Sindri Már Sigfússon
Sindri Már Sigfússon has become one of Iceland’s most notable experimental folk musicians in recent years. Reykjavik based, Sigfússon knows no limits as he is the man behind two great Icelandic acts, Seabear and Sin Fang (originally Sin Fang Bous). Sigfússon’s rule when making his music is to always just use what you have. While attending the Icelandic Art Academy in 2004 he released his first EP titled Singing Arc under Seabear, at this point, Seabear was just Sigfússon’s solo project. In an interview with The Line of Best Fit, Sigfússon noted that when finishing class each day he would go home to his parent’s house when they were at work to take advantage of the silent space. He would work in the hallway and create new music with tiny speakers, a decent mic, and his PC computer, and that’s how he recorded his first EP, by using the most of what he had.
Sigfússon started off Seabear as a solo act in 2003, two years later it became a trio and in 2007 it was a seven-piece group. In 2008, when still with Seabear, Sindri released his first album titled Clangour, under his new solo project, Sin Fang. Sigfússon eventually put Singing Arc on the internet following its release. As his work appeared on the web, he was presented with the opportunity to exchange some demos with Ed Droste of the American indie rock group Grizzly Bear. Following the recent friendship with Droste, Sigfússon was invited to open for an experimental electro duo called The Books in New York City.
At this point Sigfússon had never performed live, but German record label Morr Music was already impressed by what he had to offer. They signed him (as Seabear) before he even performed his first show. Morr Music has been known to be a popular label for Icelandic experimental musicians including FM Belfast, Múm, Pascal Pinon, and sóley (a former member of Seabear). With his music career off to a start, Sigfússon did indeed stay in art school and graduated with a degree in 2007. Experimenting with art has always been Sigfússon’s passion whether it’s through the form of music, drawing, or painting. One thing Sindri noted was that music means a little bit more to him than painting does because you don’t get the same goose bump reaction when looking at an amazing painting compared to hearing a startling song. His art has a similar style to that of Portugal. The Man’s. Here are some examples.
When together, Seabear created two full length albums, two EPs (EP is an album that contains too many tracks for a single but too few for a full album), and two singles. Personally, my two favorite songs that Seabear created were “I Sing I Swim” and “Arms”, the sixth and eighth track from their first full-length album The Ghost That Carried Us Away in which all seven members were a part of. In 2007, Clash magazine described the band as “Sufjan Stevens [meeting] an unplugged Arcade Fire”. In an interview with The Fader, Sigfússon told readers that he had recently been an admirer of Beirut and their new album The Flying Cup Club, and had also been listening to The National, Arcade Fire, Rufus Wainwright, and Animal Collective to give a sense of his influences at that time.
The very traditional food of Iceland includes sheep head, fermented shark meat, and ram testicles. Growing up, Sigfússon was not exposed to that but instead to a much more American type of dining that included M&Ms and Jack in the Box (from time-to-time). He also stated that his upbringing was even more so Americanized because he spent part of his childhood in Sweden where he would watch MTV, Home Alone, idolize Michael Jackson, play Super Mario Brothers and Zelda, and one time for Christmas he got a Vanilla Ice LP. All of which allowed his English to be proficient from a young age.
In 2008, Sindri started off with his new solo project while still a part of Seabear. Since Sin Fang being established in 2008, Sigfússon has released three full albums under that name. His most recent album is titled Flowers. This album is produced by Alex Somers the founding member of the now defunct rock group called Parachutes, and the boyfriend of Jónsi, the current lead vocalist and guitarist for Sigur Rós. Jeff Beckmann of KEXP says that Flowers “is possibly the best album to come out of Iceland this year”, Beckmann goes on to saying that Sin Fang is constantly working on new things, making it impossible to regret Seabear going on a never ending hiatus.
KEXP is a non-profit listener powered radio station based in Seattle, Washington. There’s a good chance that you’ve seen a band doing a live studio in their session via YouTube, but if that hasn’t ever happened, that’s quite alright. KEXP has a unique relationship with Icelandic musicians (Of Monsters and Men were introduced this way). In the heart of Reykjavik, in the city center there is a youth hostel called KEX Hostel. Annually, KEXP broadcasts live worldwide for the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival, whose focus is to broadcast new music, both Icelandic and international. Sigfússon has a great relationship with KEXP as he’s performed at both Iceland Airwaves broadcasting sessions in Reykjavik as well as in their studio in the States as Seabear and Sin Fang.
Experimental couldn’t be a better category to place Sindri Sigfússon in because of his constant creation of new music. Recently in 2012, while still in the midst of his independent project Sin Fang, Sindri launched Pojke, another solo project that caters towards his more “electronic leanings” over the folky melodies of previous projects. All things considered, Sindri Már Sigfússon is very talented in both music and the arts who continuously impresses. I hope that there will be an opportunity soon to see him perform in the States sometimes in the near future.
By Ben Schechter