“Monitors, chinos and sangria”
I read somewhere that Stilluppsteypa’s Jolanda Beach is late-night Calypso music. Well, you could also call it hangover music, I guess. Anyway, there’s new Stilluppsteypa album, right? Still crazy after all these years. Oops, a bit of Paul Simon slipped in. Sorry about that. 14 years... ‘Don’t Call It A Comeback’ LL Cool J would say. Yeah, LL Cool J, that sounds better...
Why is there a 14 year gap between the last last album and the new one? You didn’t work for 14 years on this record, right?
Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson: Me and Helgi haven’t always been living in the same country, you know, so it’s been difficult to get together to work. Also reasons for it being that we were keeping busy working on the collaborations with BJ Nilsen, with whom we did something like 10 records together over the years if I remember right. Plus we were also doing Evil Madness together with Pétur Eyvindsson, Jóhann Jóhannsson and (again) BJ Nilsen from 2005 to 2013 or so. By the way, we are going to work on new a Evil Madness record, working on older unreleased tracks, that is if we find the files... Whoops, I got a bit carried away here, can’t remember what the question was...
Was there a point when Stilluppstepa didn’t exist anymore, or was that never the case?
Sigtryggur: No there was never a point where Stilluppsteypa didn’t exist anymore, we had just been busy working on other stuff, also on our visual art etc... This record for example has been an on/off thing for years and years, also in the meantime we already came up with new material which still needs working on though, but as for now this new record on Ultra Eczema should be enough headache for people.
Do you feel like, you went back to the ‘early days’ with this record? To the sound of the first recordings (and not the more darker sound from later on)?
Sigtryggur: I really didn’t give it much thought. It’s a Stilluppsteypa record to me. Well, there is enough dark nightmarish stuff on there I think. Which feels good. But I think I know what you mean by dark. Like it’s not as droney you mean...?
Sigtryggur: It’s a Stilluppsteypa record. It’s pretty much where we left from the 2004 release (the CD on ATAK), we picked up from where we left. The new stuff we are working on now has a different feel to it than the Beach Jolanda record, well that’s what I think, but I’m probably not the best to judge on that.
How would you describe the bound, the relationship that you guys have?
Helgi Thorsson: We are childhood friends that know each other well so even though we don’t see each other for a long time it’s always like we just had coffee the day before, if we go to the studio works get made fast and we seem to have similar ideas and thoughts on what we want.
How does ‘making a new album’ look when you work together? Is it like exchanging files or sitting together to make new music?
Helgi: Both of us had old half-finished stuff that we used to cut up or and mix with new material, we had few sessions together in the studio. For us that is sitting with monitors, chinos and sangria.
Sigtryggur: It’s both sharing files and sitting down to work. These days it’s more sitting down to work. There was a time when Helgi was in Holland and me in Germany or Helgi in Iceland and me in Belgium or Helgi back in Holland and me in Iceland, during those years it was sharing files to work. A lot on the A-side of Beach Jolanda was done in Iceland sitting down. The B-side was more sitting down in Belgium. If i remember right then this record came about because Dennis Tyfus asked us to do one for his label Ultra Eczema. That was a kind of a kick in the ass to finish off stuff we already had and to add more new material. So yes, all thanks to Dennis.
I had to laugh rather often while listening to this record, when things get a bit over the top or even with the prog guitar. Do you think that, as you get older, you become more aware of taking things light? Do you start to take fun more serious?
Sigtryggur: I still feel and behave like a 20 something which used to be a problem for some time but has become less and less a problem as I have learned to accept it. I don’t know if this answers the question but maybe gives an idea or maybe i’m just babbling to myself once again.
Helgi: We always had fun with it. Although it sounds serious and gloomy, me and Sigtryggur have fun making these lonely hard time soundtracks. I have never taken this very seriously, although we of course always make the effort to achieve top beats.
There are lounge elements on the album. Is that tongue-in-cheek, or just fooling around?
Sigtryggur: No, those elements are there as we came up with them, liked them and wanted them to be there. So, no fooling around.
Of course nobody ever asked my opinion, so I give it unasked. The best Belgian record ever? Gerard Herman’s ‘Feta Justice’. But that’s no question, of course. So my question: How did he managed to get on this record? What did he do?
Helgi: Gerard was at my house during a party, at some point we started playing together, I recorded that and a short part of that ended on the album, easy as 1 2 3.
What does ‘making laptop music’ mean? A lot cutting, pasting, editing and layering? Or wasn’t that so much the case for this record, is this a rather ‘natural’ record, made with synths, drum computers and organs?
Sigtryggur: We use all kinds of stuff. Sure, laptops are great for cutting and pasting, especially when one remembers the time of the tape machines and all that hassle, though we still like to use those as well. When i hear ‘laptop‘ music I think of late 90s/early 00s and super collider, maxmsp etc... But I never got around to learn how to use those complicated computer programs. I suck at math and I’m dyslexic so just by looking at the screen with all those numbers and all that information gave me headaches.
The record as a whole got a rather ‘in your face‘ sound. On purpose?
Sigtryggur: Everything on there is done on purpose I guess.
Sigtryggur: Why? I don’t know.
Maybe I should have started with this question: what’s ‘Beach Jolanda’? Is it an existing place?
Helgi: Yes there is a Jolanda and there is a beach. Sigtryggur was lucky to be able to combine both in a trip to Espana. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than to pay a tribute to that trip by giving the album that name.
Does it make sense to you if I say that this record has more the logic of a DJ set, rather than a ‘regular’ album?
Helgi: I don’t know. Depends on the DJ.
- Joeri Bruyninckx
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