Johnny Blaze & Hakki Brakes’s music collaboration presents an absurd but intimate fantasy world. Their month-old release ‘Vroom Vroom Vroom’—their first since December 2016—is a synthesizer-heavy concept album that tells a musical story about cars and being on the road. Upon closer inspection, it deals with philosophical issues—through their Icelandic lyrics—that concern most people. I interviewed them briefly via the information superhighway a.k.a. the infobahn a.k.a. the internet.
Johnny and Hakki’s near-obsession with car culture is apparent with song titles like “Sportbíll” [english: Sports Car] and “Hvalfjarðargöng” [english: Hvalfjörður Road Tunnel]. “This project exploded from our mutual interest in synthesizers and cars,” Hákon states.
“My first word was actually ‘Daihatsu’ and I’ve been obsessed with the unique charm of crappy cars ever since,” Johnny said. “The relationship between cars and humans is fascinating. We find ourselves driving them and being driven by them at the same time,” Hakki added.
‘Vroom Vroom Vroom’ is like a melancholic but hopeful midnight drive. It starts out with “Bensínljós” [English: Low Fuel Light]. “It’s the moment when you know you’re on your last drops but you don’t stop,” Hakki explained. The album concludes with “Bensínlaus” [English: Out Of Fuel].
“Being completely out of fuel is a good time to stop and think about how to keep going,” Hakki added. That pretty much sums up the philosophy of album. Likening cars to people.
Aside from the album’s intro and outro which are grand and downcast, the songs are powerful electronic soundscapes with Italo disco and 80s synth-pop influences accompanied by wide-eyed and frail male vocals. Their visuals are a mild post-internet psychedelia. An example is the auto shop inspired 360-degree music video for “WD-40” adorned with houseplants and WD-40 cans. “The beauty of simplicity is perhaps the cause,” finished Johnny, “and the visual form follows the function.”
Johnny Blaze & Hakki Brakes will perform at the Grapevine Grassroots concert on Tuesday, May 15th at Húrra alongside BSÍ, Coke Hore, KRÍA, Sakana, Stelpuróló and Umer Consumer. Purchase their new album ‘Vroom Vroom Vroom’ at jakkibromsar.bandcamp.com.