Grapevine Music Awards 2019: Best Live Band - bagdad brothers - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Grapevine Music Awards 2019: Best Live Band – bagdad brothers

Grapevine Music Awards 2019: Best Live Band – bagdad brothers

Published January 7, 2019

Grayson Del Faro
Photos by
Magnús Andersen

They played their first show just over a year ago, and bagdad brothers have already been crowned the Grapevine’s Best Live Band. We sat down with the lead duo, Bjarni Daníel Þorvaldsson and Sigurpáll Viggó Snorrason after their Christmas show at IÐNÓ to talk pop songs, party vibes and which pants to perform in.

It’s all about the pop…

“The number one thing for us is the songs, the writing and structuring,” says Bjarni Daníel. Bagdad brothers’ sound stacks dreamy, hazy layers over simple melodies, with catchy and cutesy lyrics. A casual internet listener might find a charming chill in their bedroomy lo-fi quality, but it shouldn’t distract from the solid pop at its foundation. “So the songs are number one. But after that comes, ‘how can we have fun with these songs on stage, and also get people into that mindset with us?’”

… not about the pants

One way they manage that is by looking fun in coordinated outfits. “We try to,” Sigurpáll says, although he admits that the all-red-and-white extravaganza of their most recent show at IÐNÓ, complete with matching balloons, was a special occasion. “We try to get into character, into our comfort zone on stage and we have to be a little coordinated for that to happen.”

“I was going to wear this super tight white onesie onstage, but it was kind of problematic.”

Bjarni Daníel tells me that just performing in red t-shirts made him feel “too normal” to get into his groove. “I was going to wear this super tight white onesie [onstage at IÐNÓ], but it was kind of problematic,” he chuckles, explaining that he was talked out of it. (We’ll leave the specifics to the imagination.) “But it’s still honest; it’s still sincere,” he says of their performance, regardless of the pants. “We’re not faking anything that happens on stage. It’s all natural. But it’s nice to have something to stimulate that.”

From practice to party

Having just started improvising music together last year, they’ve covered a lot of ground in a short time. As Bjarni Daníel explains: “When we started out, it was kind of a joke… one of these nights we just had the idea of posting one of these phone recordings to Soundcloud. (“A two-hour-long ambient loop,” Sigurpáll interjects). When we thought about the name, we were like, ‘Hmmmm what about the most generic indie band name we could ever find?’ Sigupáll suggested ‘bagdad brothers’ and we just said, ‘okay!’”

“When we were making lo-fi ambient loops, we were having the exact same fun as we’re having now.”

Pants, jokes and names aside, they assure me that it has always been and will always be about the fun. “Back when we were making super lo-fi ambient loops, we were having the exact same fun as we’re having now, when we’re actually throwing a dance party at IÐNÓ,” Bjarni Daníel says. “It’s funny, but it doesn’t feel any different. It’s just that more people get to be involved now.”

Expect bagdad brothers’ upcoming EP and release concert in early February. After conquering Iceland, they’re currently gearing up for a 24-show tour of North America, so keep your eyes peeled for tour dates in the US and Canada in May and June.

Find out more about the 2019 music awards here.


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