No Sleep for FM BelfastFor the past four years, Icelandic electropop group FM Belfast have been perfecting the art of reading an audience and connecting with it, using their steadily growing skills to hone a music that catches easily, yet runs deep; an art of performing that can—and usually does—induce unique and euphoric states in large crowds of people, or just in your headphones. It is harsh and technical, warm and embracing and organic, thoughtful and giddy and cool and inclusive.
Since unleashing their vibrant debut "How to make friends" the group has travelled the world, making friends, taking in experiences and sounds and the world and one another. And now they’ve funnelled it all into a new long player called “Don’t Want To Sleep”, a natural progression that retains its predecessor’s spirit and builds upon it while exploring new territories.
The songs retain the bouncy and joyful spirit of “How To Make Friends”, yet veer off into territories that the band have hitherto left unexplored. There are slow songs and introspective ones; calm, drifting meditations mixed with calls to arms and potential dancefloor workouts. And lots of fun, of course. Tracks like the beautiful “Noise” and “We Fall” depict serene dreamscapes that still burst with power and rhythm. The understated “Winter”, with its anxious bite and underlying warmth, captures the essence of the overpowering Icelandic winter in its suffocating embrace. “Vertigo” entices and enthrals, “American” bops, gallops and is impossible not to sing along to.
“Don’t Want To Sleep” is out on Morr Music (World) and Kimi Records (Iceland) in June. Interview with Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdottir and Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson.
Waheey, you have a new album! What can you tell us in one sentence about “Don’t Want To Sleep”?
It's like our first album's older brother.
Great news, older brothers are awesome. Can you expand on that a bit?
We are very much in the middle of it all so we aren't the best people to judge it. People that have listened to it say that it's a little bit more melancholic and a bit faster. We, on the other hand, do not have a clue. We wouldn't even be able to describe our older album successfully without using the words: older, bigger and with more meat. Like a chubby older brother with meat. Like a chubby older brother one would want to eat.
Was there some pressure on you after such a successful debut? Or does that 2nd album pressure thing not really happen in Iceland?
We only felt it because someone told us about the 2nd album myth. In the end, the worries are about other people's opinion of your work. It's very counterproductive to think about it so we try to avoid it as much as we can.
It seems a fitting title for a band known for their upbeat party-hearty attitude towards life -- is that what it's supposed to suggest?
That sounds like a good explanation and it's probably fitting for our live shows. But oh do we love our 6-8 hours of sleep every night. I guess the message is: "Don't sleep at our concert - if you do we will be angry." But it doesn't really matter if we are angry on stage because we would never show it anyway.
And yet - there are slow songs! What are they doing there if you don't want to sleep?
They are for your heart so you won't get a heart attack. There were also slow songs on the first album. People get the party idea in their head when they come to our concert. Maybe one of the slow songs on the new album will translate into a messy afterparty.
Who wrote the songs this time around?
The four of us. The Árnis, Örvar and Loa.
And which guests do you have on the record from your vast network of compadres?
Borko and Eiríkur Orri and Þórður Jör and more.
Was there a specific musical 'sound' you wanted to achieve this time, or did you just let it all flow?
We were going for the "new sound" and went on this trip to find it. Or on the other hand - nope, just the usual. Is that a cocky answer?
It is, but we like cocky people plus it was probably an annoying question so we'll leave it in. What's up next? Touring? Parties? Very Little Sleep?
We have a Scandinavia mini-tour next week -http://www.myspace.com/fmbelfast - . Then we have some summer festivals. Probably a few parties. Some sleep would be lovely though: like we said earlier we love our 6-8 hours of sleep. How can we otherwise make friends? Nobody wants to be friends with sleepy people.
True. Oh, before you all go to bed, can you tell us how the current Reykjavik music scene is looking?
It's looking good to us. A few weeks ago Reykjavík Music Mess took place. It was a very nice festival. The week after that we went to Aldrei fór ég Suður festival in the west. It's great. Lots of fish stew and free concerts. And then of course every other person is in a band. And if he isn't in a band he's a DJ so that must be good for the scene.