The Iceland-Balkan ConnectionOrphic Oxtra is comprised of 13 charismatic and highly talented Icelandic musicians who write and perform their own enticing recipe of Balkan and klezmer-influenced orchestral dance music with a multitude of twists. These festive collaborators, all of whom are contributors to the song writing, are not musically confined to the Balkans as they also take turns challenging each other with fireworks displays of solos inspired by other cultures and types of music as well. The outcome is a rare marriage of the cerebral and the celebratory that captures mind, body and soul. As they prepare to release their eponymous debut album via Kimi Records, Iceland Music Export catch up with them for a chat...
When did the group form and under what circumstances?
It formed late in the fall of 2009. We were a few students in LHÍ that decieded that it would be fun to meet together and play balkan music for our own enjoyment.
Why balkan music?
Because we've never played Balkan music and we wanted to try to play something new. Balkan music is challenging and fun?
Any particular style of Balkan music?
No, and actually we don´t play "pure" Balkan music, we mix it with anything that comes to our minds.
Were there any predecessors of this kind of music in Iceland?
Yes, Stórsveit Nix Noltes and Strakovsky horo. Also Haukur Gröndal has done some really cool Balkan stuff.
Some of you are based or were born in Ísafjörður in the Westfjords, is that right? What goes on there?
Actually, only two of our current members are from Ísafjörður – our originial harmonica player is also from there. People have lots of sex there...
OK...Have you played at Aldrei fór ég suður?
We played there for the first time in the Easter of 2010. We really hope it's here to stay because we really would like to play there again.
What's the most difficult thing about being in a 13-piece Icelandic Balkan band?
Nothing particular about being a Balkan band. But there are a lot of us so it can be hard at times to travel and practice.
And the easiest or best thing?
We can play acoustically practically anywhere.
Have you ever played outside of Iceland?
No, but we intend to change that.
You're about to release your debut album, what can you tell us about that?
Our album was released here in Iceland on November the 1st 2010. It was a complicated process for us (not having made any albums before) but we managed to do it and we are very proud of it. Our release concert for the album will be at Faktorý at the 18th of December.
Will it be released outside of Iceland?
Hopefully we will be able to release it outside of Iceland sometime.
Are there any Xmas songs on it?
No, but we have arranged an Icelandic Christmas song in a Balkan version called "Það á að gefa börnum brauð" which we are going to play at our release concert.
Will you put together a tour to promote the album?
That's on our to do list. Hopefully we will be able to tour a little
bit next summer.
Name us three of the most unusual Iceland bands kicking it in 2010...:
Blæti, OjBarasta and Valdimar. They are also unusually awesome!
More information here:
Iceland Music Export (IMX)