To be honest, very few albums made a huge impression in 2017. There was one light in the dark, though. In November, Móðurástin by the Icelandic duo KATLA. offered an artistic relief, so to speak, with its unique and diverse soundscapes. Katla. is the manifestation of a collaboration between Fortíð/Potentiam singer and multi-instrumentalist Einar Thorberg Guðmundsson and former Sólstafir drummer and visual artist Guðmundur (Gummi) Óli Pálmason. The Power Of Metal.dk is eager to learn more about the release and the people behind it.
Thomas: First of all thank you for one of the best musical experiences in 2017! A few months have passed after its release. How have reactions been from press and fans?
Gummi: Takk! We are humbled by the overwhelmingly good response the album has been getting. Being a new band we didn’t know what to expect.
Thomas: When you listen back to the album now, are there things you would have changed or approached differently?
Gummi: There are always things you tell yourself later you could have done better. Like some dude, much wiser than I am, once said; art is never finished, only abandoned. At some point you just got to let go. But all in all this is THE album that will allow me to die happy, and I hope Einar feels the same. Next album will be better, though, haha.
Thomas: Is there a theme that runs through Móðurástin’
Gummi: There is a red tread running through the album of living with the elements in Iceland, surviving the long cold winters, but also the relations each generation has with the land and with the generation that came before. The world is changing and Iceland is no exception. We are not born in the same world as our parents or grandparents, and our children are not born in the same world as us. But before the generation of our grandparents nothing really changed for a thousand years in Iceland.
Thomas: Would you agree that there is a touch of 80s rock and pop in your sound and approach to song writing? The song ‘Náttagi’ being a good example.
Gummi: Yes, for sure. ‘Nátthagi’ is a great example, we called it The Cult song (think Sonic Temple or Love). We wanted Katla. to be a project where we could express any kind of musical ideas and our producer Halldór Á. Björnsson (of Icelandic band Legend – check out their awesome new album Midnight Champion) even added some IDM/EDM sounds in the background.
Thomas: Being just the two of you, I envision that you and Einar worked very closely together in the creation process. Did you come up with the ideas for songs together, or was it more of a process where one of you spent long, lonely hours and presented ideas to the other?
Gummi: We both write music and lyrics, although Einar writes more of the music and I write more of the lyrics. There were some songs where Einar wrote the music from scratch, but in some cases I added vocal lines, and a couple of songs we wrote together. Einar can write a whole album while I write a single riff or melody, haha, so for a couple of songs I sent him my ideas and he really turned them into full songs.
Thomas: Again, there’s just the two of you. Do you see any opportunities for you to play live at all?
Gummi: We might add some members for live performances, we haven’t really decided if we’ll do that or not.
Thomas: Katla is the name of an Icelandic volcano. Why did you choose that particular name?
Gummi: After being without an outlet for musical ideas I started to get inspired again when I started to work as a tour guide in Iceland and I was out in all these awesome places every day, so I felt from the start that the band must be named after an Icelandic volcano. I think it fits the music as well, sometimes calm, but can erupt at any time. Katla is also (now) a female name and I really liked the idea of having a “black”metal band with a female name. We’re not afraid of showing our feminine sides, having emotions, yes, I said it, a metal band with emotions, that contain more than drinking beers and hailing Satan or glorifying wars.
Thomas: Your fallout with Sólstafir and your dismissal from the band has been widely covered, not least by yourself on your blog. Reykjavik isn’t exactly New York – won’t you guys run into each other eventually and have to work things out somehow? I mean…awkward moment alert!
Gummi: Haha, still hasn’t happened though. I haven’t seen their mugs in 3 years and am quite happy with keeping it like that. Nothing will be worked out while they refuse to pay me for the endless work I did for the band. I mean, for crying out loud, they’re still even selling merch that I personally designed and all of a sudden I’m not entitled to any payments?
Thomas: Speaking of Reykjavik and Iceland; I’ve read that you work as a tour guide in Iceland. What would you recommend a tourist to Iceland to go and see or experience?
Gummi: Experience a tour with me in a so called super jeep (highly modified SUV – google it) 😉 I’ll drive you up mountains, on glaciers, through rivers…. anywhere cars were’t meant to go, haha.
Thomas: I’ve heard stories about how people in Iceland still believe that there are trolls and dwarves under the rocks. Is there some truth to this?
Gummi: Of course. You mean to tell me people in other countries don’t believe in elves and trolls? There have even been recent cases where they’ve laid roads differently than originally planned so they don’t disturb the hidden people as we call them.
Thomas: The Power Of Metal.dk may be an international site, but our site originates in Denmark. Do you experience that Iceland still has ties to Denmark and do you have any connections in our wee country down south?
Gummi: Iceland has really good connections to all of the Nordic contries, and maybe especially Denmark. We used to be under Danish rule, but gained our full independence in 1944 by sending your king a single letter saying “Sorry dude, we’re breaking up, it’s not you, it’s us, we just need to move on, we’re still fond of you, though”.
Many Icelanders study in Denmark and we still have to learn Danish in school as kids.
Personally I have no connections to Denmark, though, but I like the Danes, you’re nice ligeglade people.
Thomas: Who are at the top of your playlist at the moment? Anything you can recommend to our readers?
Gummi: The new Legend album, Midnight Champion, has been on my playlist since spring and I still love it. I’ve also been listening to Sauðanes by Icelandic post punk band Vonbrigði.
Thomas: Vinyl, CD or streaming? What works best for you?
Gummi: I use streaming most at the moment, but nothing beats vinyl when you have the time to really sit down and listen and read the cover and look at the pictures and just hold the thing in your hands.
Thomas: Finally, before I let you off the hook, any rants for our readers?
Gummi: Takk fyrir stuðninginn, krakkar! Sjáumst í næstu jarðvarmavirkjun! [Google is your friend, dear editor! The Editor]
Móðurástin (Prophecy, 2017)
Einar Thorberg Guðmundsson
Guðmundur (Gummi) Óli Pálmason