Máni Orrasson is an intriguing Icelandic musician who, having long been based overseas, sometimes sails under the radar on his home turf. With an impressive new video streaming now, we decided to ask him a few questions ahead of his performances at Iceland Airwaves 2018.
Hey Máni! How’s life treating you? Where are you at this moment, and what are you up to? Hello Grapevine! Even though e-mail interviews allow me the freedom to lie and puff up my reality, I have to be honest. I’m in Berlin at my apartment eating noodles in my comfies.
You’re playing at Airwaves 2018. For the unacquainted, what should they expect for the show?
I’m very excited to play at Airwaves this year, mainly because this time around I’m playing new songs in a completely different set-up than I have in the past. I’ve been going through a lot of changes lately, but one thing that people should expect is a kick ass show. That’s a promise that I just won’t let down.
We understand you’re an Icelander who’s lived abroad most of your life. How did that come about?
When I was 3 years old, my parents saw a way out and moved to Spain. I didn’t have much of a say in the matter. I moved back and forth a few times in my childhood and feel very happy to have been able to enjoy and feel a part of both cultures. Moving back and forth so much definitely has left me with a weird sense of identity where I’m not exactly sure where I belong. I just call myself a European mutt.
Does this feel like a homecoming show, in a way?
Playing in Iceland always does, mainly because my family comes but also because it was in Iceland that I really got started in music. Playing Airwaves also kind of feels more like playing in a bubble. Between songs you’re speaking in English and you’re playing for people from all over. I especially find that now after playing at Airwaves three years in a row, I’ve started seeing many of the same people in the audience every year and that’s been really cool. It almost feels like I have a bigger tourist audience in Iceland than actual locals.
Have you any notable good, bad or plain weird Airwaves memories?
I first played at Airwaves when I was 17. I’ve kind of grown up with the festival. My funniest, most embarrassing Airwaves memory is from a couple of years ago when I saw Alex Cameron playing at Loft Hostel. I want to start of by saying that I love Alex and at this time I was obsessed with his first record ‘Jumping The Shark.’ Well, I was at Lebowski later that night when I saw him in the queue for the bathroom. I was SHAKIN. I worked up the courage to speak to him and asked him some questions about his music. Before I knew it, we were standing side to side at the urinals when I realised I couldn’t pee. Nothing. I pretended to pee while Alex did his business. It was the most awkward shit that had ever happened to me. When we walked out he said to me, “Well, I have to go now and speak to my associate.” That was it. Never saw him again. That’s the memory that pops up in my head when I can’t sleep.
Are you fond of any trends or artists in the Reykjavík scene?
The Icelandic music scene is fascinating. I’ve always felt a little intimidated but extremely intrigued by it. It’s a world of its own, a microcosm that reflects the state of music all around the world. Icelandic hip-hop has really carved a very strong identity for this generation of artists in the country.
Tell us about your new track and video.
“Picture I Recall” is about whether you can be perceived the same way by a stranger as by the person you feel the most comfortable with. Navigating the world involves portraying a character of sorts. A protective shield that guards you. In music, there’s a demand to portray a strong image of one who is open and ready to be vulnerable. This causes a questioning of identity. Am I who they want me to be? Am I an impostor? Is the character I portray a lie? The video came together really fast. I met my director Yannic Pöpperling a week before we shot it. Collaborating with him, my partner, and my manager David was such a great process. We wanted to create something stark. Something that would capture intimacy, longing and desperation. Working in this stylized setting allowed us to do that. I’m really proud of it.
Anything else coming up in the immediate future? Right now I’m focusing on finishing a new EP that will be released in the spring. Other than that I’m just trying to stay warm.
Any final messages or Airwaves tips for our readers?
For Airwaves, I recommend you just wander from place to place. There are so many great acts playing at this festival that you can’t be let down! See ya at the fest.
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