In a packed Reykjavík alehouse two black-clad, masked figures appear onstage with a minimal setup of a computer, a keyboard, and a couple of mics. This equipment is accompanied by a tableau of props including knives, scissors and small animal figurines. The music that follows is raw, unruly and experimental, backed by a minimalistic but steady electronic beat. The pair occasionally flash secretive hand gestures, covering their eyes as they sing about killing, cutting, death and sorrow. They are Madonna + Child, a mysterious duo known for their alternative approach to music and performance.
The duo behind Madonna + Child insist on remaining anonymous. “Faces don’t matter,” they declare. “And they shouldn’t. We are both Madonna, and both Child.” When asked why they make music, they say: “Because why not?”
Music is Madonna + Child’s way of welcoming people into their world. Before each gig, they drink coffee together before collecting the things needed for the concert. “Everything is always lost,” they say. “We’re usually running around the city for hours before our gigs.” They mournfully reminisce about having to fetch windchimes in Breiðholt an hour before a soundcheck, and combing through Reykjavík for matching socks. “Nobody sold the socks we wanted,” they say, with a grin. “We ended up in a horrible place called Kringlan. Oh, the horror.”
A productive year
Madonna + Child had a noteworthy performance last January supporting Panos From Komodo at Rauða Ljónið, a tucked-away pub at the Eiðistorg mall. They wore vision-obscuring cat masks, and were joined by a cat dancer for “Kisulagið,” their kind-hearted ode to an undisciplined cat. “We kept bumping into the walls, each other and nearly everything else,” they smile. “It made it hard to play the keyboard.”
This offbeat approach has gained them a cult following. In July of last year, a cassette release of their debut album ‘All Around You’ quickly sold-out. After some Airwaves off-venues, they opened for Icelandic music legend Megas at a sold out show in December. “Half the people were very confused and didn’t understand what was going on, while the other seemed to like it,” they recall. Perhaps Megas himself received a similar reaction, back in the day.
Black hole future
The masked duo are planning to bolster their live performances by adding visuals to their setup. “We’re working on a choreographed dance, which we will reveal this year,” they eagerly announce.
Plans for a Japanese release of their debut album are in the works, and a new vinyl/cassette entitled ‘Sisters’ is due this summer on Lady Boy Records. On February 8th, they’ll play a concert at Húrra with a black hole theme, sharing the stage with Andi, dj. flugvél og geimskip, Harry Knuckles and Sveimur. “We’re also planning an album based on the German children’s book ‘Der Struwwelpeter’,” they say. “It demonstrates the disastrous consequences of misbehaviour to naughty children.”
With all these plans, and a song on the recent MYRKFÆLNI magazine compilation, it appears that Madonna + Child’s cult congregation is set to grow and grow.