Considering his new tunes could soundtrack a cholera epidemic at a World of Warcraft convention, it’s hard to imagine electronic composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds was once a drummer in a hardcore band called Fighting Shit. Or that Arnalds got his start composing the intros and outros for a German metal band Heaven Shall Burn, toured with Sigur Rós, and wrote the score to a ballet inspired by early 20th century expeditions to the South Pole. Pinned down long enough to record a new album, For Now I Am Winter (Mercury), Arnalds has added another swell in the stream of musical goodness coming out of his native Iceland. Ambient tracks are replete with lush piano chords and melancholy violins, which are then looped and layered with increasingly insistent beats, creating a map of his world and a tour of his mind.
Pete Tong: Where does your inspiration come from? Ólafur Arnalds: I don’t usually talk much about inspiration as I think it’s a very misunderstood term. It’s just a fancy word for being in the right mood or circumstances for being creative. I often find myself in a writing mood after watching a good film or watching/reading a smart lecture.
What do you think of the new Daft Punk record? I have only heard that first single. It’s good. My friends complain that it’s not ‘Daft Punk enough’ but I don’t care as long as it’s a good song. They are bringing groove back to pop music; this has been missing for a while.
You are not a gadget. As a society are we too wired? I’m not sure if the gadgets are the problem, or if it’s just us. Maybe it’s fine to be so wired but then we have to learn the difference between the gadget world and the real world. We have to be able to take our eyes off the smartphone screen and enjoy the moment. If we can manage this, then we are not too wired.
Is Fatboy slim? I was rather shocked when I found out he was not fat at all!
What’s next? I’m on tour for months now. In the short term, Moscow is next. In long term, Europe is next. As for longer terms, I don’t really know much.
Photographer: Jónatan Grétarsson for Zphotographic.com. Stylist: Bóas Kristjánson. Hair: Theodóra Mjölll. Groomer: Frída María using Blue Lagoon Skincare.