While digging through used CDs at an obscure shop in St Paul, MN, I ran across an old Mum EP. It had an email address on the back, and after hailing Finally We Are No One as the best album of 2002, I thought it might be interesting to pick their brains.
So I e-mailed them. They seemed excited, to say the least, to take part in the interview. After getting into the interview I decided that I didn't have the heart to edit Örvar's answers. The essence of his character shines through his mistakes. They're charming people, so here it is, in the raw:
D (tinymixtapes): First, I've heard that one of the twins has left the band. I'm wondering if you can tell me a little bit about what happened?
Örvar (Múm): Yes, Gyda quit the band. She wanted to focus on her chello playing.
D: How has this changed the dynamic of the band?
Örvar: I don't know yet, really. We are waiting to find out. We have done one tour after she left and it was quite strange, but it worked out pretty good. We will really know when we make a new album and start again.
D: Do you expect her return at any point in the future?
Örvar: I don't know. Maybe. Who knows.
D: Are you looking to find a permanent replacement, or at least people to fill in for tours?
Örvar: No permanent replacements on the map for us now. Last tour we had some kids coming in and playing and a singing and we might very well keep doing things like that. It is good fun, working with different people. The kids we had had on our last tour were very great. Kristín and Gydas older sister, Ásthildur was singing and we had an american girl, Serena on the chello. And when we were in Amsterdam, we met up with the trumpet player Eiki who has played on both of our albums. He was going to play with us two shows, but we fooled him in to coming on the rest of the tour with us.
D: When I hear Finally We Are No One, I find great comfort in the thought that music like that did not exist even four years ago. Do you consciously, as a band, push boundaries to make music that is purely original and cutting-edge?
Örvar: We do very few things really consciously, at least of the things we do well. But yes, one of the reasons that I guess we are in this is to explore and keep finding new things and I hope we will keep on doing that.
D: What's your personal favorite track on "Finally We Are No One" and why?
Örvar: I don't know. Let's say the title track, because it is simple. But I think I am not really telling the truth though. I
can't pick a favorite but that would be a bad answer, would it not?
D: Some of the best music being released these days is coming from Iceland. Sigur Ros, Múm, and Björk are
phenomenal. Then there are also semi-good acts such as Aria and Emiliana Torrini. Do you have any sort of guess as
to why so much spectacular music should be coming out of one small country at one time?
Örvar: No guesses. I have no idea. I am not sure about Aria though, I think she picked a very good old Icelandic song to cover. We used to do that same song when we did our first ever tour.
It's a song from an old documentary about a very remote land in Iceland. It's called Sveitin milli sanda - the land between the sands. Originally the song is only Elly VilhjalmsdottirÂ´s voice in an amazing, old plate reverb.
It's beutiful. I think the composer used to do mostly very harsh electronic and electroacoustic music in the fifties and sixties I think. This is really the only song, that I know from him, but he did score some documentaries. His name is Magnus Blondal and his picture is on the cover of the Pansonic/Barry Adamson record that Kitchen Motors put out two years ago. On the photo he is having his brain scanned.
D: What are some other bands that you recommend right now?
Örvar: I really like Stars as Eyes right now, I think their new album is really rickinÂ´. Avey Tare and Panda Bear are americans I think and they have a very interesting record coming out on fatcat. I
can't describe, you will have to listen. In the last days I have been listening quite a lot to this Black Dice album,
beaches and canyons. It's weird, but fun.
Of Icelandic music I can metion: The Apparat organ quartet, Borkó, Rúnk, Trabant, Lovers without lovers and the amazing Slowblow. They are putting out a new album soon and Kristin sings and plays on quite a few tracks. It is very beutiful.
But our closest music in Iceland comes from a 85 year old woman called Sigridur Nielsdottir, who makes electronic ditties in her living room and she puts out an album almost every month.
D: What is some of the band's favorite equipment used in the studio?
Örvar: Some old instruments. I am really into my casios at the moment. Endless fun and beuty.
D: And what do you use to record? Protools? DAT?
Örvar: Both and more.
D: Spooky. Why was there such an obvious change in songwriting between Yesterday Was Dramatic Today Is Ok and Finally We Are No One? By change I mean, the songs became more structured, and with a great deal more vocals.
Örvar: We were much more of a band when we did the second one. The first one was really accidental. The songs on
finally are much more built around live playing.
D: Why was Finally We Are No One released in two languages? Are the lyrics very similar? Why are they mixed so differently? The vocals seem to be much louder on the Icelandic version.
Örvar: I did not know they were mixed differently. Then it is an accident I guess. We had two versions because some of the lyrics were originally in Icelandic on some tracks and in english on some and it was easy for us to record both. So, we did it because we could. The lyrics are pretty similar and no one can understand them in both the languages.
D: Has the band entered the studio again? What are the plans for the next album?
Örvar: Let's make it good. We are starting now, I think. 1,2,3 and let's start.
D: Hey! When's the web page going to be up? We've been waiting forever!
Örvar: Someday. But I think it will be good. Maybe a month or two. We have just had endless problems finding someone to do the things we would like, but now there is someone sweating over it. But it
won't be an information site.
D: Oh yeah... one more thing. I hear the native Icelanians can tell whether a pool is heated geothermically or not. Can you? How do they do it!?
Örvar: Of course. Water from the ground smells. You could definatly tell it yourself, if not better than us. Some foreign people always wash themselves again with cold water after having taken a shower because they feel they smell like boiled eggs or fart from the hot water. All the hot water in Iceland is geothermically hot, so we rarely have to tell the differance. It all smells like boiled eggs or fart.