Members: Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson
Occupations: Producers, multi-instrumentalists
Current Release: Hugar's Rift is out January 21st 2022 via XXIM.
Recommendations: We want to recommend a local epic by the Icelandic composer Jón Leifs, Hekla op. 52. Even though he was around in the early 20th century we believe his works have, consciously or not, had an immense effect on the sound of Icelandic music ever since. You can truly feel the force of nature in his works.
Our second recommendation is to look into the works of Icelandic video art pioneer Steina Vasulka. We were fortunate to make the film score for a documentary about her life and her work is truly fascinating.
If you enjoyed this interview withHugar, visit the duo's official homepage. Or head over to their profiles on Instagram, Facebook, soundcloud, and twitter for recent updates, personal insights and much more music.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
We grew up in a small town in Iceland called Seltjarnarnes surrounded by the ocean and magnificent mountains. Growing up we played together in multiple different bands in many different forms.
Opportunity arose when we were able to borrow a friends recording studio in our hometown while he went away on tour. In that studio the band was born and we slowly started working on what eventually became our debut album. This friend of ours had a bunch of vintage gear and an API console and we slowly started to find our way towards the magic of making sounds with great equipment.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
Here in Iceland we have a great community of fellow musicians and artist who are all very supportive and helpful. You learn a lot working with others and get inspired by the magical creativity surrounding this island in the northern hemisphere.
When making our debut album we dived into the deep end and learnt a lot simply by doing. From that we were fortunate to get opportunities to travel and play music in different places around the world. All this has given us continued inspiration that flows into the music.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
Everything is connected. Your mind and your experiences have a great impact on creativity. One can imagine growing up in close proximity of the elements and the dynamic nature of Iceland having shaped our creative process.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
A big challenge for us in the beginning was to learn when something is fully developed. Nothing is ever really finished. Everything can be tweaked and changed forever. It is then, that you have to trust your instinct and let it guide you towards the point when the music is ready to be released to the world and start its own life and journey.
When you make this decision you are at the same time discarding all the other possible outcomes. This can make one sad and happy at the same time, a bittersweet symphony.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
We started out as a trombone player and a guitar player. When making our first album we started to learn about the endless possibilities when it comes to music making equipment. We started using all sorts of stuff, not necessarily knowing how to use it so we often got unexpected results but got sounds that we were familiar with from completely different sources inspiring the composing element of the creative process.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Coming from a generation with access to laptops, music making with software has never been as accessible. As our career has developed we have been introduced to the magical imperfection of the analog world.
These imperfections can expand the creative process and give you a new perspective inspiring exciting results.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
Living in Reykjavík we are constantly in close proximity to many great artists and collaborators. We have found the best way to communicate with them to be over a good warm cup of coffee. These sometimes unexpected encounters inspire the most when they are least expected.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
The schedules vary but you can always count on the fact that you will be in the warm hot tub in the local public swimming pool at some point during the day. There is no better way to clear your mind to get the creative flow going.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
When this project started it was not necessarily the intention to make an album and release it. With that came a certain lightness in the compositions.
However, when we decided to continue working and making our second album it came with a new set of challenges. We made countless versions but it never seemed to feel right. It took us a while but we finally managed to overcome these challenges and arrive at the destination.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Our creative process is all about turning coffee into music. The biggest distractions are when you run out of beans or the coffee machine is not working.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
The role of music is to enhance emotions and the artist's role is to channel these emotions.
In terms of our music, instrumental music has no lyrics and can therefore communicate all of its feelings to everyone, regardless of what language they speak, enabling them to make up their own stories on what the music is about. This can function as a powerful way to unite people.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
How the body reacts to music comes in different forms. In the creative process you can usually count on that if you get the chills you are usually on to something. It is the bodies way of telling you that you are on the right path.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Being an artist is all about drinking more coffee than the average person and hopefully turning it into art and inspiration.
All jokes aside, an artist communicates emotions through different mediums and is in a way a mirror of our society.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
The only thing we know for certain is that we are born and then we die. Music is what is in between.