Snorri Helgason first emerged as frontman of Icelandic pop band Sprengjuhöllin in 2006. When the band went on hiatus in 2009 he went solo, and has since carved out a reputation as one of Iceland’s foremost singer-songwriters. We caught up with him touring his latest album, “Autumn Skies,” for a few words on how it’s all going.
Hey Snorri. Your new album Autumn Skies came out recently, and seems to be getting a nice reception. How does it feel?
Fantastic. I’m very happy with the way the album turned out and it seems like people are getting it, which is great. Writing and recording this album was a really long and honestly quite a difficult process, so I am very happy that people are relating to what we are doing. I am so happy and grateful to be surrounded by these absolutely amazing musicians and wonderful people that make up the band that is Snorri Helgason.
The release party was at the lakeside Fríkirkjan. That sounds pretty special, did it go nicely?
It did. That venue has such amazing acoustics and it’s so beautiful – the atmosphere is always so nice and sort of festive there. I love it. The night of our show was a beautiful night with this lovely sunset over the pond and everything. AND Skúli Sverrisson and Óskar Guðjónsson played this amazing set at the beginning of the night. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was a perfect way to send off this album that took so much time and energy to make.
Airwaves must be a busy time of year for you, as it is for many Icelandic musicians – are you looking forward to it?
Yes of course! I love Airwaves. I love being busy and those are pretty much my busiest days of the year. I’m playing six shows this year. The most I ever played was 13. That was too much. But a lot of fun. And this years line-up is the best I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to see some of those shows. I hope I’ll have the time and energy to do so!
When was your first ever Airwaves, and how was it? Any fond memories?
I’ve played every festival since 2006. That first year I played with my former band, Sprengjuhöllin at Grand Rokk. I think that was like our 6th gig ever and we really didn’t know what we were doing. But we had lots of heart and energy and we were very drunk and in good spirits so people didn’t seem to mind that we didn’t know how to play our songs well. Which is cool. Sometimes that is all you need.
Which international bands on 2013 the lineup set your pulse racing?
Yo La Tengo. I love them and can’t wait to see them live. I think we are playing the same night as them at Silfurberg so I am hoping to get a little hand-shake action going on with the Hoboken lot. I also want to see this Canadian guy called Sean Nicholas Savage. I like his stuff.
Can you tip us on a new Icelandic artist that people should look out for?
Boogie Trouble are a fantastic disco party band. The best dude in Iceland is their drummer. His name is Siggi and he’s my room-mate. Nini Wilson are great band fronted by Árni of FM Belfast, my former guitar student and dear friend. I’ve only ever had two guitar students and they are both members of FM Belfast.
And is there an established veteran Icelandic band you think nobody should miss this year?
Hjaltalín. They are the best band in Iceland. Sorry all my other friends in all the other bands but Hjaltalín are just better than all of us. Let’s face it. Do they count as veterans? They certainly are established.
A lot international guests will be arriving in the city for the festival – let’s give them some advice on…
… A good daytime activity?
Go swimming at Sundhöllin, the downtown pool hall. I go there everyday and it’s the best.
… A recommended place for dinner?
Snaps is my favourite restaurant in town. Kex Hostel also have great food and a fantastic atmosphere.
… A good breakfast spot for the morning after?
Prikið. Their sloppy, greasy burgers will cure all hangovers.
Could you share some pieces of advice for all the Airwaves first-timers out there?
Remember to check out the off-venue schedule. It is packed full of good stuff and shows in these smaller places are often very very nice.
What’s next for you, are you off on tour?
Yes. I actually am on tour. I’m in upstate NY right now just about to head to Hudson to play a show there tonight. I played in Denver last weekend and I’m playing New York on Saturday. Then on sunday I leave the US to meet my band in Innsbruck in Austria to start a two week tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. From there I go to London to play to solo shows before returning to Iceland for Airwaves.
Where should people go to have a listen to your music?
You will find everything you need on my website.