Making Of An Artist: Úlfur Alexander Einarsson - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Making Of An Artist: Úlfur Alexander Einarsson

Making Of An Artist: Úlfur Alexander Einarsson

Published May 3, 2017

Úlfur Alexander Einarsson is the frontman of Oyama, and a member of Gangly and Útidúr. Here, he talks us through his formative artists and albums.

Bands I grew up with
I grew up with bands like Joy Division, Pixies, the Smiths, and Radiohead. They all had a big effect on me, since my parents listened to them a lot. They later became my favourite bands and probably shaped ideas in my head about how I think about music.

Blonde Redhead
Blonde Redhead was like a gateway drug for me into indie/weird music. I first heard “Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons” when I was sixteen, and me and my friends were just “Wait, what is this? Hold the phone. What’s going on here?”

My Bloody Valentine
MBV blew my teenage self’s mind. My friend told me at the time that they achieved their signature guitar sound by recording to tape and then heating the tape in the oven. I believed him, of course, and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I don’t anymore, though. I know now that they put the tapes in the toaster, not the oven.

Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel is one of those artists that makes me want to stop making music because I’ll never make anything as beautiful. I don’t know what it is exactly. It’s just this combination of his voice, melodies and weird lyrics that make me want to cry. Not about anything special, just being alive.

Dirty Projectors
I started listening to Dirty Projectors when he was still a solo project doing clangy orchestral guitar music. When ‘Rise Above’ came out—his reinterpretation of Black Flag’s album ‘Damaged’—it just blew my mind. The inventiveness of the guitars, time changes and vocal harmonies literally hurt my brain. ‘Rise Above’ and ‘Bitte Orca’ really split my head open.

Weeknd / Pharrell
Pharrell and Kanye West made me interested in pop music. I don’t listen to mainstream pop music a lot, but I love good pop songs. The Weeknd re-ignited my love for pop and RnB. I loved how all his songs were super bleak and dark, but really catchy. I can’t listen to too many in a row though—they’re so bleak, I just get depressed after a while.

Bedroom Recordings / Bradford Cox
I’ve always loved bedroom recordings—artists who record in their home, like Mount Eerie and Atlas Sound. I once read an interview with Bradford Cox where he talked about writing the songs that you wanted your favourite bands to write. Like, he made a song that sounded like a song he wanted Animal Collective to make, but then it took on a life of its own and became something new. This actually became the start of me making the songs that I wanted to make and the birth of Oyama, which was just me writing Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine songs, to begin with. And Gangly started with me just trying to write sexy Weeknd and FKA Twigs songs. I like working that way sometimes, it can lead to great creative experiences. But also sometimes plagiarism.

Read more Making of an Artist articles here.

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