One of the most ethereal faces of Iceland’s electronic music scene ironically hardly shows his face at all. That enigmatic figure, Mighty Bear a.k.a. Magnús Bjarni Gröndal, embodies both eerie darkness and sparkling glamor through extravagant cloaks and intricate masks, all underscored by ethereal beats and lyrics. All of this shines through in his newest EP ‘Tveir’.
Once upon a dream
Over five tracks, Mighty Bear takes his listeners on an emotional, dreamlike—and at times nightmarish–journey. A spiritual release with the flair of a personal dramatic soundtrack, ‘Tveir’ walks the line between comforting and uneasy. That said, there’s still something about the sound that’s universally accessible.
Adorned with a magnificently large set of sunglasses, Mighty Bear basks as he divulges the origins of the edgy and emotional EP. “For me, music is expressing myself, so I try to create a sound that only I can create,” the artist says. “Especially with the new EP. It’s very personal lyric-wise and I spent months creating these synth layers so that they emotionally come through as well as the lyrics and the vocals.”
The track “Yfir” is emblematic of this. The song pulls at your heartstrings with harrowing vocals and dramatic beats to simultaneously create a feeling of longing and a sense of inner strength.
“I started the EP when I was in the middle of a heartbreak, so that definitely shows through. I have always found comfort in sombre and melancholic things, so it was definitely a way for me to kind of get through the relationship and figure out who I was again,” Mighty Bear explains.
Behind the mask
A self-described fantasy and sci-fi fan, Mighty admits he finds deep inspiration—both consciously and subliminally—in those genres. Upon further inspection, the touch of artists like David Bowie are hard to miss. It’s not difficult to envision Mighty Bear as a side character in ‘Labyrinth’.
Mighty Bear built his aesthetic with the help of Iceland’s rising drag scene, which gave him the opportunity and encouragement to explore his glamorous side, with glittering gowns, full scale gold crowns and other ornate pieces. Starting out at drag shows, he was able, “to create the fantasy mythical character that is Mighty Bear.”
Later, Mighty Bear made intricate masks—a gentler alternative to drag make-up—his trademark symbol, furthering his mysterious and mystical persona. His fringy style and ever-growing collection of masks create an interplay between the visual and the audio. A mask, he emphasises, makes one focus on the sound, but his otherworldly appearance intertwines with the music, adding another dimension to it. As Mighty Bear, the artist says he had the opportunity to create something uniquely his own, without compromise and with the freedom to express every aspect of his personality—both his masculine and feminine sides.
“Fantasy fits [me] very well, because then I can be something that’s not male and not female,” he concludes. “I’m just being the purest expression of myself.”
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