Or the fine art of failing in a tragi-comical way according to PPBB
If there is one thing in Iceland that is certain, it is that word on the street spreads fast. The country is small, so if there is anything interesting happening, you hear about it at the speed of light. And the word on the street these days is about a new Icelandic movie called ‘BAND.’ Being very curious and a fan of movies about bands, I checked it out on a wet and cold Thursday night, only to be left with a torrent of questions running through my head.
What did I just see? Is it a documentary? A mockumentary?
Luckily, I wasn’t left in the dark for too long as, within 12 hours of the screening, I was sitting across the table from the stars of the movie, Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir, Saga Sigurðardóttir and Hrefnu Lind Lárusdóttir, Álfrún was also the director.
Are they real?
With the movie very fresh on my mind, I felt like I was meeting up with some fictional characters, as they came across exactly like in the movie. But, as I quickly learned, I can forget about anything being fictional. ‘BAND’ is, in fact, about these three friends trying to make it in the music world. Their music is an interesting mix of punk rock, artsy pop—“disaster vibes with glamour effect and poems in a glitter jumpsuit,” to quote the artists themselves. I kick off the conversation by asking them about how Post Performance Blues Band (or PPBB), came about.
Wrote a song about the make-up artist
“We were doing our master studies at the University of Art here in Iceland. We had guest teachers and while talking to them, we tell them that we are together in a band. It was more said as a joke, but they kind of believed us and gave us a chance to put on a performance,” Hrefna enthusiastically explained. “We made some beats and even had a make-up artist named Selma, who we made one song about, and a branding manager.”
“The idea we had was to emphasize the anti-climax that comes after you perform when you become all blue, we wanted to use that energy in our music.” I was immediately impressed and on board with their train of thought.
Opening for Hatari
The girls tell me that some people in the audience at their first performance invited PPBB to perform at random parties and then it kind of snowballed from there, getting gigs at bars and other venues.
Álfrún says the band has actually been quite active in those six years since forming on a whim. “We have been the opening act of shows with FM Belfast and Hatari [the notorious Icelandic Eurovision band that raised eyebrows and controversial flags in Israel]. We have been quite busy, but it has been a challenge to move over the threshold of getting paid at all and becoming more popular. There was always a group of people who came to our shows but not much more than that. We also don’t really know anything about the music industry and find it quite boring, to be honest!”
We were failing miserably
So why did they start documenting the process? Saga explains: “Álfrún really hit the nail on the head when she said that we were failing so miserably, that it was just tragically funny. So we had to document it!”
“It was like a self-help move, saying it was actually really ok to fail,” Saga continues. “There is a certain humour involved in that, which you see in the movie. It’s like an anti-hero story…we had a mission to make it within a year, which was, to be fair, not very likely. So we kind of expected it to be a failure and had agreed that it would be totally ok if it would be the situation.”
Álfrún emphasizes the importance of humour and that they have never taken themselves too seriously in this whole process.
Life is still chaotic
“We laugh a lot about what we are doing, even the mistakes we make. We wouldn’t want to be in a band if there was not all this positivity and joy of play. Our friendship exists because of the humour.” Saga adds that even though they have been in a band for all this time and made a movie now, their life has not changed much. “It’s still as chaotic and we are just struggling and doing the same hustle as before.”
Some serious connections are all you need
The girls agree that, even though the movie shows the reality of their failed mission to really make it, there is a lot they can take away from the experience. “Even though sometimes there were just seven people in the audience, there were always one or two who really connected with what we were trying to get across. So you could sense we were inspiring people and having influence. That makes you want to continue and you never know what the future holds. This friendship is strong and we might move more into other fields. We have, for example, performed in art galleries with good success. We want to continue to build on it and use this as an art form,” Hrefna says.
The dream is still alive
Álfrún, Hrefna and Saga are excited about what the future might hold for PPBB and they are enjoying the ride. They say that the reaction to the movie has been great, and they have been invited to present it at festivals across the world—and perform as well. It’s clear that the dream is still alive, which is truly inspiring.
See ‘BAND’ with English subtitles at Bíó Paradís.
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