MUM are playing the Black Cat tonight (mainstage, while Bentzen ball is backstage) so we’re rerunning this sweet interview Christina did with them way back when.
With a recent line up change, a new record release and a world wind tour, it’s been a busy year for Icelandic darlings Múm.
Go Go Smear the Posion Ivy, their fourth album to date, is still awash with their whimsical sound of innocent longing while containing a few distinct changes: male vocals and new members. Original duo, Gunnar and Örvar, still at the core of the creative process are joined by five friends, who collectively bring us the signature Múm sound. Band members are involved in a plethora of side collaborations and solo projects including but not limited to Benni Hemm Hemm, FM Belfast, Singapore Sling, Mr. Silla and Mongoose…the list goes on. It’s a wonder they have time to produce such beautiful and inspiring music.
They recently had time to have a quick chat with me en route to DC.
BYT: Who am I speaking with?
Mum: My name is Örvar.
BYT: Great, I’m Christina
BYT: So you have been touring the US for a few weeks or a few days now?
Mum: Yes, something like that. Maybe one and a half weeks.
BYT: Alright and how has it been so far?
Mum: It’s been going pretty good.
BYT:What cities have you been to?
Mum: LA and then we were in San Francisco, then Portland, Seattle and then we played in Denver and last night we played in Lawrence , Kansas.
BYT:Wow, so what’s your experience of the US been? How have the audiences reacted to performances?
Mum: The audiences have been almost the same as in Europe. EXCEPT for one thing. There is one small difference. There is always one guy in the audience that says “I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES!” That’s the only difference between Europe and America.
BYT:Well, I guess that’s not too bad. You have to take that as a compliment.
Mum: Yeah, for sure.
BYT:Are there any stereotypically terrible things about the US that you have confirmed while being here?
Mum: No, nothing like that! I have been here many times before. If I were to say something about this tour it would be that the drive from Idaho, Utah and Wyoming was really beautiful.
BYT:Oh, I have never been there before; I hope to go one day
Mum: You should, you definitely should.
BYT:So, have you ever played in Washington, DC before?
Mum: Oh yeah, we have played their quite a few times. I actually live in Bethesda for a year when I was 8 years old.
BYT:Really? What were you doing here?
Mum: My parents were studying and I was going to Bethesda elementary.
BYT:So you have a connection with us! How cool! I’m sure a lot of people didn’t know that. What were your eight year old Bethesda memories like?
Mum: I had a hard time adapting to America. I only lived there one year, and you know, I got kind of fat and I didn’t really understand how to be a kid in America.
BYT:Yeah, it’s got to be hard when you are a kid and move to a completely foreign place. I had an Icelandic friend who moved to Virginia when he was five and he said the same thing. He didn’t understand much.
Mum: Well, I understood the other kids. Actually, the first words I learned in English were Chuck Norris. Those were the first words and it took a long way to get that.
BYT:Yeah after Chuck Norris, there is only so much you can learn.
So now on tour, what are some of the things that are necessary, that you definitely bring with you, that you can’t live without.
Mum: Well, Most of all it’s the instruments. They take up most of the space. But clean socks are important. I didn’t bring enough clean socks, so I had to go buy some. Necessary items? Hmm, I actually have a small pack with all my crayons and coloring things. But I left them in Colorado.
BYT:What? So no crayons?!
Mum: Yeah, which is really bad!
BYT:Can you make a stop somewhere and buy some?
Mum: No, I have to get this set! I hope I can track them down, we are doing that right now.
BYT:That’s too bad. Is there anything you miss about home while on tour?
Mum: uhh yeah…My wife.
BYT: That makes sense. What about the venues you have performed in? Anything unusual?
Mum: We have been playing really nice venues within America. Probably the most unusual will be the DC one. I guess it’s a synagogue, isn’t it? We have never played at a Synagogue before. We have played many a church but never a synagogue. And I think it’s a very good idea, they should be encouraged. We are really looking forward to it.
BYT:I have been to Iceland a few times but, I went to Iceland Airwaves for the first time last month and was very impressed. What do you think of the festival?
