In December of 2014, a song called “Fuck With Someone Else” hit the internet. The track was a glacially paced slice of R&B electro-pop, featuring a male and female voice teasing out the title statement over hushed synths and the gentle interruption of drum machines. Not much was known about the band, reported to be a trio, reported to be Icelandic, and (as the accompanying video would suggest) confirmed to be in cahoots with a talented visual artist.
But let’s be honest—the Reykjavík scene is many things, but it’s certainly not big enough to hide in. For long, anyway. Gangly was quickly unmasked as Jófríður Ákadóttir (Samaris/Pascal Pinon), Sindri Már Sigfússon (Sin Fang), and Úlfur Alexander Einarsson (Oyama). When it comes to the mysterious matter of the masked band, Sindri offers the equivalent of a verbal shrug. Sure, it was fun as an established musician to present music without any preconceived notions attached, but he certainly never expected the ruse to last.
“That was never a planed out thing. It was more of a joke,” he says. “I remember when we put the song online, I got a bunch of messages asking me what this was from my friends who obviously recognized my voice. Me and Jófríður—there wasn’t really a question who was doing this.”
Well, almost no question. Having never sang in falsetto, it was a while before Úlfur was unmasked as their third member.
“Úlfur, no one knew that he was in the band,” Sindri continues, laughing at the memory. “He would be at parties where people were talking about the song, biting his tongue and sending me text messages. That also why we kept it a secret— we thought it was so funny.”
Sindri also brushes off the idea of the “supergroup” as something special. After all, he notes, a weekend never goes by without some kind of band being formed in a Reykjavik bar. Gangly’s first single (and their only one to date) got its start when Úlfur approached Sindri about producing a track that didn’t quite fit in with his main band’s vibe. A friend of Úlfur, thanks in no small part to Reykjavík’s heavily interconnected music scene, Sindri agreed.
On the suggestion of Sindri’s girlfriend, who noted that “Fuck With Someone Else” needed “some feminine energy,” Jófríður was added into the mix shortly after. Sindri had known her since she was thirteen, when he invited her band Pascal Pinon to open for him. The pair toured Europe together, and even wrote and performed a collaborative song for British blog The Line of Best Fit. Having just tapped her for vocal contributions to the upcoming Sin Fang album, Sindri was impressed with her fearless musical spirit, and the speed she’d come up with contributing parts in the studio. The trio meshed, and began fleshing out new ideas together.
Too many cooks?
While this situation reeks of having too many cooks in the kitchen, Sindri insists that’s hardly the case. The three artists’ personalities and creativity energy simply mesh, he says. Why overthink it?
“After we made the first song we figured out what kind of aesthetic we want to work with,” he explains. “When you’re starting a new project, it’s like just finding the tone. When you do land on something, it makes it easier to write into that world. We wanted to do music that we were listening to, R&B and electronic stuff… But we haven’t really talked or analyzed anything. I think it’s often like that. If something is clicking and working, people don’t really analyze it into the ground… We’re all used to having a leading role in our bands. Which is often the case with bands, there’s one person who’s kind of dragging everything along. It’s kind of funny for us three to be working together. But it works well.”
But there’s still the matter of that name. (“I think that the hardest thing about being in a band is to come up with a name,” he moans.) It’s a tribute, says Sindri, not to their slick sound, but rather the emotional content of their first song, which sits comfortably halfway between sensual and emotional confusion.
“I was definitely a lost teenager,” he reflects. “It was the inspiration for my last Sing Fang album, my teenage life. It was a good well to dive into for inspiration. I was quite lost, a lost young man. I quit school. I dropped out and started working manual labor jobs—laying pavement and digging holes and stuff. I was tired of school. I never really liked school that much. I was tired when I was eighteen or something. I just thought I’d been going to school for long enough and hating it. My life was mine, and I didn’t want to go to school anymore.”
But it’s not as if Gangly will be tapping into that idea of unfettered freedom. True to their name, their interest is the dark, confusing, and emotional growing pains that we all had to trudge through at one point or another.
“I think that people romanticise the idea that when you’re that young you have all your whole life ahead of you,” Sindri continues, philosophically. “You can basically do anything. But if you think back to the time, that’s what you’re freaking out about. Who am I? What am I going to do with my life?”
He laughs as he considers all of this. “I’m glad that I did that and didn’t carry on with studying things I didn’t like.”
Gangly performs on Friday 19th in Sónar Club at 19:30
Who Are GANGLY And Why Are They So Great?
Earlier today, long-time Grapevine contributors Straumur premiered a song/music video by a new, apparently “local” band that calls itself GANGLY. Now, this in itself wouldn’t be that interesting (lord knows there are plenty of bands out there making songs and videos), except for the fact that both song and video are fucking S T U N N I N G ! Here, see and hear for yourself
Posted February 12, 2016