If you’re the kind of person who keeps an eye on the Icelandic music scene, you will know that the social web of inter-band friendships and relationships here is often incredibly tangled and layered, with people taking part in various bands and side projects all over the shop. And with Mr. Silla, you have the perfect embodiment of the fun aspects of Iceland’s collaborative music culture, with a band containing members who perform, or have performed, with the likes of Seabear, Kimono, Botnleðja, Amiina and Múm. In terms of musical pedigree, you’re looking at the cream of the crop here.
Mr. Silla started as the solo project of Múm vocalist Sigurlaug Gisladóttir, who went on to form the duo Mr. Silla & Mongoose with Magnús Birkir Skarphéðinsson, who would later become a member of local electronic act Quadruplos (We totally recommend you check out Mr Silla & Mongoose’s album, ‘Foxbite’).
And there Mr. Silla remained until a couple of years ago, when Sigurlaug roped in some of her close friends, whereupon Mr Silla morphed into the current line up we now see and hear – a tight, full-on rocking band that we personally guarantee will make your Airwaves night!
We caught up with Sigurlaug to talk about the band, dangerous tour vans, and the possibility of having the Goonies reform in a biopic of their lives.
Well part of the motivation for putting together a band was that I started writing different songs that seemed to call for more loudness. I was also excited to see what would happen to these songs in the hands of friends. We now have three guitarists in Mr Silla – myself, Gylfi Blöndal, and Kristinn Gunnar Blöndal who also sings and plays keyboards, along with two bass players – Gunnar Örn Tynes, who also plays keyboards, and Halldór Ragnarsson – and one mighty drummer of Iceland, Magnús Trygvason Eliassen.
That certainly sounds like one beefy group! From the material we’ve heard so far of Mr Silla, we’re sensing some righteous classic alt-rock sounds going on there. What is currently blasting on your stereo right now?
Weirdly it’s a hard question to answer. I am so bad with names of things. I can’t get enough of all the Éthiopiques compilations though, and I also like other music. My friend Korka is playing me music from Glasser this very minute. It’s pretty good.
This year Mr Silla did a special tour around Iceland with Snorri Helgasson and cartoonist/comedian Hugleikur Dagsson. What were the highlights of that tour for you? Did it relive the glory days of Sálin Hans Jóns Míns traipsing the country on the Sveitaball circuit?
Sveitaball circuit? I don’t really know what that means! But it was glorious for us anyway. We crammed ourselves in a big monstertruck-worthy jeep, and were a little afraid for our lives most of the drive. I guess it added to the shows a little, but I’m so happy that I am still alive and have all my limbs so I can play music this very moment. The places we visited were all awesome and great in their own way. I have to say though that the Flatey trip totally blew our minds. That day was something extra special. I highly recommend it.
Mr Silla are currently working and producing their debut album. What’s the situation with that at the moment? Are you able to give us a date when we can see it in the shops?
This album has been taking its time getting to know itself a little better. I think it’s coming to terms with its existence bit by bit, but we haven’t decided on a date yet. Soon is my answer. Soon….
Soon… got that! You played at last year’s Airwaves where you were looking to provide bit of a show, including specially designed clothing that you wore on stage. How is Mr Silla going to build on that for this year’s airwaves?
I will be collaborating again with Guðrún Tara Sveinsdóttir’s super talent on this year’s show. She is the one that designed the overalls that I was wearing the last time we played. I am very excited about all of this. I think you gain a lot in the way of your performance by dressing it up or taking on an alter ego of sorts. It’s a little easier to open up and give it your all.
Apart from yourselves, who else should we advise travelling folk to see while they´re at the festival? Is there any advice you can give to first timers on what to do while in Iceland?
Swimming pools are the thing. You have a good time being there and it’s a great hangover cure for festival peeps. My favourite ones are Sundhöllin and Seltjarnarneslaug. During Airwaves, I like walking around and randomly seeing some niceness that I maybe didn’t know beforehand, but I am definitely going to see Apparat Organ Quartet. Also, I will be performing with Snorri Helgason on his shows and will also be having some fun with Cheek Mountain Thief on theirs.
Final question – If there was a biopic of Mr Silla made by Baltasar Kormákur, who would be best cast to play the band?
The best thing would be to reunite the cast of Goonies for this. It’s the only way.
Mr. Silla will be performing on Saturday, November 3, 00:20, at Harpa Kaldalón.