While You Were Waiting: Kiriyama Family Are Finding Their Groove - The Reykjavik Grapevine

While You Were Waiting: Kiriyama Family Are Finding Their Groove

While You Were Waiting: Kiriyama Family Are Finding Their Groove

Published April 7, 2017

RX Beckett
Photos by
Art Bicnick

It can take anyone a little while to figure out who they are. Kiriyama Family have had four years, and some exits and entrances to the band—and also to their families—to start getting a sense of what kind of band they’re meant to be. Four years after the release of their self-titled debut album, they’re now ready to unveil what they are starting to become with their sophomore album ‘Waiting For…’

The album is a groovy set of glistening pop songs smeared in smooth retro synths. Whereas their first album was somewhat of a pastiche of genres, their musical intention has become much clearer. “On the first one, we were musically all over the place,” says Guðmundur Geir Jónsson, synth player, guitarist and bassist. “One song was like a pure pop song, one song was a rock song, and then an 80s pop song in between. Now we’re more focused. This one is a really groovy album.”

As with the subject matter, the addition of new band members has influenced their writing. “Personally, I feel we’ve grown so much. The sound obviously changed a lot with the female vocals coming in,” says frontman and multi-instrumentalist Karl M. Bjarnason, referring to the singer Hulda Katrín Kolbrúnardóttir joining the Kiriyama fold alongside synth player Bjarni Ævar Árnason. “The lyrics have changed because I had a kid so you start thinking about other stuff. More personal, maybe. Not just about girl problems. Well, relationship problems.”

Hulda Katrín came to the band after Kiriyama Family’s drummer and recording engineer, Bassi Ólafsson, heard her band Aragrúi practicing at the Pakkhúsið youth centre in Selfoss. “I was a huge fan of the band. It was…” Hulda Katrín trails off still seeming to reel a bit from the memory. “He just sent me a message on Facebook like: ‘Hey, would you like to come to practice with us?’ and I was like: ‘What the fuck! Did he really?’ I was so nervous at the first practice. I almost cried afterwards. But, you know, I kept it in. And the guys were cool.” Hulda Katrín’s powerhouse pop vocals add a markedly fresh direction to their overall sound, giving a heavy dose of 80s-era Heart to their amped-up Hall & Oates-reminiscent tunes.

Still, they aren’t convinced that they have quite hit the sound that the five of them are working towards. “I think the third album is going to be what we really sound like,” says Karl. “When we wrote this one Hulda and Bjarni were there for maybe half of it.” Hulda adds that when she joined, many of the songs were far enough along that she just added backing vocals. “If we can talk about the third album hypothetically,” says Guðmundur, “Hulda and Bjarni will have the opportunity to be a lot more involved. Everyone’s going to have input on that one.”

“Yeah. But this one is gonna be good,” says Karl, making the family laugh.

Follow Kiriyama Family on Facebook here.

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