaves. We’re playing a hell of a lot with various acts.
Janus: I´m also performing with a girl named Guri Hansdóttir, but she’s played Airwaves four times under her own name and has released four records. We met some time last year at some party and she had these ten tracks and she asked me if I would be willing to check themout, which I did, and that has led to us making total pop music in Faroese. There is no music like it in the Faroe Islands, so when it was realeased it was a crazy hit.
Hallur: It’s the hot shit in the Faroe Islands.
Janus: Making this kind of unabashed pop music, as I´m a real pop fan at heart. All the singin is in Faroese., but we weren’t really shore about it. We thought we wouldn’t be able to perform outside of the Faroe Islands, but everybody can listen to it.
Hallur: I was touring as the sound guy for Eivör Pálsdóttir in Norway the other day and she had this one song that she’d translated into Norwegian and she always sang it in Norwegian. But after a couple shows she asked the audience if she should sing the song in Norwegian or Faroese, and everyone in the auditorium wanted to hear it in Faroese. Faroese is actually a beautiful language,
Janus: We can also say it’s Icelandic and everybody’s happy. Really cool, hehehe.
Hallur: There was period when Janus gave up on saying that he was Faroese, in foreign interviews and such.
Janus: Nobody knew anything about the Faroe Islands and I couldn’t be bothered to explain. I just said I was Icelandic. I´m not such a pround Faroese person at heart. I’m from the Faroe Islands, end of story.