Electro—the hip hop-influenced, techno-adjacent dance music genre—is enjoying a major revival in clubs across the globe. One of the rising stars of this genre is Volruptus (real name Bjargmundur Ingi Kjartansson), whose modular-synth-heavy tracks are being played by major DJs in venues such as Berlin’s infamous Berghain.
Volruptus’ newest EP ‘Hessdalen’ is out on the label трип, run by Russian DJ and producer Nina Kraviz, one of techno’s leading figures. She’s taken a particular shine to Icelandic artists, having previously released music by Bjarki, Exos and the late Biogen. Kraviz has called ‘Hessdalen’ her favourite electro record of 2017.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve listened to everything from gabber to classical music,” says Bjargmundur. “Back in the day, house, hardcore, breakbeat, techno, and electro were all mixed up in the scene and that has started to happen again. I’m influenced by all of it.”
Climbing the fence
Bjargmundur has released on Bjarki’s bbbbbb label and his own Sweaty Records, but his big break came when friend Árni Skeng of the Plútó DJ collective played his track to Kraviz when she was in Iceland for her annual трип party. “Árni has done so much to get my music out there,” Bjargmundur says. “He played it for Nina in the car on the way to the party and she liked the ‘Hessdalen’ track. Then she played it at the party hours later! Árni kept telling me that Nina wanted to release it, which sounded too good to be true.”
Growing up in downtown Reykjavík, Bjargmundur’s interests included graffiti and skateboarding. “Hip hop was the first type of music I connected to,” he says. “When I started DJing, I was a hip hop guy in oversized jeans, scratching at home. I used to want to win the DMC World DJ Championship, even before I started making music.”
As a teenager he was introduced to electro through the local Robot Disco DJ crew and soon started sneaking into dance music events. “After a while, I got tired of listening to rappers telling me how cool they are,” he jokes. “I would go to Jacobsen early for Breakbeat nights, before the bouncer got to work. I’d climb the fence of the smoking area at Faktorý. I really found myself on the dance floor.”
Times Square UFO
The stage name Volruptus was developed slowly over time. “It’s real tricky to find an artist name,” Bjargmundur confesses. “I made up the word. People relate it to volcanic eruption and volume. And the word voluptuous! Which makes it a sexy and powerful name.”
A self-proclaimed ‘Trekkie’, many of Bjargmundur’s tracks refer to life in outer space. The music video for ‘Alien Transmissions’ features him dancing hypnotically in extraterrestrial make-up, and he has named recent tracks ‘Alien People’ and ‘Fermi Paradox.’
“The Fermi Paradox is an interesting theory,” Bjargmundur explains. “If the universe is this big and old and mankind is already close to discovering intergalactic travel—if we stay alive—then why hasn’t anyone dropped by to say hello? Why hasn’t a UFO landed in Times Square? Hessdalen is a valley in Norway, where they have unexplained lights in the sky. People there claim to have seen UFOs. I’d rather believe Norwegians when they say they saw a UFO than Americans!”
The ‘Hessdalen’ EP is available now.