With their warm, flowing, mellow sound, Bagdad Brothers are a unique addition to the ever-blossoming Reykjavík music scene. They describe themselves as a pop band, but when you listen to their first album (‘Jazz Kid’s Summer Project,’ released last autumn), you can hear for yourself that this is some catchy indie pop music, with an experimental twist. It brings back faded but colourful memories of chilled-out summer nights.
Bjarni and Sigurpáll have known each other since they were kids, and they’d been making music together for quite some time before the bagdad brothers project was born. From ambient improvisations to a post-rock/shoegaze band called Vára, they kept themselves busy with experimentation. Yet at some point, they decided that it was high time to explore new territories and bring some light and humour to their musical endeavours.
Pop classics and poetry
They noticed that the independent music scene in Reykjavík tends to be leaning to the darker side with its plethora of gloomy electronic artists and black metal bands, so they came up with an idea to offer some alternative to that murky, heavy current.
Inspired both by Icelandic pop music from the 70s (they are really fond of the legendary Magnús Eiríksson, as well as classic bands like Stuðmenn and Brunaliðið) and the more contemporary indie pop from Europe and the States, musically they switched to a more lightweight and upbeat approach, while keeping some of the intricacies and fuzziness of their previous projects present in the background.
Lyrically, the band take cues from Icelandic poetry, citing Ísak Harðarson and Gyrðir Elíasson as influences, as well as situations from their everyday life. The lyrics are sometimes bittersweet and full of nostalgia, sometimes funny and absurd plays on words.
Their newest song accompanied by a video (“malar í kassanum”) that tells an awkward love story, where two people feeling a mutual interest in each other don’t have the courage to show it and lose the chance for a happy ending. The video is an outcome of a collaboration between the band and a group of their friends—all somehow connected via a collective known as “post-dreifing.”
Power in collaboration
In fact, it’s impossible to talk about the band without mentioning “post-dreifing.” A recently formed non-profit creative community, the loosely-strung members work collaboratively across the fields of music and art. In March they released a compilation album named ‘Drullumall,’ which serves as an introduction. Alongside bagdad brothers, bands like GRÓA, Korter í flog and K.óla, to name a few, are also a part of it.
“The current music situation in Reykjavík is very promising,” says Bjarni. “We are always trying to push forward with our post-dreifing ideas, but it’s not about reaching new markets or selling things. Our main principle is to gain self-sufficiency for the whole group, so everyone can have an equal chance to create stuff if they enjoy that.”
The energy seems to be oscillating wildly, and the band has just recorded a new album. Hear it for yourself at the release party at Húrra on the 24th of May.