A year in the life of Óbó
We asked Mr. Óli Björn Ólafsson, Óbó, to write us a letter and talk little bit about the year 2014 as it pertained to him, since it was kind of monumental in his life. Yup, the local legend-slash-player of instruments for many of your favourite Icelandic bands (there’s a Tumblr dedicated to him out there) finally managed to release a solo album, ‘Innhverfi’. And it’s pretty goddamn wonderful (see, for instance, the Straumur list of 2014’s best releases elsewhere in this issue).
In contrast to the year 2013, I mostly spent 2014 at home, in the land of ice and snow.
Early in the year, I decided to finally release the solo album I had been working on (on and off) for about eight years. Considering that it takes less than half an hour to listen to, and that it has only seven songs, I must ask myself: What took me so long? (Or rather: What was I thinking?)
Other projects included designing the soundscape for the inside of a stranded whale in a gigantic devised theatre show by the harbour called Fantastar, as part of the Reykjavík Arts Festival.
I felt privileged to play percussion in Valgeir Sigurðssons’s ”Wide Slumber” project alongside a cast of great musicians, also a part of the Reykjavík Arts Festival.
Then I made music for a hilarious comedy at Borgarleikhúsið. I had a lot of fun with that one.
My favourite concert was seeing Pekka Kuusisto play a mixed bag of Bach and Steve Reich in the great Midsomer Murders Festival at Harpa. When I grow up, I want to play like him. I was very impressed!
I finally managed to finish Mo Yan’s ‘Life And Death Are Wearing Me Out’, a wild and funny novel and my favourite book of the year (although it was published in 2006).
Fríkirkjan has been one of my favourite concert venues, ever since I saw Bill Callahan and Joanna Newsom perform there almost a decade ago. I was thus very excited to stage my album release concert there, as part of Iceland Airwaves. That huge altarpiece with JC on it was the perfect backdrop for my stuff.
Most of all, I was very glad to spend most of the year at home with my family, after having spent so much time abroad in the preceding ones. Some might even call that the comeback of the year.
Ólafur Björn Ólafsson is Musician