I’ve never been to Iceland, but it seems really great. Idyllic, almost. And if there are more bands like the dream pop outfit Oyama out there, then sign me up for citizenship. Hailing from Reykjavík, the quintet is readying their new album, their first new music since 2017’s Coolboy, which was released on 12 Tonar / Topshelf Records.
Today, the band is previewing the as-yet-untitled album with a brand new video for “Spare Room,” in which the band’s drummer, Rúnar Örn Marinósson, is stuck inside on a winter day, believing he is transforming into a house cat. Very chill. To celebrate the new release, Úlfur Einarsson and Júlía Hermannsdóttir sat down to talk Fever Ray, basketball shorts with pockets, and Keanu Reeves in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Úlfur Einarsson: Sleepy, fuzzy, warm, blue.
Júlía Hermannsdóttir: Loud but also soft.
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
ÚE: Good songs and good vibes.
JH: As good people who made good quality music.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
JH: I’d been wanting to visit Tokyo since I was a kid, and being able to go there to perform was a dream come true.
ÚE: Já, Tokyo was pretty magical.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
ÚE: Not sure there is one person that has been the most inspiration. But Kevin Shields’ spirit tends to have a recurrent presence in our work.
JH: My big sister who was very generous with her record collection.
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
ÚE: At home, making homemade tacos.
JH: At Mt. Sinai hospital when I was allowed to have a bowl of Rice Krispies with milk after I had to have a bunch of my guts removed and had been surviving on just IV nutrition and Food Network visuals for a couple of months.
What album do you know every word to?
ÚE: I’m pretty sure I could sing pretty accurately along to Surfer Rosa.
JH: Probably Fever Ray by Fever Ray
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
ÚE: Hard to pick best concert ever, but one that really impacted me was seeing Sonic Youth in Iceland when I was 18.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
JH: Sneakers, pants, and a T-shirt is a pretty solid and foolproof choice.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
JH: “The Boys Are Back In Town” is the first song that comes to mind, although my memories are mainly of Kári constantly singing it rather than it being played.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
JH: ‘Do basketball shorts have pockets’ – I was just wondering.
ÚE: How to spell “presence” – It’s not “precense” btw.
What album makes for the perfect gift?
ÚE: Any Kraftwerk album.
JH: Computer World by Kraftwerk.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
ÚE: A nice hotel.
JH: A very kind doctor in Tokyo let [bandmate] Kári [Einarsson] and I crash at his apartment, in a ‘salaryman’ neighborhood where the apartments are mainly designed as places for office workers to crash when they’re too tired to make it back to their primary homes. The apartment was so tiny that there was sort of only room for one of us to stand on the floor at a time, but I also kind of wanted to live there forever.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
ÚE: My first tattoo is of my cat Tobbi. I just always wanted a cat tattoo since cats are the best.
JH: I don’t have any tattoos although a surprising amount of people assume that I do. I enjoy giving off such strong tattoo-having vibes.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
ÚE: TV On The Radio.
JH: Most recently, Grimes.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
JH: It is entirely impossible to rank life events like that so I’m just going to say that one time I was in the hospital in Reykjavík and I told Úlfur that I wanted to eat candy, and he then brought me candy pretty swiftly, and in that moment I definitely thought “this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me”.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
ÚE: Less multicolored suit jackets. They don’t fit you as well as you think. Also don’t listen too much to what people think you should do, listen more to your own needs.
JH: It’s difficult to make new friends when you’re out of college. It’s worth putting effort into seeking out the company of good people and maintaining your friendships.
What’s the last show you went to?
ÚE: A concert in Iðnó Reykjavík where I saw Skúli Sverris with Ólöf Arnalds, JFDR, Sóley and more creme de la creme Icelandic artists.
JH: I saw BTS at MetLife Stadium this spring and it was so powerful that it has erased every other show I have been to this year from my memory.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
JH: Any David Lynch movie or anything Keanu Reeves is in, especially if it’s pre-2000.
ÚE: I agree with Júlía, adding any Pixar movie made in the ’90s and early ’00s.
What would you cook if Kanye West were coming to your house for dinner?
ÚE: Tacos that he has to put together himself. I think he’d enjoy that.
“Spare Room” is available to stream now.