In these booming economic times, it seems that punk is seeing a beautiful revival in the Icelandic capital, and one of the most interesting acts on the scene is Hórmónar. I caught the band at Airwaves this year and I can say with a high degree of certainty that it was the best concert of the festival. The group is currently in the process of recording music and it could well be that next year will be the year of Hórmónar.
The band is made up of singer Brynhildur Karlsdóttir, guitarist Katrín Guðbjartsdóttir, bass player Urður Bergsdóttir, drummer Örn Gauti Jóhannsson and saxophone player Hjalti Torfason. They’re all 21 years old, apart from Brynhildur, who is 22. You could say that the band was a happy accident, as it came up as an idea shortly before the Icelandic Battle of the Bands, Músíktilraunir—which they subsequently won.
Row of coincidences
“It was a row of coincidences,” explains Katrín about the unlikely beginnings of Hórmónar. There is a sense in their minds that this is still a farfetched affair. “Every time we start a new song, I get doubtful and think, ‘Do we even know how to write songs?’” says Brynhildur. Örn adds, “Maybe this is all just a joke and people are pretending to like us. Are you going to reveal the gag in the article?”
As they all admit, “It’s just now that we’ve started to allow ourselves to think ‘We’re pretty good.’” They didn’t have much musical experience before picking up the instruments and founding the band, but what makes them such a strong unit is the clear sense of closeness between them. As Katrín says, “It’s not that we are trying to sound like a punk band, we just literally can’t sound like anything else.”
Sex starved women of the world unite!
Feminism is a big part of Hórmónar, with feminine energy booming from them at each concert. “I want a matriarchy. I want female energy,” says Brynhildur. “Our songs are usually like a female orgasm; there’s no one big explosion, but many high points,” says Brynhildur.
Their most powerful song is “Kynsvelt”—“Sex Starved,” in English—in which Brynhildur delivers a powerful anthem for all the sexually frustrated women of the world. Throughout the interview they talk about the problems of sexual abuse, and Katrín talks about how the recent debate about those issues has allowed her to open up about being a survivor. “It’s about time something is being done. Men have to take responsibility and take a stand against sexual violence,” says Örn, before adding half-jokingly, “I hate being a man.” Brynhildur laughs, interjecting, “Can we make that the headline?”
Fittingly for a powerful punk band, they talk at some length about capitalism and its problems. Hórmónar are an opinionated band who want to impact the world.
“Often when we are criticising something, we’re usually saying that the world’s problems are due to capitalism,” says Hjalti. “But we don’t know what should come instead, we are just being critical. The revolution usually eats it children.” Let’s all hope that the Hórmónar revolution doesn’t eat this kick ass band.
Read more about Icelandic music here.