Mum: It’s a good festival .Well; I mean we were playing for the first time this year because we have kind of always been a bit wary of it since it’s a corporate funded festival. The business and corporate side of the festival is a bit…slimy in some ways. The music festival itself is really, really nice. The bands and the actual happenings are great.
BYT:It felt like the whole city transforms into a musical haven.
Mum: Yes, everyone goes really crazy. You see people running up and down the streets. Going to a practice session somewhere or an off venue show or some other music place. It’s really enjoyable.
BYT:Did you have a chance to see any performances? Were there any memorable ones?
Mum: No, I didn’t see any! I was playing so much. I played about ten concerts in one weekend, so I barely had time. I didn’t see anything else.
BYT:Can you suggest some music that we have never heard of but we should look out for? Interesting artists?
Mum: Sure, we are touring with Tom Brosseau. He has are really beautiful voice and he sings really beautiful songs. Also an Icelandic band called Seabear is really nice. And a band called FM Belfast…
BYT:Oh I saw them at airwaves!
Mum: Then you Saw me! I was singing with them. I was the tall guy with the shorts. Where did you see us?
BYT:Um, it was at one of the main venues in the evening.
Mum: We had the cowbell player. I was wearing shorts and singing in a really high pitch! That was me!
BYT:That’s cool! So now I have seen you without even knowing it. It was a really neat show, I enjoyed it.
Mum: Yes! It was my most favourite show of the weekend.
BYT:So now some more typical questions…
Mum: Biblical?? Did you say biblical??
BYT:HA! No, I wish. Just typical…With the success of various Icelandic artists including yourselves and documentaries like “Screaming Masterpiece” or “Heima”, there has been a general buzz. Around Icelandic music, perhaps you have been asked this several times, but why do you think there is such a thriving music scene in a relatively small country?
Mum: I have no idea…
BYT:Well, some have said the small size fosters a creative community or that the darkness makes people want to do more creative things..
Mum:: Well, people say a lot of things. I mean it must be something but I have no new light to shed on this issue.
BYT:To me, your music has a sense of nostalgia and childlike innocence to it. Would you agree with this? Are you aiming for this feeling?
Mum: No, we are not aiming for that but it just happens. I mean there is a playful quality to the music and there is tickling of the subconscious that happens in the music. I think that’s what people are referring to. The music somehow pokes and connects with things that don’t always come up… I think that’s true, so yeah I agree with that. That’s what I feel myself when I listen to it
BYT:re there any artists that you want to collaborate with in the future?
Mum: I was just asking Tom if he would sing with us in one of the shows, he´s touring with us right now. There is a band called Our Brother the Native. Who knows, we were talking about that the other day that we may collaborate with them. So that’s promising.
BYT:If your life could have a soundtrack what album would it be?
Mum: Appetite for Destruction by Guns N Roses. Why not?
BYT:That’s a great album! Ok now I have to ask some very serious Icelandic questions.
Mum: Ok go for it, I am excited…
BYT:What is your opinion about elves?
Mum: I met one once. He was kind of nice but his demeanour was irritating toward me, End of the discussion. That’s my elf story.
BYT: Ok, I kind of had to ask. I was overwhelmed by elf merchandise when I came over.
Mum: Ohh, of course.
BYT:So I heard that in Iceland you don’t have one Santa Claus by 13 “Yule Lads” who are all quite mischievous. So who is your favorite one? I think mine is the one who steals yogurt.
Mum: Oh yeah! That’s a good one! Sometimes I need to play one of these guys around Christmas time and because I have really long legs, I usually play the one called sticky legs, who can’t bend his knees. So he walks around all kind of retarded. Also, I think he steals cheese or something (speaking Icelandic to other Mum people for verification)….yeah he just has the legs, not too much, no awesome powers
BYT:Well that’s not as exciting as the yogurt stealing one!
Mum: No, but you know, you have to let him be with the others.
BYT:Alright last question. What’s your favourite song to perform? And why?
Mum: I would say Al by Paul Simon. Well we have only played it once. Last night, in Lawrence and it was just… wow, so much fun.
BYT: Do you think you will play it again then?
Mum: Who knows? I would like to again, I’m not sure what will happen.
BYT:Thank you so much! I know you have really busy schedule and all.
Mum: No, thank you! It was a really nice interview. Enjoy the show!