“For a Minor Reflection is a four-piece, made of two guys with indie tops, a man with glasses and a metalhead.”
When asked to describe his band, Kjartan Holm of Reykjavík post-rockers For a Minor Reflection certainly doesn’t swerve into abstract territory. Some might find this surprising given the band’s style of bombastic instrumental epics (belonging to a genre occupied by ham-fisted ideologues such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor et al.), but over here at Grapevine we just found it refreshing.
Indeed FAMR is an epic, swooning, mystic instrumental post-rock outfit that seems primed to be all Inspired By Iceland™ and elves and glaciers and stuff, that instead cites Blink 182, Coldplay and the joy of playing live as their main inspirations (rather than, say, “a waterfall” or “the sound of the sunrise” or whatever). This is cool.
We called up Kjartan to discuss his band’s sophomore LP, ‘Höldum í átt að óreiðu’ and their upcoming release show. After telling us about the band’s haircuts (he later went on to say that if the band members weren’t playing music, they would be running a hair salon), he tells us of their roots: “The band started as a hardcore duo, then transformed into an indie rock trio, after that a blues quartet and then finally an instrumental quartet with a fetish for noise.”
What inspired you to start making music? And what inspires you to continue making music?
What inspired me to start making music was probably Mark Hoppus, the bass player for Blink 182. I at least started to play bass because of him. We are still making music because it’s just natural. It’s all about feelings.
Who were some of your early heroes, and how did your tastes evolve? Who do you look up to in the present?
We all kind of drift apart when it comes to musical tastes. I always wanted to be—like before—Mark Hoppus from Blink 182. Guffi probably wanted to be Chris Martin from Coldplay, Elvar a member of [Icelandic ‘90s band] Ensími and Andri some eyeliner rock star. The funny thing is that it all still kind of applies to us today!
Tell us about your band name. What does it mean? Is it quoting something? What is a ‘minor reflection’?
This is a classic question. The name ‘For a Minor Reflection’ doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a combination of random words we put together. If I remember correctly it was Jói’s (the original drummer) idea. If you don’t like it, blame him.
Why is your band name in English and your album titles in Icelandic? It confuses us.
It’s in English because that way we would be famous more quickly (joke). As I said, it’s just a combination of random words that was put together. We’ve often thought about changing it into an Icelandic name, but it’s a bit too late for that I think. We name our songs in Icelandic because we just like it that way. I think in some way that you relate to them more if they’re in your language.
Why don’t you have a singer? Can none of you sing?
We’re experimenting with vocals now. We just haven’t given it a chance I guess. Guffi and I are in a choir and Elvar has learned some singing, so I guess we can sing a little. Not much though…
Tell us about your new album. Are you happy with it? Does it have a theme of sorts, or a message? What does the title mean?
Our new album was recorded in Sundlaugin (the Sigur Rós studio) with Scott Hackwith, who was the singer of Dig and has worked with the Ramones among others. We are really happy with it. It has more variety of instruments than the album before, and only one song crosses the ten-minute-bar, the rest are of a ‘typical’ length. The title ‘Höldum í átt að óreiðu’ would probably translate as ‘Head Towards Chaos’ and doesn’t mean anything really—it’s just a cool sentence.
You have been playing the world over for a while now. What are some of the more memorable shows you’ve done?
Probably some of the most memorable shows were of course when we supported Sigur Rós throughout Europe for almost a month. That was kind of mind blowing. But I will always remember when we played in Philadelphia and there was a very ugly couple having sex in a sofa right next to the stage. Nobody paid any attention to us, only to the ugly couple!
I understand you’re doing alright for yourselves. Are you making a living off your music yet? If not, how do you think you can accomplish that? Is it a goal?
We’ve been very lucky with opportunities to play abroad. We have made a little name for ourselves in some places in Europe and hopefully the States will soon follow, but we all still need to have day jobs. We’re only 21 years old; we’re just amateurs in this business. I think the only way to make a living of your music is just to work really hard. But of course luck has something to do with it, just like everything else.
For a Minor Reflection’s release show will go on at Iðnó on Saturday July 24. Kjartan tells us it’s going to be “a really cool show—lots of visuals, extra members on stage and the whole thing” and urges us all to check it out.
Review of album by Sindri Eldon & Florian Zhere.hlke