Hello! How are you doing? Gummi, great to have you back with new excellent music! Congratulations for ‘Móðurástin‘. Let us have our first chat for your musical incarnation of your mighty Icelandic volcano called Katla...
Thank you very much!
Well, your departure in Sólstafir was a sad thing that occurred and we will not talk about that anymore, but wasn’t there first a time when you did not want to have anything to do with music anymore? (it seems a natural reaction to me) And how did that slowly change and turned into new inspiration?
Correct. I really thought I didn’t want to make more music. But what I didn’t realize at the time is that I was not fed up with making music, I was fed up with the music industry, I was fed up with all the fake ass industry people, I was fed up with the whole monkey circus. But making music is something that’s in my blood now and I had to make a new way of releasing my creativity. We do this for ourselves.
Did you start collecting new ideas alone or only when Einar joined you?
I had an idea where I wanted the band to head and then Einar added to that and improved it.
Your buddy in Katla is Einar Thorberg Gudmundsson, known from Fortid and Potentiam. How did this cooperation come into being? What about the inception of Katla?
I have known Einar for a very long time. I was a session drummer on a demo his band Hel did in 1996. Hel later developed into Potentiam and again I provided the drumming on their 1999 debut album. It was the first album either of us ever made. Then again I recorded a demo with them in 2005. So our cooperation and friendship goes back a very long time.
I remember there was an EP with two songs early 2016. How do you look back on that very beginning? What about reactions and feedback?
There wasn’t much of a feedback, but the feedback we got was solely positive. We still really like that EP.
What can you tell about the writing process of the full length album ‘Móðurástin‘?
Einar started writing more songs immediately after we recorded the EP, the man is a machine, but a machine with a soul. He was living in Norway at that time, so he sent me some ideas and I added a couple of ideas that he took and developed into full songs, except ‘Dulsmál’, which we didn’t really complete until we met in a garage in Reykjavík and jammed a bit.
The title means ‘Mother’s Love’, but let us shine a light on the lyrics in general. Is there a red thread? What did inspire you specifically?
Yes there is. Love and the sacrifices it brings, life’s temporary triumph over death, and death’s triumph over individual lives, the bonds of family and how each generation wages its own battle for existence.
What is ‘Kul’ about? There are some spoken words in it that reminded me of Asatru, but of course I can be totally wrong…
I wrote that lyric for my three children. It’s from the perspective of a parent that tells the child to sleep safely in the dark night, explaining that even though time passes quickly and empires fall, even the stars go dim, the night is still long for a small heart. Mom and dad are there to protect the little one in the night, but soon they too will pass and then he’ll wake over them. It’s about the paradox of how we perceive the passage of time, but also my newborn son (at the time) was waking up every two hours or so, so it’s a bit influenced by that haha.
Who did the female vocals in the title track and are there other guest appearances on the album (cello?)
The female vocals in the title track are sung by Einar’s sister and in the very end of the song there’s an old recording of my great grandmother from 1934. The only other guest musician is our producer Halldór from the band Legend who played some of the synths and made some orchestrations.
And how do you look back at the recording process? Big differences in comparison with earlier experiences or not?
We’ve been friends for a long time and I knew it was really good to work with him since my old band recorded a cover of Legend’s ‘Runaway Train’ with him. So we contacted him to record our debut 7”ep in 2015 and he brought Leigh Lawson on board. Working with Halldór and Leigh was really nice and relaxed and the results were good, so it was a no-brainer that we’d get them back to record our debut full length,
One of the highlights in terms of longer tracks is ‘Hreggur’ with its spatial chants and mighty going into crescendo towards blackened fury… any thoughts of you on that?
We had the idea of writing a song that started out quietly, but would pick up pace and end in a black metal fury, a buildup but not the typical post rock buildup. So Einar wrote the song, but we couldn’t quite figure out the end until in the studio really. It was the only unfinished song when we entered the studio.
You are also a visual artist. Can you tell a little bit more about this passion and its reflection on the artwork?
The inspiration for the music, lyrics and artwork all comes from the same source. It was one of the reasons for making this project in the first place, it was never just about the music, all these ingredients are equally as important to us. This is why we sometimes say Katla is a holistic art project rather than just a band. We’re proud of the fact that we were able to keep it all in the family. We write all the music and lyrics, Einar’s sister and my great grandmother provide vocals along with Einar and myself. I do all the visual art and layout and Einar does all the handwriting for the album and we invite our good friends Halldór and Leigh along for the ride.
The very special edition will also include a bonus CD with different versions of all the songs, created by other artists. This really makes me curious. Can you give us more details about this initiative? What was the biggest surprise in interpretation for you?
In a way they all surprised us, we really didn’t know what to expect. When we were making the album we told Halldór he could add whatever he felt to the music, his hands were totally free, and we took the same approach to the remixes. We told the artists they could do whatever they pleased. We even told them if they wanted to do The Silence Remix, sending back an empty sound file then that’s what they should do haha. Luckily none of them did that though and we are honestly super pleased with all the remixes. We love how varied they are, but they still play pretty much as an separate album in its own right.
Another captivating long song is the occluding track ‘Dulsmal’. It is a mighty finale of the album. It should talk about insomnia and strange dreams, isn’t it? And the spoken words have a different vibe than those in ‘Kul’. Is it a sampler? Which topic?
Yes. I’m the one speaking on ‘Kul’ but these are samples of old Icelandic hermits talking about strange dreams, the afterlife and the almighty – or really the lack of its presence. We knew we wanted to use samples of old Icelanders, and they just fit really well in that song.
Are there plans to create any music video clips?
Yes, maybe, hopefully.
You are a duo. Are there plans for expanding a bit and play live in the near future?
No, maybe, hopefully not.
And what are further plans and wishes for the near future?
The only thing I’ve learned in life is that plans never really work out, so we just do what we feel. We are thinking about another album though, and I’m pretty sure Einar probably has more than half of it written already haha.
If there is anything you’d like to add, please feel free to do so…
Thank you all for the support! Honesty shines through in the end!