On a sunny, breezy late afternoon, bandmates Kristinn Arnar Sigurðsson and Atli Arnarson stroll calmly across the grassy Hagatorg roundabout towards the cement statue platform in its centre. Dressed in workers’ clothes and hand-painted sneakers, the pair are easy going and friendly, telling me that they’re there to build a stage for an event on Reykjavík’s annual Culture Night.
Complex set design
“We’re gonna build a stage shaped like our logo, which is four 3-D Ms connected on the corners, and we’re going to have a concert and there will be many visual artists too,” says Atli. “We like to have a pretty complex set design for our live shows, but that can be pretty hard when you’re playing festivals, so it’s great to be able to have as complex a setup as we want.”
Their Culture Night event, entitled MMMM á Menningarnótt, was only the pair’s second gig in their current format, their first was only a few weeks earlier at the LungA festival. Having met while studying at the Menntaskóli við Hamrahlíð college, Munstur originally formed as a four-piece indie rock band five years ago. Two members quit and, since then, Kristinn and Atli have been working on an album and studying art and sound engineering, respectively.
“It’s easier to do when it’s just two of us,” says Kristinn. “I think we have more freedom to discover things that we’re curious about. We always get crazy ideas and we want to just follow them.” Together the pair have become particularly focused on creating a strong visual element alongside their music, which is evident in their hyper-colourful and engaging music videos. They have particularly focussed on the theme of repetition.
“It’s kind of the connection between the human and mechanical things,” says Atli. “The name of the band means ‘pattern’ and I think it’s been interesting to us for a long time, the repetition of something.”
“We’re just always finding more and more ways to work with that concept of repetition, because it’s all around you,” Kristinn continues. “Sometimes humans are just doing the same thing over and over again. I think that’s not something humans should be doing in the future. Those are roles that will be replaced by mechanics.”
While working with this very open but clear concept and their strong visual sense, Munstur’s biggest hurdle now is translating their music from recording in a Grafarvogur garage to the live context.
“We’re more interested in doing unusual shows like playing outside somewhere or on a rooftop, rather than a regular venue,” says Kristinn, subconsciously wanting to subvert the pattern of the live concert. “It’s interesting to play where people are not expecting to see concerts or show visual art where people are not in the situation to see it. We find it interesting to interrupt people in their daily life, not to have it on some pedestal.”
Info: Check out Munstur at www.facebook.com/munsturband/