“It’s about infecting people with satanic music,” says Héðinn Finnsson, in a quiet, deadpan voice, with a neat grid of monochrome 7” records on the table in front of him. An almost inaudibly shy presence, he’s explaining the name of SMIT Records, a DIY micro-label that he’s been secretively running since 2016.
The label started almost by accident, when he put out some of his own music, made under the name Íbbagoggur. “We weren’t really a label when this came out,” he mutters. “It’s just me. Then, I designed the sleeve for SiGRÚN’s ‘Hringsjá’ EP. The two had a certain look, and so I decided to start a label.”
A kick in the butt
Releasing music by SiGRÚN was a logical next step. Her ‘Smitari’ EP is perhaps her most experimental material to date, featuring soft drones that dissolve into fractious noise. Other releases include an arresting instrumental EP by sóley—Héðinn’s partner and label helper—plus a thrillingly experimental EP by saxophonist Túmi Árnason, and the astoundingly accomplished ‘Wood/Work’ album by bassist Ingibjörg Turchi.
“It’s all experimental music,” says Héðinn. “It’s also a kick in the butt for people who were afraid to put out their music, like Ingibjörg and Túmi.” Continues Sóley: “All of those people are our friends—that’s the link. Björk Leifsdóttir is a singer who’s been my friend for many years, and this is her first release.”
The pains of being a wallflower
Sóley is helping to bring some visibility to the project by, for example, starting an Instagram account. “I’m trying to be label manager,” she smiles. “It’s easier when it’s not your project, in a way. Héðinn is not good at advertising what he does.”
Héðinn remains stoical about the pursuit of attention. “It doesn’t really matter, because we only do twenty copies of each record,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if people know right away. I’m fine with them selling over the course of a year.”
Héðinn has a degree in art and also does illustrations of other types. In fact, he’s about to host an exhibition of his new book.
“The book is about a ptarmigan,” he says. “It looks like a small person with a long nose. You get to to know the bird—it doesn’t find a mate and gets sad. Then it’s suddenly shot, plucked, skinned and cooked. It’s kind of a vegan book.” Héðinn grins, suddenly revealing a hidden sense of mischief. “The bird gets completely torn apart.”
A giant spit
The record sleeves of SMIT’s releases are also an expression of his art practise. The record sleeves are hand cut and glued, with vivid black and white designs on the cover. “The images are made on a copy machine,” says Héðinn. “This one is a bunch of flies I collected one summer. This one is a giant spit. The others are improvised imagery. I hope I’ll exhibit them one day.”
“I’m using it secretly as inspiration,” says Sóley. “I sent the girl who made my Airwaves dress a lot of photos, and she made a dress out of it.” She smiles lovingly at Héðinn. “He wakes up at 6 a.m. to draw, you know. He’s a gem that nobody knows of.”