Hugar are Bergur Þórisson and Pétur Jónsson, two 20-year-old guys from Seltjarnarnes, just outside Reykjavík, Iceland. Their paths didn’t really cross until Bergur and a funk band he had formed started looking for a guitar player and found Pétur. It wasn’t until early 2012 that they started working on what would become Hugar. Add access to a friend’s private recording studio, a drumming cameo from Ólafur Arnalds, a freshly-released album and Hugar were born.
Bergur tells us a little more about Hugar.
How would you describe your music?
It’s actually pretty difficult as it probably doesn’t fit into a pre-existing genre. Ólafur Arnalds described it as post-rock/neo-classical but really, it differs from song to song. Ambient, instrumental, alternative, experimental, post-rock and neo-classical would probably all work for explaining what it is but after all I think people just need to listen and judge for themselves.
I really love your album. It reminds me of A Winged Victim for a The Sullen. What were you influences when making it?
Well, we come from pretty different backgrounds in music. Bergur is originally a jazz trombone player and Pétur is originally a rock guitar player. So influences are many and the mixture was a little complicated to figure out at first but just to name a few: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Nils Frahm, Sigur Rós, Ólafur Arnalds, J.S. Bach, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and AC/DC.
What does Hugar mean?
The Icelandic word Hugar actually means minds. It took as a very long time to find a name that both of us could live with but in the end we decided that Hugar was the one to go with because the music is in some ways an extract from our minds mixed together.
It features Ólafur Arnalds on drums. How did that occur?
Well Bergur has been working with Ólafur for a while. Both on the award-winning TV series Broadchurch as well as touring with him in his live band. For our demos we had already created some electronic drums but when we had finished everything else, the electronic drums just didn’t feel right for a few tracks so we decided to go ahead and record some drums. We thought about who should be the drummer for a while but all of a sudden we remembered that Ólafur’s career started in drumming, playing in a few different metal bands so we thought we might as well try him. Needless to say he was actually a great drummer and brought in a few new ideas !
Is he different now that he is officially “award winning”?!
Him being different is probably not the right way to describe it but the jobs and offers he’s getting are definitely different. Also I think the ticket sales to the live shows are slowly jumping to a new level and the gigs are getting bigger and bigger. However, Ólafur is a pretty down-to-earth kind of guy so he’s totally chill about this whole thing.
What’s next for Hugar?
Following our release we’ve received a bunch of emails from people that want to work with us in one way or another so currently we are just looking at what we’ve got and what we’re going to do with it. We are also planning a release concert here in Iceland but it’s turning out to be a little more difficult than we expected because the arrangements on the record are a little too complicated for a live band if we are not doing a show with a full orchestra and 15 guitar players on stage.
We will figure it out, though, and make new, possibly more intimate arrangements of the songs, possibly get rid of some and write some new ones. Our hope is that this will be ready in September so we can have our release concert in the middle of September. After that, the future is still undecided but we’d love to play a few shows around the world so maybe that’s the direction we will take.
What’s the best way to listen to your music?
We have received emails and messages from a lot of people about this topic and people seem to love listening to it while walking around big cities like London and New York but also quite a few designers and artists have contacted us to tell us that they love to listen to our music while working. Personally, we think that is works best as a whole, being listened to all the way through, but people should do it anyway they like. The most important thing to us after all is that people enjoy it.
Edward Hancox - [email protected]
Edward Hancox lives in the United Kingdom with his wife and two small, noisy children but spends as much time as he can in Iceland. Music—especially contemporary Icelandic music—is his other passion. He writes about both subjects for Iceland Review and in his debut book, Iceland, Defrosted. He does not consider himself an expert on anything.