by Christopher Svymbersky
After Ryan Karazija’s brit-rock band, the Audrye Sessions, broke up in 2010, he pursued his long-time desire to move to Iceland. His experience of moving to a new place from his California home came to be a central theme in his new project Low Roar.
Low Roar’s 2011 self-titled full length was recorded on nothing more than a laptop in Ryan’s kitchen in Reykjavík, making it a very DIY effort. “People always ask, ‘what’s the genre?’” he says about to his new project. “It’s probably the most punk thing I’ve ever done.”
But Ryan’s new project isn’t punk in the way of aggressive riffs and snarky vocals. It’s punk in the sense that Ryan pulled this album together all on his own. Low Roar is an indie-rock effort portraying serene and soothing elements that were achieved through not only a DIY ethic, but also the opportunities and easy-to-network music scene of Reykjavík.
“You’d have a much harder time if you were moving to a place like San Francisco from somewhere else to find people to work with, or to play with, or to help out with or someone who knew somebody,” Ryan says. “Even if it was just looking for a rehearsal space, or someone to record with; here, it was so simple.”
The music scene of Reykjavík helped Ryan to feel comfortable, and readily able to find the resources he needed to make his work come to life.
“People here are a bit more grounded, in a sense. They’re making efforts because they want to, or because they like to create something; not because there’s an expectation that this is going to make them a lot of money. It’s just because they want to do it,” Ryan says. “They’re not doing this because this is going to get them out of the coffee shop. They’re just doing this because this is what they do for fun, and this is what they do for work.”
Ryan struggled along the way as well, a reason why he started producing his work independently. Looking for work, being low on money and simply being in an unfamiliar place were all factors that contributed to the sound of the album.
“To come here and try to find work when you don’t really speak the language; it can be pretty tough. At that point, I didn’t have very much money and I didn’t want to ask people for favors, like with recording and different things,” Ryan says. “So that’s why I resorted to just doing it with the program that was on my Mac, and trying to do everything on my own for free. I think that all kind of tied into it; that was a part of the sound of the record.”
Tonequake Records’ Low Roar managed to play an unofficial venue at Airwaves last year, but this year is on the official line-up and he’s currently working on his second album that he said would be much different than the first because he’s at a different point in his life compared to when he first moved to Iceland.
Low Roar’s Airwaves sets will be at Harpa Kaldalón on November 2 at 8:00pm and at 12 Tónar Record Store on November 3 at 5:00pm.