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DJ, Musician, Label Guy, Provocateur: Cracking Harry Knuckles

DJ, Musician, Label Guy, Provocateur: Cracking Harry Knuckles

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Published May 17, 2018

“I’m in a conceptual black metal band right now,” says Frímann Frímannsson, a.k.a. Harry Knuckles. “You’ve probably never seen us because we don’t play live, or make music. It’s just conceptual, just ideas, you know.”  He’s completely deadpan, but finally breaks down into a smirk, then laughs.

Conversations like this are pretty much the norm with Frímann. A noise musician, DJ, founder of the Skeleton Horse zine, and co-founder of Lady Boy Records, he’s both the funniest person and most prolific troll you’ll ever meet. Give him any topic and he’ll riff with thoughts that sound like seasoned bits of stand-up.

Catchy tin cans

Frímann started DJing as Harry Knuckles in 2010, and did his first live noise show at Eistnaflug’s “Mayhemisphere” only months later. “I had this tin can that I filled with coins and I had a mic that I connected to a distortion pedal and just shook the can,” he says. “Wow, saying I started playing in an abandoned herring factory in the East fjords of Iceland makes me sound very exotic, right?” He’s being facetious.

“Wow, saying I started playing in an abandoned herring factory in East Iceland makes me sound very exotic, right?”

But if you think tin can tunes are unusual, you’re still barely at the tip of the Harry Knuckles iceberg. Since his first gig, Mr. Knuckles has created soundscapes that take loops, samples, and beats, and morph them into something equally mind-blowing and mind-bending. His music seeps into his DJing, and vice versa, but despite his noise roots, Frímann’s sound is groovy, catchy, and completely unpredictable.

“I think noise is one of those things that it’s weird to listen to at home alone, but when it’s in a live session, it makes sense,” he says. “You can hear the vibrations and all of that stuff. My philosophy has always been to not cater or read people either when DJing or playing live. Most people have requests and it’s just some top 40 they could listen to at home.”

No keychains

Frímann’s affinity for weird art led him to start the Skeleton Horse zine in 2012 and co-found Lady Boy Records a year later. “It’s funny, ‘cause people are releasing albums every day, but then it’s just a link to a Soundcloud,” he says. “There’s something about the process of making something physical, and going to a store to buy it. I mean, what happens if you don’t have internet? What do you do then?” Again, facetious.

The Lady Boy label has kept up its dedication to the underground ever since. “We purposely don’t sell our stuff at Eymundsson or Mál og Menning,” Frímann says. “Have you been to these bookstores? They’re more like gift shops. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t go to a gift shop to find the new music.” He laughs. “I go to a record store where there are no keychains.”

But what’s next? Frímann’s reluctant to say. “If you have so many ideas and you tell someone, and get their reaction, then you just feel like you’ve already done it. You’re like “check,” and then you don’t even need to do it anymore. So I don’t like talking about that.” He stops and smirks, before changing his voice into what can only be compared to the cockiest morning radio host ever. “I guess you guys will just have to wait and see.”


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