For all those who think all Icelandic music has a twinkly, swooning kind of sound, the richness and variation of the local acts on display at Airwaves will come as something of a surprise. As well as metal, techno, pop, hip-hop, reggae, and pretty much anything else you’d care to imagine, Boogie Trouble are on a one-band mission to bring some disco to the dancefloors of Reykjavík. We caught up with the band’s singer Klara Arnalds as she prepares for the band’s first performance, at Lucky Records tonight (8pm, Thursday 29th Oct). “It kind of feels like a mixture between war and Christmas,” she says.
So, you guys are Reykjavík’s disco champions! Tell us about the abiding disco-love that led to the formation of the band…
I suppose it was a good meeting point for all of us – our bass player Ingibjörg and I had been obsessed with soul and funk for a long time, while Sindri (vocals and guitar, also member of Surf-Rock band Bárujárn) came from a different background but had a serious soft spot for pop music. We felt like the Reykjavík music scene was missing a bit of good old fun – at the time there were not so many live acts in town that you could just dance to on a Friday night. Disco turned out to be the perfect starting point for our sound as it takes all the great elements of the soul and funk movement, and adds the elements that laid the foundation for modern pop music.
Have you had any Icelandic disco fans who’ve been like “OMG you’re the band I’ve been waiting for!”
We made a few die-hards very happy, definitely. But honestly, it was a bit of a tough sell in the beginning. Disco seemed to have a bad reputation – like the only thing that people connected with disco was bad costume parties with afro wigs and awkward shoes. But then the music started and people were won over pretty easily. I think lots of people are closet disco fans. I mean, juicy bass lines, groovy guitar riffs and catchy melodies – what’s not to like? We also got lucky with Daft Punk (see what I did there!), teaming up with Nile Rodgers and making disco cool again.
How was it having disco legends Chic play in Reykjavík?
Awesome. The entire band went to the show, obviously. It was quite inspiring, these guys really know their stuff!
Tell us about the new track – you guys are big Britney fans?
To an extent, absolutely. I think Hit Me Baby One More Time was the first CD I ever bought as a teenager (but don’t tell anyone). More than anything we’re just huge fans of the song, it’s such a monumental pop track – one of these tracks that you’ll hear when you’re 80 and think “aaah, I remember being a teenager”.
You’ve chosen Icelandic language for most of your songs – is your band is mainly for the people of Reykjavík?
No way – it’s for anyone who’ll listen. Icelandic is our mother tongue, so it comes naturally to write the lyrics in Icelandic. The Icelandic language also has a reference to a very rich songwriting tradition that we like to tap into, that lends the songs a timeless quality. Like you could rearrange it to be a song of any genre, and it would still stand on its own. But for those who don’t understand the lyrics, we hope the melodies and compositions are more than enough to satisfy.
Where are you playing at Airwaves, and which venue has the biggest disco ball?
We’re playing on-venue at Hressó on Saturday night, but also at Kex, Loft Hostel, Hótel Borg, Lucky Records, Hlemmur Square and Bar 11. I’m not sure if any of them actually have a disco ball, but we have been known to bring our own if need be (we even took it on tour to the countryside a couple of times).
What’s next for Boogie Trouble?
We have an album in the pipes, due to be released early next year, and I think we might be dropping a single in the next few weeks. Other than that just staying inspired, making more music and hopefully making a few people smile in the process.
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