Local indie band Supersport! recounts their latest release, writing about houses, and facing an identity crisis
A charming underground art-pop project is how you might describe Supersport!, an Icelandic band made up of members Bjarni Daníel Þorvaldsson, Þóra Birgit Bernódusdóttir, Hugi Kjartansson and Dagur Reykdal Halldórsson. Four years, two EPs, one Kraumur music award and a big publishing agreement later, the band is off to their second tour of Europe following their recent album release, Húsið Mitt.
Killed by bureaucracy
“Þóra and I had collaborated on a previous project which then went through some changes in 2019 and became Supersport!, with the addition of these two good men,” Bjarni explains, pointing to childhood friends Hugi and Dagur. Þóra adds that all four of them knew each other through the local music scene, especially via the post-dreifing collective. “Post-dreifing is an art collective which we founded at the beginning of 2018, a sort of mishmash of bands that had been doing stuff in their own respective corners,” explains Bjarni.
“We had all been struggling with the same problem, to find the appropriate space for what we were doing. That kind of space didn’t exist at the time. It was 2017 and hip-hop reigned supreme. That scene was huge. It took over everything in the local music scene whereas, at the same time, the big indie groups were all targeted for export and there was no actual local indie scene. So we thought, ‘OK, we’re just over 20 years old, we don’t know anything, we can’t do anything, it’s probably for the best that we help each other out and do things together.’”
Þóra adds that this project quickly grew and flourished. “We published lots of records, four compilation albums, organised a music festival in Borðeyri in North Iceland, a two week arts festival in 2020 in collaboration with the Reykjavik Arts Festival and set up a concert venue in Skerjafjörður for two years.”
Bjarni interrupts dramatically: “A venue that was taken from us. Killed by bureaucracy. It’s a very serious situation. There are no music venues in Reykjavik. It makes us very sad. The city of Reykjavík has to really make an effort and follow through with their projects. Icelanders are always boasting about being some sort of musical country. It’s about time to do something about the music venue situation.” So, are Supersport! the new Icelandic underground? “No,” says Bjarni. “I prefer using the term grassroots. It’s more inclusive and more descriptive.”
The nature of houses
Supersport!’s newest album, Húsið Mitt (My House), is regarded by Bjarni as a sort of a side quest from what they generally do. “It’s low key, raw,” he says. “The idea was to try to see what the four of us in one room could do. We’ve always loved that kind of music. We recorded it in five days at a summer cottage in Borgarfjörður under Mt. Grábrók,” he says.
“It was very imperfect and we used pillows and duvets to muffle sound,” Þóra adds.
Asked whether this venture allows the group to cite Icelandic nature as inspiration to international press, the band laughs. “That particular motif has become rather sad and tiring,” says Dagur. “But perhaps it’s cool to say we were inspired by the Icelandic summer house, which is an interesting concept.”
Bjarni adds that his utopian vision of recording in May was somewhat shattered when, instead of springtime sunshine, they got raging storms and a yellow weather warning. “It even came down with hail a few times. That’s as far as our inspiration from nature goes. We decided to leave the sounds of the building and the weather on the album. You can hear creaking noises, gusts of wind, the smattering of rain in the background. It’s all there,” he laughs.
“There’s literally some magic that happens when four friends sit together in a circle, play guitar and sing. It makes it easier to find what is true,” says Þóra. “We were definitely searching for the truth. Maybe not the big truth. Húsið Mitt is based on the ideas of both the summer house and contemplations about dreams. Sometimes [the dream] can be a basic thing, like the feeling of drinking coffee at your grandmother’s house. Sometimes it’s a nightmarish house.”
Questioned whether these ideas make the album Freudian in any way, Dagur replies, “Oh my god, Freud is so boring,” – adding that he has a degree in literature by way of explanation. “But yes, I suppose so, we were really immersed in this idea of how everything we do in life happens in a house. We sleep and dream, eat food, make coffee, give and receive love. The house is the centre” Dagur concludes.
Doing things on Supersport!’s terms
Hugy lets out a laugh when asked about Supersport!’s recent and upcoming gigs abroad. “We’re the most productive indie band in Iceland today,” he claims, before immediately backtracking. “Well, perhaps the second most productive next to Gróa. We love playing live and there are simply not enough venues to play in Reykjavík.”
In the spirit of DIY, Supersport! currently manages all their tour booking for themselves. Their next trip: Italy, with fellow Faroese musician Dania O. Tausen. Incidentally, the band just returned from London where they headlined a gig at the Shacklewell Arms organised by Alda Music, Iceland’s largest music publisher. Having recently closed a big deal with Alda, it raises the question whether signing with a label is an appropriate move for an indie band.
“No, not at all actually,” answers Bjarni. “It’s something that plunged us into a real identity crisis. It took over a year and a half for us to sign the contract because we were very hesitant. But it was a good deal which had to be considered. And we needed to pay the producer for our latest album which we’ve just recorded – another album that comes out next year. It’s all part of being able to support our work financially and meeting our goals,” says Bjarni, continuing: “If you had asked me that question two years ago, I would have told you to go fuck yourself. But that changed. We’re doing this on our own terms. As long as we do that, we’re in a good place.”
Follow Supersport!’s ventures on tour in Europe at @ssuper.ssport.
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